Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Audiobooks Are Not Cheating

I have always been a voracious reader, as I am sure most of you were as well.  Bookish came naturally to me.  I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a book on me at all times, whether it was Junie B. Jones, Harry Potter, or Jane Austen.  I have a serious love of books – and nothing but the real paper kind will do. 
Until I got sick.
I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012.  My main symptom that led to the diagnosis was severe vertigo.  Since then, I have been through several treatments, countless doctors, and still deal with symptoms on a regular basis.  Even with limited mobility and other physical symptoms, the vertigo has been the worst to manage – it has kept me from reading.
When I am having a bad flare, I’m not able to read at all.  The vertigo makes focusing so nauseating that it takes hours for me to get through one chapter.  I eventually had to give up, even having to take a semester off.  I was vocal about my frustration and boredom with not being able to read, which is when a friend suggested audiobooks. 
But isn’t that cheating?
I was unable to get over my preconceived notion that I was somehow cheating myself as a reader if I listened to audiobooks.  Wasn’t it the same as watching the movie instead of reading the book?  I spent years fighting through my symptoms to get through as many books as I can.  Even on a good day I’m still not as fast of a reader as I used to be. 
After five years, I finally gave in and decided to try audiobooks.  Rebecca Schinsky in the All the Books podcast recommended listening to nonfiction on audio, so that’s where I started.  My wife and I were planning a weekend away, which involved 3 hours of driving each way.  We downloaded Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? as a test run. 
I loved it.  I moved on to a fiction book and loved that, too.  I loved the voice and being able to use the time in the car to read, even though I am usually the driver.  I loved the narrator using different voices for each character.  I almost wanted to cry.  Even on days when I am not able to focus on a single page, I can still read.  I can still be a part of the story. 
Lyme disease has taken a lot of things from me: mobility, social life, financial stability.  Now that my eyes (or rather, ears) have been opened to audiobooks, reading is one part of my life that I can reclaim.

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