Changing Habits

For years I was the kind of reader that only read physical books and mostly ones I owned. I delighted in hours spent browsing in bookstores, bringing stacks up to purchase.

But then I had a toddler and beautiful afternoons spent in bookstores are really a thing of the past. Plus, this whole pandemic thing. This is not a post to talk about how I’m not an e-reader. We’re still holding the line on that one.

I have for sure become a library super-user though. Currently, 74% of my 2021 books have been from the library. In 2020, 51% of my reading came from the library – and I didn’t have access to the library from March to June!

I’ve been working from home so no more trips to the library on my lunch break, and no more browsing. I’ve been periodically going online and placing holds and then collecting a stack once a week or so. I was never that into putting books on hold, preferring the serendipity of finding books as I browsed. Sometimes those books were on my radar, often they weren’t. Every once in a while I stop and think about how much money the library has saved me. But mostly I think about how grateful I am that libraries exist and that they found a way to make their collections remain accessible in all of this. Because wow, I have so much more time on my hands and I don’t like to think about what I would have done without the library.

The other significant change, and this will surprise you, is that I have finally given in to the siren song of the audiobook.

I have fairly strict parameters for what I will listen to because I still don’t like being read to. No fiction audiobooks for me at this point. But after hearing about how amazing Becoming by Michelle Obama, The Meaning of Mariah by Mariah Carey, Open Book by Jessica Simpson and books by comedians are on audiobook, I decided that I would give non-fiction audio a spin.

And wow. They are so fun to listen to! I go for long walks with our dog most afternoons (he needs a good hour or he’s a nightmare all evening) and that’s become my audiobook time. I can’t tell you how much that time has been transformed for me. The first audiobook I listened to was Andre Leon Talley’s In the Chiffon Trenches. I had to speed him up to 1.25% but I loved wandering around the neighbourhood with his voice in my ears. I’ve since listened to Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo (I think I would have preferred to read this one on paper, just the way I prefer to process this type of information), and Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness (I loved this one and I think you HAVE to listen to it vs read it). I’m now listening to Ali Wong’s Dear Girls.

I’m on the waitlist for Colin Jost’s A Very Punchable Face and Atomic Habits by James Clear (that one will take a while – 52nd on 10 copies!).

I’m still super new to the audiobook game so if you have nonfiction suggestions, please send them my way!

The steady supply of fresh and free reading materials plus audiobooks mean that a little more than halfway through February, I’ve finished 25 books which is probably the best I’ve done reading-wise in a number of years.

What are your reading hacks these days?

22 thoughts on “Changing Habits

  1. Love a good audiobook! I enjoyed Becoming by Michelle Obama which I know you referenced. I’m currently listening to Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey. Just checking my previous listens & I also loved The life and times of the thunderbolt kid by Bill Bryson. All books I’d never read, but are great listens so I agree non fiction is where it’s at 😌 x

  2. I put books on hold and pick them up, too, although before the pandemic, my husband and I had one day a week where we would drop our dog off at Puppy Play, run our errands, and then if we had time left before picking up the dog, I would buy a coffee and we would go hang out at the library. I miss that.

    Unfortunately, I cannot pay attention to things that are just audio, so audiobooks don’t work for me unless, for some reason, they are done like radio plays. I can listen to that, but I can’t listen to reading without my mind wandering too much. Thunderbolt Kid is okay, but I think it’s the least fun of Bryson’s books.

  3. Oooh Chiffon Trenches would be a good one on audio. I just think of them as podcasts but longer (and better!) though I do sometimes just want to zone out with a mindless podcast 🙂

    I also enjoy science books on audio. It’s been a while, I should get back on that.

  4. I haven’t been able to make the jump to audiobooks yet but I can see where memoirs and comedians would be perfect here! I’m so grateful for the libraries too. Living abroad in non-English speaking countries that was one of the biggest things I missed in like, a visceral way, no joke. I do miss the browsing though, like you say it was something so special and picking up holds just isn’t the same!

    • I can’t keep the focus if I’m not doing something else and it has to be something boring. Driving, dishes, lunch preparation, sometimes laundry folding, bathroom cleaning. These all lend themselves REALLY well to audiobook listening for me. I also got some airpods for Christmas and the FREEDOM I now have from wires! Total game changer.

  5. I think the wireless earbuds would be key for me. Right now I don’t even have the ones with wires, because I never listen to anything. I think the only time I would have to listen is when I’m walking. BUT I also feel like that’s the only time I have to just let my mind wander – something I love and haven’t dared to give up yet. I’ve been tempted, though, for several years now because SO many people like it. I’m glad you have found the joy of a new way of reading (and of placing millions of holds at the library)!

    • The wireless earbuds are a game changer for dog walking. My dog is still young enough that he jumps up and he’s massive so he reaches my shoulders and often he would get tangled in the wires and it was a mess.
      I’m in my own head so much that I like to focus on other things – very much the opposite from you!
      Oh those library holds – I picked up a STACK on saturday and a new book was ready for collection on sunday.

  6. I really enjoy memoirs as audiobooks, especially if read by the author, but it’s been a long time since I had a commute that gave me time for audiobooks. I think I did Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman as an audiobook and enjoyed it, but there aren’t any that are really clear in my memory. I’ve heard good things about Trevor Noah’s memoir as audiobook though, so that might be worth checking out 🙂

    • Trevor Noah’s is definitely one that comes up a lot as a good listen! I read it the old fashioned way though.
      I definitely think about all the commuter hours I wasted not listening to audiobooks! But I don’t miss the commute much otherwise.

  7. I’m in complete agreement on libraries. Ours still haven’t opened yet and I miss them so much. Like you, I pick up holds, but wandering a library and waiting for a book to jump out at me is one of my favorite activities.

    I’m also a nonfiction audiobook lover. I’d recommend Amy Schumer and then, for our love of the wealthy, Gloria Vanderbilt ‘s memoir with her son Anderson Cooper- The Rainbow Comes and Goes. They both narrate, like a conversation and it’s wonderful.

  8. Pingback: What I’ve Been Listening To: Women’s Stories, Living in the Woods, MS, Missing Youth, and a Self-Help Journey – Consumed by Ink

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