The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity
Why I Love Audiobooks

by Debbie Macomber

The following first appeared in BookPage, June 2012.

I'm a person who likes to multitask. One of my favorite things is to travel in a car with my husband, knit and listen to an audiobook.

We enjoy listening so much that we've traveled beyond our intended destination just so we could finish a book. Wayne and I will often discuss the plot. There's such an advantage in being able to share our enjoyment of a story together.

I have audiobooks playing in practically every room of the house. There's one in the kitchen to listen to while I prepare dinner. Nighttime finds me in the bathtub with an audiobook playing while I relax at the end of a long day. And there's always a book in my car.

Audiobooks have been a big part of my reading life since the early 1990s. I vividly remember the first book I listened to: Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides read by Richard Thomas. I was mesmerized not only by the writing but by the reading performance.

Audiobooks have played a big part in my career, too. It's important for an author to keep current with what books are selling, but because I'm dyslexic (more about that later) I could never read all the books I need to stay up to date. Listening to a book gives me the opportunity to analyze what's popular and look for ways to incorporate new ideas into my own writing. A good example of this is The Help. Because it was causing such a sensation, I purchased the audiobook. The listening experience was amazing. I sat enthralled, dazzled by both the writing and the audio performance.

I'm also a fan of nonfiction books, and reading those can be difficult when they're filled with facts and quotes, but listening gives me an entirely different perspective. What better way to learn than to sit and listen and knit all at the same time?

Another reason I find audiobooks so enticing has to do with being dyslexic. I struggled with learning to read and was 10 years old before I understood the mechanics of sounding out words. Because of this learning disability, I am a slow, thoughtful reader to this day. While I love books, it's a challenge for someone like me to actually read.

Lastly, this is a little embarrassing to admit, but I'm terribly picky as a reader. I know too much. It's sort of like an automobile mechanic riding in a car. While anyone else might assume everything is in perfect order, the mechanic knows that the timing is off on the third piston. As an author, I'm familiar with story structure and other nuances of writing fiction. If something's the least bit off I can sense it immediately and instead of enjoying the story, I'm trying to figure out what's wrong with the book. Not so with audiobooks. I can't explain why that is, other than the fact that audiobooks are more than story. They are entertainment. They are performances.

Okay, my friends, that's it in a nutshell. I love audiobooks and now you know why.

Best-selling author Debbie Macomber has more than 140 million books in print.

Reprinted with permission by BookPage.

Copyright 2008, The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity ̢ Yale School of Medicine