October/November 2017

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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Audiobooks and Literacy When Reader Fatigue Strikes Stress plays havoc with our emotions and our capacity to think clearly—even the good stress (I got married! I have a new puppy! I earned a raise!) and certainly the bad (I've been sued. My children have been sick for a month. I can't figure out what this teacher wants.). All stress undermines our sense of balance, and we look to a variety of substances and activities for relief, from potato chips to weeping. Yet our tried and true remedies may fail when the stress is chronic: We lose interest in favorite pastimes, we can't concen- trate on what ordinarily engages us, and we can't seem to break through a resistance to righting our inner world. We are living through a civic era in which news and opinion sources blast a constant high-pressure stream of information, misinformation, guess- work, and prognosticating. Because this flood comes to us through the same activities that many of us employ as stress reducers—reading, listening, conversing—we know that we are not alone in suffering com- munication and expression fatigue. But how do we find a way to reboot our connections to well-chosen and artfully expressed words? How can we get back to a better sense of balance, and relief from the crumbling attri- butes of stress? As someone who has been support- ing reading/listening advisory with librarians and teachers for 20 years, I've had the opportunity to work with individuals seeking their own next good book or audiobook and classes working to hone skills and resources that will serve them in reaching out to individuals and their communities. During these two decades there have been several points when shattering events have placed enormous stress on large numbers of Americans, sending them in search of reading relief that suddenly seems elusive. In the wake of 9/11, for example, several nonfiction readers I encountered turned to genre, while genre readers switched genres in order to re-engage with casual reading. Now, many who have read with their eyes for a lifetime are open to trying audiobooks to lift themselves from the stress that their reading habits hasn't assuaged. Reader fatigue, at base, isn't about too many books or too much time spent reading. It's about stress. @AudioFileMag By Francisca Goldsmith How do we find a way to reboot our connections to well-chosen and artfully expressed words? 68 n AudioFile/ Finding a way to listen away that stress—at least for the duration of a six-, eight-, or twenty-hour-long audio- book—can go far to give readers the relief they need. If you're already an audiobook fan, you may find yourself switching genres, or trying some thoughtful historical fiction, or another type of audiobook new to you. Even dipping into a unique print format such as shaped poetry or comics can be a way to recharge. That's okay: We know you'll be back to audio- books! The important element here is that sometimes a genre change is enough, and sometimes a format "vacation" helps. With audiobooks, listeners also have the availability of performance differences. If you're a dedicated single-narrator listener, try some full-cast performances. Maybe you go for author-read audiobooks? Try listening to an actor's approach to similar content. Make use of audio- books for casual genre listening only? Step out and try audiobooks that engage your brain in a new way— perhaps comedy or instructional material you'd like to absorb. You can also make simple changes in your listening times and routines. If you typically listen while exercising, try listening while sedentary—and vice versa. If audiobooks for you mean commute time, while print is for your lunch break, try listening on that break. However you mix it up, be kind to yourself and don't judge yourself for when you run into fatigue. It's stress-induced, and you can usually find a simple way to make listening and reading your friends again. Reader fatigue isn't about too many books or too much time spent reading. It's about stress.

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