Audiobooking my way through lockdown (aka how I refound my reading mojo)

Over the past several months, I’ve hit a serious reading block. Not a slump or a spell; an honest to gods Book Based Block. While I’ve just about managed to read our book club choices month to month, I haven’t been reading anything else.

At all.

And then we went into lockdown.

The first few weeks I coped by keeping busy. Lots of cleaning and tidying. I found the days all a bit quiet, so – as recommended by the Elf – I started listening to BBC 6 Music in the evenings. And binge listening to Cillian Murphy’s playlists on the app (Please may I have them all again? Please?)

However, every time I opened a book, I’d become distracted and end up foostering instead. It had actually stopped bothering me; not reading felt like my new normal.

And then two tiny tweaks to my routine changed everything.

The first is that one of my BFF’s (and occasional LBC Reviewer) suggested a weekly video call. First we catch up on our lives (‘I’ve gone nowhere, spoken to no one and been nowhere. How about you?’) then we read whatever we fancy for about 20 minutes, then discuss our books. We’ll then read again or chat until her partner starts sending passive aggressive messages via YouTube (I am not joking) to remind us to go to bed.

It’s been WICKED! Easily my favourite thing about this whole strange period and I hope that we keep up our weekly counselling sessions catch ups FOR EVER AND EVER.

For my first read-a-long, I picked up Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone as I read about people re-visiting their childhood favourites and reckoned I’d be able to chat about it on twitter (!). By week two, I was flying through the Chamber of Secrets because – even without Laini on the line – I was starting to carve out a daily reading routine again.

Using our trusty system, I’ve also finished Mugabe and the White African (an incredibly tough read) and have started Hiding in Plain Sight – a present from Laini and written by an author in her book club. (It’s set in my home town so I’m excited to get stuck in!).

It might sound odd to others, but these read-a-longs are easily one of the highlights of my week. Yes, it’s a little strange that I couldn’t seem to open a book without an audience but having a trusty friend to ‘practise’ reading with has been heaven sent.

The second tweak came in the post. My brother and mother gifted me with a kindle for my birthday!!! There is a lovely sort of symmetry to this as my brother and I got my mum hers way back when. And we’ve inherited her love of stories (reading slump aside) so it gives me a very ‘May the circle be Unbroken’ feeling.

(My old one still works but takes about ten minutes to boot up and has been passed on to a student who is as excited about it as I was and am for my new toy!!)

I had a voucher from the Unmentionable Monolith and decided to treat myself to Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow. There was an audiobook option and once I realised how pricey audiobook are – the cheapskate in me decided to give it a go.

IT’S BEEN TRANSFORMATIVE!

I can read (ish) while keeping my hands busy. It’s not exactly the same – I don’t think I retain details in quite the same way as when I read them – but I’m flying through audiobooks! My kindle and little Bluetooth speaker now regularly keep me company in the allotment/garden/on walks (not the speaker – I’m not that rude!).

And I’ve made my way through:

  • Catch and Kill – written and read by Ronan Farrow
  • Blowout – WAR by Rachel Maddow
  • Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari
  • Natives – WAR by Akala (on chapter 8)

And the following lined up:

  • Brit(Ish) – WAR by Afua Hirsh
  • Dead Famous – WAR by Greg Jenner
  • How To Be Right – WAR by James O’Brien

It feels wonderful to have a few reads under my belt, though I’m not entirely sure that I’m out of my slump – I still have to consciously decide to read, it’s not my instinctive go to activity yet – at least the block has lifted.

Perhaps I’ll even get around to reviewing some of them? Well…let’s just take it a day at a time eh 🤣

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