The whole point of listening to an audiobook is to experience a book when my hands are otherwise occupied — around the steering wheel, carrying totes to work, or holding onto the subway pole. As I listen, I feel the intimacy with the reader, as if the words are being spoken just for my ears. When a story has multiple narrators and multiple readers, I’m transported into each of the character’s minds as if their thoughts and memories are also mine. The tone, gender, race and style of the reader helps me pay attention to every nuance in the writing. And, I’m swept up as I was as a little child listening to my parents read each chapter of a wonderful story to me at bedtime.
It’s especially thrilling to hear authors read their own books. I just listened to two amazing advice books read by their respective authors: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear and Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, and I expect that they will change my personal and professional life.
This is where I need help…when I listen to a book that is teaching me something.
I bonded with Elizabeth Gilbert as she read her memoir Eat, Pray, Love so felt like an old friend and I were back in conversation again when she started Big Magic: “Once upon a time there was a man named Jack Gilbert…” Last time, she took me along as she escaped the end of a relationship to her culinary escapades in Italy, blissful silences in India and return to love in Indonesia. This time she was going to guide me headlong into a magical creative life.
My experience with her two audiobooks, however, couldn’t have been more different. Listening to Eat, Pray, Love was a long, delicious ride through emotional highs and lows over two days. In fact, I found myself sitting in my parked car for over an hour just to finish the journey, tears rolling down my eyes.
In contrast, after only 10 minutes into Big Magic, I pressed pause.
“Stop! Don’t go on”, I said out loud to my odometer. “I need to remember this. Wait — “A creative life is an amplified life.” How am I going to remember that?”
Reluctantly, after choosing the acronym CLAL as a potential memory trigger, I pushed play. 7 minutes later, another pause:
“Why would I want to keep my limitations?”
That’s quite a profound question so I needed to pause again to think about what that meant to me. What are my beliefs around my limitations? Do I pay attention to the possibility that the belief may not be real, but serves only as an obstacle to moving forward?
As you can imagine, that question kept my mind busy for the rest of my drive.
Can you guess how long it took me to listen to the whole book? Let’s just say that it was exponentially longer than the memoir.
The amount of time that passed from beginning to end was not the only difference between my two experiences with Ms. Gilbert’s audiobooks. The most unsettling difference was my feeling after the voice came on at the end to tell me ‘you have just listened to an Audible recording’.
After the memoir I felt spent, exhausted but deeply satisfied.
After Big Magic, I felt unsettled and restless. I was sure that I had forgotten the most powerful tips that I had tried so hard to remember. I couldn’t even remember the acronyms. I was tired and felt guilty that I hadn’t stopped at the side of the road to write down every meaningful piece of advice.
Simon Sinek is similarly brilliant. I had watched his famous Ted Talk 20 times. I knew that listening to his passionate reading of Start With Why would keep me so riveted and inspired that I would hear his words echoing in my brain long after I turned off the engine. To be fair, I was right. Mr. Sinek’s voice had such urgency and was so compelling that I listened to the entire book in one day driving round-trip from CT to NJ in just over 7 hours.
So true! So true! I knew. “Inspiration is magic. Emotion drives us.” I can apply this to my recruiting and my company’s culture and our sales pitches.
Sadly, however, after just a few days, I could not remember what exactly I was supposed to do to articulate my why. And what should I amplify — wait, was that from Big Magic? When does a why go fuzzy? Where does structure come in?
Gone. The details of everything I had learned. Vanished.
All that was left was the voice, the urgency, the way each message was delivered with exactly the right language, which I couldn’t clearly remember.
In the end, the audiobooks proved to be only inspirational. I couldn’t retain the details to create the “Big Magic” and transform my “Why into How and What.”
Why can’t the audiobook come bundled with an app that I can download to remind me what to do and track my progress? If I had an app, I could simply enjoy the audiobook without worrying about acronyms.
Inspiration is exciting and full of promise. But, to make it more than a fleeting sensation, I need a mobile coach to keep me accountable.
Where are the audiobook apps? Why don’t they exist?
What is your experience?
This is one reason I began my mission at AdviceCoach. To learn more about how we’re transforming audio books, click here.