I’m reading differently

For the last couple of years I’ve been reading a mixture of spy genre and lit fict. I’d read From Russia with Love, by Ian Fleming, followed by Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights, then Berlin Game by Len Deighton, and Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry. I did realise that I was going through a phase of sorts.

I’d promised myself a while ago that I would catch up on Fleming and Len Deighton. It was something that I wanted to do as a completionist more than anything else. Not that I’m a book completionist — just the opposite really — I’m quite a fussy reader, and easily bored.

Another pattern that’s been emerging over time is that I buy a lot of Kindle eBooks which often sell with the option of buying a heavily discounted audio book version. The two together often sell for less than the RRP of the printed paperback.

I find it easer to analyse the writing when I’m listening to the story. This is probably because my critical thinking isn’t preoccupied with reading the words. It’s a different kind of storytelling experience.

I probably ‘read’ about 50% of books… by listening to them. I used to somewhat ‘look down’ on audio books, but that’s completely changed. There are a lot of really excellent audio books, especially when you get to listen to the author reading their own words. Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry, or Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell… it’s like having a private reading in the room with you.

Another weird pattern that’s emerging is that I part read books in ebook form and part listen to the rest as an audiobook. I often re-read something I’ve listened to (to ‘look at the sentences and paragraphs’), or I go in the other direction and listen to a book I’ve read.

This is probably the kind of behaviour publishers’ marketing departments can only dream of. I’m effectively paying twice for the ‘same thing’. Sometimes, I’m paying three times — once more for the paperback, if I like the story enough. There’s something different about a book that I still enjoy, the physicality, ink on paper, thumbing through the pages, the correlation between your progress through the story and the thing itself.