Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling

What happens when you hear a text rather than read it? The obvious thing is that you can do something else with your eyes. That is why I can listen to books when I garden. My hands and eyes can work. And so listening to a book is a different sensory experience than reading it. The inner imagining of the story becomes commingled with the outer senses — my hands on the trowel, the scent of tansy in the breeze.

—T.M. Luhrmann, Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling—

I've always been curious about audiobooks but my primary activities—working (i.e. coding), reading, making music—require my full attention. When I'm really working, even regular conversation can be a huge distraction. And my longest commute is a 10-minute walk, which offers little opportunity for listening.

I wish I had a hobby that required my hands but not my conscious attention. I know I'm missing out on a lot—not just audiobooks but NPR and other podcasts that I hear about from friends. Theoretically, I could sit and listen attentively to NPR or a book, but somehow I never make the time. 

Maybe I'll try listening to This American Life next time I'm cooking a big meal.