Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | June 7, 2011

Audio Books: My Obsession

“Avid” describes my reading habits. Avid bordering on the obsessive. My family has learned that when I hold out a book and beg “Hide it!” to grab the book and run. This is because when a book has caught me I will ignore everything, allow anything, as long as it brings me the peace I need to devour the book. The only reason I can muster the courage to stop reading is because I know intellectually my children should not eat candy for lunch. Especially when they had it for breakfast.

I have loved audio books for years. Because I’m dyslexic there are some things, such as history, that I hear better than read. Not too long ago, I listened to Barbara Tuchman’s A DISTANT MIRROR when I made strawberry jam. Making jam is a long, hot and invariably sticky process. I forgot the heat, my aching feet and the fact that the dog was sticking to my leg as I listened to the life of Enguerrand de Coucy.

And the there is Scott Westerfeld. This spring I had a great deal of outdoor work to do so I decided to treat myself to a new book and downloaded LEVIATHAN. I decided I could only listen to LEVIATHAN when I was working and at no other time.

At about midnight I finished the book. Since I have children a great deal of my day is spent with them but every free moment I would feverishly seize on some task, be it big or small, that could be classified as “work”. After the children were in bed I turned on the outdoor lights and kept at it. By the end of the book I almost slept face down in the hall rather than bother to find my bed but I didn’t care.

The next day I downloaded BEHEMOTH. Thank you, Mr. Westerfeld. I split wood, cleaned flower beds, ripped out invasive plants and hauled countless loads of mulch just so I could obsessively listen to what happened next. Then I took a lot of Motrin.

Recently I stumbled across Jasper Fforde’s Tuesday Next series. I loved THE EYRE AFFAIR (what former English Major wouldn’t?) but found I could only listen to an hour or so before the world-building affected my perception of reality so deeply I would have to stop and reground myself in this world. I realized this one night while speaking to my husband and I automatically assumed that we all could read ourselves in and out of books.

One reason I’m a writer: I have a ridiculously strong imagination.

Am I alone in my obsession with audio books?


  1. Ha! My sister could have written this! Both of our families are obsessed with books and we have passed this onto our children, but will there still be books for them when they are older!? My daughters are obsessed with The Hunger Games books and Harry Potter, probably re-reading them every 6 months. How lucky they are to grow up in this golden age of children’s/YA literature. I read Eliza Nesbit as a kid because most of the YA lit wasn’t so great, but I was lucky my small elementary school had her books. Does anyone still read her stuff? Great post!


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