Book roundup, Jan-June 2011



Audio lectures:

eBooks: 22
Audiobooks: 19
Audio lectures: 2

I think this is the first time since I've started using audiobooks that I've read more books in print than in audio, and I'm pretty sure this is the most books I've ever read in 6 months. It's been fun and my reading speed is getting better. I've never been happy with my reading speed but if I push it, my retention drops to zero. If I read a paragraph much faster than my normal speed, I couldn't tell you what it was about at all. So I have to push the speed up slowly.
It is comforting to know I am not the only slow reader in fandom. I feel like everybody I know just blows through books, and it takes me forever to read a book (regardless of the form factor or subject). I can't finish a print book sooner than I can listen to an audiobook (although if I could read print while driving, the delta would decrease considerably). Even now, after many years of straight As and a degree in literature and a Masters that involved a stupefying amount of reading, it is hard for me to read and it feels like a real accomplishment to get all the way through a big book. It's the main reason why I will tend to finish the books I start, like and recommend the books I finish, and get really pissed if a book turns out to be not worth reading after I've sunk 100 pages or so worth of effort into it. It's also why I have about 25 books in my collection that are still waiting to be read, most of which date back to before the commercial availability of e-readers. I will say my iPad has dramatically increased the amount of reading I do, and it sounds like your eBook reading is doing the same for you.

Up until a couple of years ago when I really started pushing, my reading speed was pretty much exactly speaking speed. I've been able to improve on that, the ereaders have helped, particularly the new ones with faster page turns. I don't know exactly why this is.

I will say that I still enjoy the act of reading better if I slow down to speaking speed, but I enjoy getting through more of the story more afterwards so I try to read faster.

I also now run RockBox firmware on my MP3 player, which allows me to control the reading speed and pitch of audiobooks separately; this has been handy when I get the occasional female reader with a shrill voice, or a male reader with a lower voice. And for slow readers I've cranked the speed up to as much as 185%.

I actually do read print faster than even that now if I'm really able to concentrate, but I still get through audiobooks at least as fast simply because I have more time to spend on audiobooks; I can listen to them while riding my bike, weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, etc.

Another problem that I have is that I'm absolutely the most hopeless unitaskers that I know of. If I'm listening to something, it's nearly impossible for me to do anything else that requires that part of the brain. If I'm listening to an audiobook, I can't really do anything that requires any language at all, even reading a road sign causes me to lose the audio stream for several seconds. If I'm listening to an audiobook in the car and the GPS says something, I completely lose the ability to hear what either of them said, it just turns into a jumble. I can't really listen to music and do anything else. I love music but I seldom listen to it because I really can't unless I'm just standing still and doing absolutely nothing else, and I never have the time for that.

Edited at 2011-07-02 01:48 am (UTC)
I understand that too. It's not *quite* that bad for me, but it drives me completely NUTS when I'm trying to concentrate on something (particularly if I'm trying to read) and there's music or TV or other language-noise in the environment. I'm ok with some types of more "ambient" music if it doesn't have any words, but if it has lyrics, forget it.

If you subscribe at all to the "multiple intelligences" theory -- which I sort of buy and sort of don't, but there's a boatload of anecdotal evidence supporting multiple learning styles if not multiple "intelligences" per se -- my two main ones are verbal and musical, with musical being the more prevalent. I was in a seminar once where someone was demonstrating facilitation techniques using the theory of multiple intelligences. She gave us a spatial relationship task (building something out of blocks or some such) and played music while we worked. I tried to explain to her afterwards that this was actually not serving me as a musical learner in any way whatsoever, because I needed too much brain for listening to the music and had none left over for the spatial task (doubly so because spatial is my weakest style).

I hate talking GPSs even though I grudgingly recognize their extreme usefulness. I'm not a big fan of visual displays that move in cars either, for similar reasons.
I really like the GPS and think it needs to talk, because there's no way I'll remember to look at it at the right time since usually when it's telling me to take this ramp, I've been driving for 3 hours without it saying anything.

I dissed GPSs for many years until I realized that they're not just about the destination, they're about the trip, and being a bit of an expert guide wherever you are. I love being able to just tap in fast food, "taco" while driving and have it pop up all the Taco Bells nearby, with arrows for their directions, and pick one that's ahead and have it take me there, then continue on the way. Or being able to go to the car in the hotel parking lot and tap in "office supplies" and finding some nearby, even in a place I've never been before.