Can't Concentrate on Reading? Try Audiobooks
Lots of us are finding concentration a lot harder than normal during lockdown. For me, early 2021 has been the hardest. A long lockdown combined with winter weather has left my attention span shorter than ever before. I would like to be spending all this time I now have catching up on the reading I've always wanted to do, but the thick classics I optimistically bought almost a year ago are still sat, spines uncracked, on my bookshelf. Going for too long without reading anything is also difficult, however. But there is a solution - and it's audiobooks.
If you've never tried audiobooks before, then this is the time! We're not in normal times, so trying something different with your reading routine can only help! But if you need convincing, here are five reasons to try audiobooks:
Audiobooks Remove the Need to Decode
For your brain, reading is more complicated than just seeing the words on the page. In 1986, psychologists Gough and Turner theorised that reading involves two things: decoding, which is understanding the words that combinations of letters are creating, and then language comprehension, which is understanding the meaning of those words. This is called the Simple View of Reading.
Importantly, Gough and Turner define language comprehension as the ability to understand words as if they had been spoken aloud.
So, what does that mean for audiobooks? Well, removing the need to read the written words takes out a process involved. Having the story read aloud means that the brain can move straight onto language comprehension so we don't have to keep concentrating on decoding for long periods.
This isn't just great for those of us who can't concentrate in lockdown. It's also really valuable for people who find reading difficult as the result of something like dyslexia or other learning disabilities.
Audiobooks Are Engaging
Lots of us are finding that motivation to get up and do anything is difficult to come by. I've never been so exhausted when doing so little. And I certainly can't imagine finding the enthusiasm to read.
But, audiobooks can help here too! Sometimes the hardest part of reading is starting a book. Spending that time getting invested is a hurdle my motivation cannot jump over. However, I find that listening to an audiobook speeds up this process, just by virtue of having it read aloud!
Audiobooks Combat Isolation
Whatever your living situation, there's a chance that lockdowns have made us all feel pretty lonely. If you're living alone this is probably obvious, but even if you're living with others then there's a high chance you're still missing spending time with friends and family.
Playing an audiobook can really help with this. Narrators are speaking directly to you. A comedian narrating their memoir is giving you a personal set, while narration of a fiction book brings the outside world directly to your ears. A great narrator can shift tone and expression for each character so that a whole cast of people are invited into your life. In this way, a voice reading a story can work like a shield against isolation.
Audiobooks Give You Time to Read
Can't sit down long enough to open a book and read? Maybe you're working from home, and homeschooling, and trying to keep on top of household chores on top of that and the idea of opening a book at the end of the day is just way too much.
Audiobooks are great for fitting around a busy routine. You can press play and catch up while you're making lunch or dinner - or breakfast! Or pop a pair of headphones on to give your daily exercise an exciting twist. Plus, listening to audiobooks as a family is a great evening activity if watching more TV or a film just doesn't appeal anymore.
Audiobooks are Soothing
Do you remember being read aloud to as a child? I don't have vivid memories of it because it was too long ago now. But I can tell you that listening to a narrator read an audiobook evokes a feeling of comfort that I associate with being read to as a child.
Especially if I am feeling quite anxious about something, which has happened a lot during the pandemic and lockdowns, I find audiobooks the most soothing way to enjoy a story. They remove the pressure of reading - you can even listen to an audiobook in the dark! Curl up in bed, close your eyes, and let the story wash over you. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't get much better!
Whether you're looking for something to help you relax a little, or something to help you drift off to sleep, audiobooks can fill this gap perfectly.
If you have an illness, disability, learning difficulty or mental health issue that makes reading print or holding a book difficult, Listening Books can help. We are a UK charity providing an audiobook library for anyone with a print impairment. Membership starts from just £20 per year to listen to 10 books a week, or free if you couldn't afford this annual cost! Find out more at our website.