Loving Audiobooks

 

Why I Love Audiobooks2

The weeks before the holidays are prime times for listening to audiobooks while decorating, cooking, and wrapping packages. Publishers release many audios tailored for the season each year, so you can listen to one of your classic favorites or a new title as you work.

 

Some weeks ago, I described my love of books in traditional format and the benefits of including e-books in my reading routines. A third format, the audiobook, has made it possible for me to broaden my options even further.

In the past, some purists didn’t consider listening to audiobooks to be “reading”. I count mine because I receive the same benefits from audiobooks as I do with traditional books, except for practicing reading as a skill. Reading books encompasses much, much more and my reading diet doesn’t suffer by the inclusion of an occasional audiobook.

Here are some reasons I enjoy audiobooks:

  1. They allow me to enjoy more books. I am able to add several titles to my “have read” list each year that I could not have otherwise included .
  2. I’m able to listen while I do other activities, such as getting dressed for the day, putting on make-up, folding laundry and loading the dishwasher. The weeks before the holidays are prime times for listening to audiobooks while decorating, cooking, and wrapping packages. Publishers release many audios tailored for the season each year, so you can listen to one of your classic favorites or a new title as you work.
  3. Audiobooks are very portable when I have them downloaded to my phone. I don’t even need to carry a reader to catch a few minutes of a good book.
  4. I can escape to an audiobook during boring or not-so-pleasant experiences, such as waiting in the doctor’s office or standing in a long line. (Earbuds come in handy during those times.)
  5. I can listen to an audiobook when traveling, and not be tied in to others’ listening preferences. You don’t have to listen to your least favorite type of music when trapped in a car with others who love it. You can take out your audiobook, nod to those whose taste in music differs from yours, and enjoy the ride.
  6. Excellent narration adds another dimension to my listening experience. Some books I’ve enjoyed lately that have been enhanced by the narration include The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg (narrated by the author), American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee (narrated by the author and Mark Bramhall), and The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck (narrated by Suzanne Toren).
  7. Audiobook sources are constantly expanding and being refined. Subscription services such as Amazon’s Audible offer customers great selections from best sellers to those addressing specific interests.
  8. I live in audiobook nirvana because my library offers titles to check out that I can listen to on one of my devices. Be sure to check with your local library to see if this service is available!

Some additional titles that I have listened to and enjoyed include The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell, A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter, Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson, The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian, Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal, and The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.

 

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Including Books in Your Autumn and Thanksgiving Décor

Books are so much a part of my life. How could they not be a part of my décor?

Fall Kitchen3

I love the change of the seasons and the celebration of holidays. I also adore books. Putting the two together is nirvana.

I am a collector on a small (and inexpensive) scale. I have collected seasonal decorations for decades and can say that my collection is pretty much (notice that I didn’t say absolutely) complete. My book collection will never be complete, and contenders for additional space include new holiday and seasonal books.  I will always find a place for them.

Fall LR1

Here are some ideas for you to consider for adding some books to your autumn decorating, which I will assume is finished by now. You will probably still find a spot or two to proclaim your love of books through the rest of the month, and then we can begin one of my very favorite traditions: bringing out the Christmas books!

First, look through your books and select those that are in autumn colors.  You can use these to give more height or emphasis to your autumn pieces.  Put them aside for now, as you consider other books that could work with your décor.

Next, you’ll want to look at your book covers.  Many of mine are specific to the season, but you can also consider covers for both fiction and nonfiction titles that evoke memories or emotions that autumn recalls for you and your family.

If you collect decorating books, as I do, look through them for photographs that have autumn or Thanksgiving scenes. I also have some crafts books that focus on the seasons and have found that the pages dividing one season from the next often have spectacular or unusual photographs.

Fall LR2

Fall Kitchen1

Don’t forget to look through your books by your favorite artists or illustrators. I have found several favorites in my books by Mary Engelbreit and Marjolein Baston.

Fall LR3

Cookbooks usually have really nice photography of food for the season, as well as table decorations. The weeks before Thanksgiving are a great time to use these illustrations for tableaux or vignettes in your kitchen or dining area. Even recipes can be a part of your decoration!

Fall Kitchen2

 

If your collection is small or limited in books that you can use, a trip to the library can provide a treasure trove for decorating for the season. Don’t forget to look at the sale tables for things you can use next year when you begin your Christmas shopping at your local book store.

I will be looking forward our annual “welcome back” to our Christmas books soon after Thanksgiving and to sharing them with you in December!

Books from my collection used in these photographs include: Nature’s Sketchbook by Marjolein Baston, Mary Engelbreit’s Autumn by Charlotte Lyons, Gooseberry Patch Celebrate Autumn, A Year in the Country by Tessa Evelegh, Fall Notebook by Carolyne Roehm, American Family Style by Mary Randolph Carter, and Cookie Craft by Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer.

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From NaNoWriMo to Winter’s Words

Winter's Words

The Birth of Winter’s Words: My Personal Writing Challenge

For those who aren’t involved in writing and/or publishing, NaNoWriMo refers to National Novel Writing Month, which happens in November of each year.  As an event, it has reached epic proportions since it was first kicked off in 1999, with almost 400,000 taking part last year, and many authors’ books being published and even reaching best-selling status.

Every year since NaNoWriMo was launched, I have considered registering and taking part in its activities, and felt like I had let myself down when I let it pass by without participating. All of the initial excitement was contagious, but I found myself in a period of self-blame for letting the opportunity to finish my novel pass me by once more.

All I needed to do was to commit myself to writing 50,000 words during November.

This year, I decided that I was going to participate, but never actually registered. I read what was recommended on the NaNoWriMo website and found that it didn’t fit me.

When shopping for an article of clothing, if we find something that doesn’t fit, we must make a choice to buy it and wear it as it is (telling ourselves that it doesn’t really matter that it is a little long, or short, or tight, or loose), or find (or create) something that fits perfectly.

I decided that I would need to create my own version of NaNoWriMo, tailoring it to my own needs. Here are the reasons for creating my own personal “Winter’s Words Writing Challenge”, which will take place in January and February of 2018:

  1. November is a crowded month, when time seems to accelerate. Our family’s Thanksgiving celebrations are already our first priority and each year call for more flexibility in scheduling our (ever-expanding) events. I could see almost immediately after my recent and premature decision to participate in NaNoWriMo, that it would simply overwhelm me. My husband was scheduled for surgery on November 1; I already had several readers’ and writers’ events on my calendar that I didn’t want to miss; we were looking forward to a visit from Tom’s son; and then it would be time for Thanksgiving.
  2. In my world, November is also prep time for December and the holidays. I enjoy the planning, the process and the results, and go into full swing in the days following Thanksgiving. This Christmas will be an especially joyful occasion because all of my children and families will be together, something that hasn’t happened since before my youngest grandchildren were born. Again, November will be spent enjoying Thanksgiving and in anticipation for Christmas.
  3. I am choosing January and February for my writing challenge because I would like more than one month for my personal writing goal. These two months have traditionally been a time for taking a breath and focusing on what we want to accomplish during the coming year.
  4. In Oklahoma, ice and snow are often on the horizon and there are days when we are advised to stay at home. That “digging in” can naturally be transformed into an extra day or two of focused writing.
  5. There are three holidays during the months of January and February which could be earmarked for writing.
  6. I am happy to set my own goal for the number of words or pages to be written, instead of approaching it from what someone else considers appropriate or doable.
  7. My personal writing challenge is not limited to novels, but can be adapted to any form of writing. For example, deep winter could be an excellent catalyst for poetry or memoir.

Some of these reasons for creating my own writing challenge are covered quite nicely within the NaNoWriMo umbrella and I will be consulting the website for the many resources that are offered there. I also want to congratulate all of my friends who are participating in NaNoWriMo and will continue to follow their progress during November.

My primary reason for “Winter’s Words” will be to set my focus ahead to what I wish to accomplish during January and February. I will report my progress here in my blog and, in more detail, in my Marginalia newsletter.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my “Marginalia” newsletter (click here). You’ll receive it by email each month and see links to each of my blog posts, other bookish news and information, and progress reports on my own writing.