Audiobooks: A Multi-Faceted Cure for the Holiday Blues
Pop in your earbuds and escape the holiday hustle and bustle with an audiobook.
Ah, the holidays. A time when the glitter of tiny lights appears in the most unexpected of places, songs of good cheer fill the air, and peace on earth and goodwill to folks everywhere becomes the reigning theme.
Unfortunately, the reality for many during this time of year is about as far from peaceful as one can imagine. In the ensuing inflation of a post-pandemic US, many are finding it hard to cover the basics as costs rise and salaries remain static, let alone setting aside time and effort for the process of what popular media advertises as “mandatory” gift-giving. Add in visits to or from extended family and the inevitable transportation congestion and chaos, and this time of peace and light can be anything but.
Enter audiobooks — which have proven to be a portable, affordable, and highly accessible medium for bibliotherapy, creating a one-touch storytelling experience anytime, anywhere. While nothing will fully replace the unique experience of flipping through the printed page, auditory stimulation has the unique power to soothe and relax — check out ten ways mentioned in Psychology Today.
During one memorable trip about ten years ago, while driving back to my then-home in Connecticut after celebrating Christmas at my parent’s house in Maryland, I found myself white-knuckling it through traffic and black ice at twilight over the George Washington Bridge. I prayed hard that my trusty beige Honda Civic and I were not going to end up meeting our maker in the Hudson River.
Thankfully, seasoned audiobook narrator Johnny Heller had my back, spinning a compelling vocal tapestry of hard-boiled intrigue with The Fat Man : A Tale of North Pole Noir by Ken Harmon — a book to this day I could never imagine simply reading on the page. Heller took an undeniably stressful situation and, with his compelling narrative, made the traffic and the darkness just an apropos atmospheric part of the listening experience.
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“There is stillness and peace in listening to a story,” shares audiobook narrator and visual artist Zura Johnson. “One winter, during an extensive power outage, my family sat together in front of the fireplace listening to an audiobook on my phone. Even my tweens were pulled into the magic of it. It was the most together we had been in a very long time. All present in the same moment.”
Speaking from her perspective as a professional narrator, Johnson says there is a sense of sharing and connection that comes from storytelling that becomes especially important around the holidays.
“Many of us who do not live near family have to find that sense of connection elsewhere,” shares Johnson. “For me, it is sharing stories. Connecting others through shared experiences or laughter or the escape into fantastical worlds.”
Audiobooks can add external relief to one’s environment in addition to internal benefits. There has been a growing trend to combat the traditionally material-based American way of life as proof of success and status, made popular by influencers like The Minimalists. Audiobooks can cut down on another material item to store or shelve. Also, many titles can be accessed at no cost thanks to OverDrive free apps, such as Libby, that allow access to audiobooks as well as e-books and magazines through your local library, cutting down on financial worries that can plague many this time of year.
Audiobooks are also an excellent, economical gift option — Audible allows members to use their monthly credits to instantly gift audiobooks to loved ones via their email address. The recipients do not have to have a paid membership to Audible to access the gifted title — just have the app downloaded onto their phone under their free Amazon account.
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Award-winning narrator and author Tanya Eby shares her perspective on how audiobooks are healing from the storyteller’s perspective as well.
“The thing I love about stories is the same thing I love about narrating: You can be transported to a different world by words alone,” says Eby. “When I am in the booth, and chaos is swirling outside [kids, family get-togethers, party, planning, shopping, etc.], I close the door on the world, power up my iPad, and begin to narrate. Suddenly, everything falls away, and I am transported. There is a beautiful tunnel vision that happens when you are performing. You are focused on the now and the scene and the characters in front of you.”
Not sure where to start? Visit AudioFile Magazine to kick off your audiobook holiday bibliotherapy!
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