A brief ramble about audiobooks

Via Jessamyn, an article about the benefits of audio books, by an English professor who professes to be embarrassed by the fact.

Listening to tapes while engaged in mindless but unavoidable activities, I get through about 30 books a year that I would not otherwise have read. It’s almost like I’m sneaking in an extra half-lifetime of reading in the course of doing my ordinary chores, which have a way of getting done more thoroughly as a result of listening while I work.
There is no way I can justify devoting the next two weeks of bedtime reading to Tom Wolfe’s new novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons. I have too much professional reading and course preparation to do. But I can permit myself to listen to all 25 hours of Wolfe’s novel while I am in the shower, eating breakfast, and driving to and from work.

It put me in mind of a passage of Stephen King’s On Writing, which I read earlier this year:

Of the books I read each year, anywhere from six to a dozen are on tape. As for all the wonderful radio you will be missing, come on — how many times can you listen to Deep Purple sing “Highway Star”?
(p. 148)

Audiobooks have always seemed like a good idea to me, especially when I’ve had long bus rides to deal with. (That 13-disc set of The Silmarillion, ripped to my iPod, really passed the time on weekends when buses are slow and infrequent.) They’ve also been a godsend on long highway trips.

But at present I don’t commute. In this town, no trip on foot would get me more than a few paragraphs further along. Making the car iPod-compatible, through a new stereo deck with an aux-in or a wireless transmitter, would open up all the audiobooks available through iTunes. (Without a cassette player in the car, the audiobooks on cassette aren’t an option, though the CD versions still are. Incidentally, they’re all awfully expensive — especially the unabridged versions — don’t you think?)

Now, were I to begin commuting into Ottawa on a regular basis — a likely scenario if I get full-time work or even a short- or medium-term contract — I’d almost certainly iPod up the car and get a few of the audiobooks I’ve been eyeing on iTunes double quick. I don’t know if it’s my imagination that the CBC is less listenable than it used to be, but I’ve been switching off the radio more and more — usually as something tedious came on. So it’d be nice to have something else to listen to. I might not even mind the traffic congestion.