I believe Audiobooks have the power to change the world.
Can you imagine if all those who have difficulty reading were to discover that they actually loved reading, that books could open up a whole new world for them, and they could just listen to the words instead of struggling to make sense of the letters on the page?
Those who do not like to read could substitute the storytelling of books for the time they use to engage in stories on tv, radio or stage. They could engage more easily with assigned reading, current affairs, and popular literature.
In my mind, the group of people who have difficulty with conventional book consumption includes blind people, but the visually impaired community in particular can benefit from audiobooks. I myself only have one eye that has sufficient vision to read, and thus find that “good eye” doing a lot of straining all day long. I can not speak for those who read in Braille, for I do not, but I so appreciate being able to consume great literature by listening instead of struggling and straining to focus my eye on the little tiny letters. Millions of them.
While I have found audiobooks do not provide the built in reminders on proper grammar and spelling that comes with physically reading sentences from a screen or page, they do allow for plenty of opportunity to expand vocabulary, incite new ideas, engage in storytelling, learn how to structure sentences, and many other productive lessons.
At this point, Audiobooks are established well enough that a listener could basically tune in forever and never run out of great material. I have been an avid audiobook reader for over three years (how I wish they were so accessible when I attended high school and university!), and I never have any trouble finding something new even though not every release is recorded into audio format.
One of my favourite things about audiobooks is finding a great narrator. While a bad narrator has the potential to ruin a good book, a great narrator brings any story alive. They can make it all into a grand adventure. I know a bad book can not exactly be salvaged by a great reader, but it can sure help.
The best scenario is to come across a great book coupled with a great narrator, for this just equals a wonderful and memorable experience. Recently I decided to listen to Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple, narrated by Kathleen Wilhoite. Her voice, her tone, her enthusiasm, her acting, made for the best audiobook experience I have ever encountered. So now I feel compelled to let everyone know they should check this recording out if considering dipping a toe into the unfamiliar waters of walking while reading, cleaning while reading or reading with your eyes closed!
Audiobooks have absolutely changed my world. They have allowed me to read many more books at a greater speed and depth of understanding than I ever could with the vision I have. I just hope the rest of the world one day realizes and embraces this resource for the vast library of knowledge and literary accessibility that it provides.