In such a fast-paced world, many readers struggle with completing their novels and non-fiction favorites. Over the pandemic, formerly avid readers rekindled their relationship with books in a variety of ways. Whether it be out of one’s volition, or with the aid of online challenges that promote conversation and reading, readers have used different tools to reinvigorate their passion for reading.
Audiobooks are among these types of reading. After a hectic senior year, I wanted to return to reading books that I found interesting. Although, that's not to imply that I didn't like reading scholarly material. Reading classics, academic journals, and critically acclaimed young-adult novels expanded my horizons when it came to my particular taste in literature. I read a variety of books in college that I still find to be worth reading today, including post-colonial poetry novels, non-fiction books on international affairs, and articles on imperialism.
Nonetheless, I still want to read fantasy franchises, Black romances, lighthearted series, dramatic literature, and everything in between. Every genre deserves a chance to be dissected and simply enjoyed. Although some people think that the Internet is more of an entertaining alternative, there are lots of enthusiastic readers online who are willing to talk about all kinds of books and provide insider information to make reading more accessible and thus more enjoyable.
My journey toward audiobooks began earlier this spring. As school was winding down, I knew that I did not want to let the exhaustion of finals permanently sever my ties to books. Watching BookTubers such as Lily Reads ignited a flame in my mind, reviving my thirst for reading during leisure. The descriptions of each novel ── their purpose, their pitfalls, and similar novels to check out, ultimately piqued my interest. Kenya, the refreshing, creative mind of “Lily Reads” publishes comical yet critical videos examining books and authors. Rather than having a preachy book reviewer or a pretentious professor telling you what to read, Kenya feels like a friendly guardian in the world of literature. She delivers her personal do’s and dont’s and her platform radiates inclusivity. Every video leaves you satisfied and wanting more. Personally, these analyses introduced me to communities of diverse book readers who use theories about identities, their real-life experiences, and these novels to make poignant points about the world around us and ourselves in the process.
One of the first books I picked up was The Last Thing He Told Me, a suspenseful domestic thriller written by Laura Dave. In the novel, a husband goes missing after new findings of corruption at his workplace. A duo comprising a newly-wed stepmother and her apprehensive stepdaughter join forces in this heartwarming, yet nerve-wracking thriller. I had the pleasure of reading the book with two friends of mine from Twitter. Each Sunday on Discord, the three of us discussed the events, how the storyline mirrors real life and what we predicted would happen next. As fun as it was reading the novel, it was equally enjoyable to have people actively discussing the book── bouncing off ideas, reimagining the book every step of the way, and just appreciating how well written the book was. I felt like a detective, using clues written between the lines to decipher the messages the author intended and how it relates to my real thoughts and experiences.
From there came Audible. If you stumble across a BookTuber on YouTube, it is reasonable to assume that they have been and will continue to be sponsored by brands like Audible.. Having some money left to spare, I decided to register and explore the app. The first audiobook I remember listening to was How The One Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones. The book shows multiple points of view that touches on generational trauma, the legacy of colonialism, and domestic violence. I followed Lala, Myra and their peers throughout their journey on an unnamed Caribbean island billed as a paradise.
To simply say that the voice acting, performed by Danielle Vitalis, was spectacular is truly an understatement. Her ability to convey the thoughts, feelings, and general disposition of complete characters with only one voice and a variety of intonations is an exceptional talent that only served to enhance the listening experience. When reading a book page by page you interrupt it silently, using your inner voice to narrate the stories of millions of characters. However, reading with an audiobook lets you as the reader become more of a bystander. You have the opportunity to observe circumstances, no matter how sweet or tragic, play out while considering what you would and should do if something similar happened in real life.
Some readers enjoy the theorizing aspect of exploring literature. However, it is imperative to acknowledge the very real places many novels come from, both real and fantasy. A lot of these novels deal with isolation, abuse, bigotry, and oppression. We would all like to think that these situations and organizations don't exist in reality, but they are much more common than we would like to think. These books may be controversial or descriptive during their most trauma-inducing moments, but in the end, these books humanize readers. We scowl at horrible storylines and pitiful plots, and we stammer with awe, in the presence of amazing literature—regardless of the author’s fame. Sometimes, we have to take a step back. Nonetheless, there’s always a more wholesome, lighthearted, alternative to thrillers, horror novels, and dramas that are just as important and fulfilling.
Books are a powerful tool to counter bias, to not only see humanity in each other, but in ourselves. Alongside dependable friends and loving family members, these books have the power to reaffirm you in ways you wouldn’t believe imaginable. My current journey with reading is a testament to that very assertion. Words straight from the pen or audible lines, read from silent pages, are some of the many ways people can interact with literature. Harnessing the ability to accompany promising readers on the most difficult of days and dormant nights at home.
Edited by TeAnna Hernandez.
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