No time to read? Just listen...

Monday, September 13, 2010

I love to read but I just don't have the time to sit down with a book and let the rest of the world go by. In the last year I've become a huge fan of audiobooks. For little or no cost, there are thousands of great books available in wma (Windows Media Audio) and mp3 and ipod format..

My local library's website has links to Overdrive Audiobook Downloads and  Net Library Downloads.

Overdrive allows you to download up to five audiobooks and you can specify the length of time- for 7 or 14 days. I chose seven days so I can get a-books more frequently. NetLibrary allows you to get ten a-books for a set time of three weeks each. On either site, the a-books are available in different formats.... most all are available in wma not all are available in mp3 or ipod format. Check with your library to see what's available.

Now keep in mind that wma files are protected and will not play on an mp3 player. They are strictly for use on your PC Windows Media Player. That's fine if you're sitting at your desk but not so great if you want to listen in the kitchen or car. I've..uh.. done some research and it's my understanding that there are specific software programs available for about $25 that will convert protected wma files to mp3s so they will play on your portable device. From what I've learned, they convert the protected wma files in real time so if your wma format book is 12 hours long, it will take 12 hours to convert it to mp3 files. I suppose one could start the program at night and when one wakes up in the morning, the conversion would be complete & ready for your mp3 player. I suppose. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. is another good source though the a-books are not free. You can choose different membership programs to get 1, 2 etc, a-books each month. Spend as much or as little as you choose. The selection there is huge. Much larger that either of the library based sites.

I can’t tell you much about ipod files since I don’t have one. I have a cheap little 4GB Sansa Fuze that does the job just fine. After I’m done with a book, I take it off my Fuze & put it in a storage folder on one of my external hard drives,so I can listen to it again…and yes, Ive found there are a-books worth listening to a second & maybe even a third time. More about that later...
I don't really care much for earbuds. I must have oddly shaped ears because Ive never found earbuds that are comfortable- after a few minutes, they start hurting, so I use an external speaker that I picked up on eBay for about 3 years ago for about $9. It's called...I Am A Speaker... duh, wonder which genius ad man came up with that gem. It's shaped like a 6 x 12 zippered notebook and has surprisingly good sound for such a cheapy. I throw in the Fuze, zip it up and go.  I actually found online instructions on how to build a speaker in an empty Altoid tin. I'm not that frugal yet. Ther are plenty of cheap external speakers around.

When I'm baking dog treats I'm listening to an a-book. It makes the time go faster & is infinitely more interestin than concentrating on dough, rolling pins and cookie cutters.
Listening to an abook makes my hour long drive to the Everett Market on Sundays pass quickly and I actually look forward to the drive home so I can unwind and pick up where I left off eight hours before.
I no longer fall asleep with the TV on... but the Fuze is on. Maybe it's a throwback to the bedtime story, but it's great to curl up and listen while I drift off. If I wake up during the night, I might remember to turn off the Fuze & speaker-- or back it up and listen for a while. The 3 AA speaker batteries last about a week because I ususally leave it in all night.

You can find any and every genre on audiobooks. Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, philosophy, religion  and even study aids. You can find abridged & unabridged versions.

 I love mysteries & historical fiction. So far my favorites have been Pillars of the Earth  (38 hours) & the sequel World Without End  (43 hours) by Ken Follett. Other spell-binders were The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest, all by the late Stieg Larssen.  My collection includes James Patterson, J.A. Jance, Lee Child (LOVE  his Jack Reacher series) Jeffery Deaver, Michael Palmer, Dan Brown.  Nothing heavy. I'm reading listening for entertainment.

Right now I'm listening to Carl Hiassen, who combines a fun mystery with skewering greedy Florida land developers and makes both hilarious.

No time to sit still with a book? Multitask. Find a good audiobook and listen up.