I blame Nick Hornby , Stephen Fry and audible.com for my downward spiral into addiction to audio books.


In 2012,  exposure to Hornby's "Juliet Naked" , told in three voices, convinced me for the first time, that not only could audio books be as good as reading a "real" book, they could be better.


Then I decided that I wanted to re-read the Harry Potter books. I had them on my shelves. I could just have picked them up and started reading like a normal person, but I let Stephen Fry tempt me. Fry was  BORN to read Harry Potter. Every nuance of British class structure, every sly piece of humour, every shred of fear and sadness and despair, became richer on his tongue. I felt like someone who was hearing music played for the first time and knew at once how hard it would be to return to reading the notes off the page.


The final enabler of my addiction was audible.com. Hornby and Fry had come to me on CDs that were intimidatingly expensive, hard to find in stores, difficult to handle, bulky to store and only really useful in my car. A subscription to audible.com changed all that. They enabled my addiction by giving me access to thousands of audio books that I could download instantly and listen to at any time on my iPod. They set up their pricing so that the more books I subscribed to take in a year, the cheaper each book became, until audiobooks competed with the price of paperbacks. They constantly offered me deals and discounts and they even commissioned books that are at their best when listened to.


I fell.




My wife knew, of course. She laughed at me for always having my earpieces in and my head somewhere else. I solved the problem the way addicts always have, I afflicted her with my addiction. Now she has a fine Beats headset, an iPod touch and a listening habit. She has more control than I do. She only uses audiobooks for recreational purposes on the weekend and to help her relax before she goes to sleep.


Today, I saw an Audiobook reading challenge on Booklikes  and realised the extent of my addiction.


The challenge describes five levels of Audiobook readers:

  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+

Of course, I wanted to know where I sat on this scale, so I went back and checked. That was when I understood that 2013 was the first year when the ONLY books I read where audiobooks. Then I realised that I hadn't read 3o of them, I'd read 60 of them (see the collage at the top of this post).


At an average of nine hours a book, that's 540 hours or almost two hours a day EVERY day of the year.


So what have I decided to do about it?


I'm siding with Oscar Wilde and affirming that the best way to deal with temptation is to give in to it.


I'm taking up the Audiobook challenge to read about the same number of audiobooks in 2014 but this time I will review more of them. I wrote 20 reviews in 2013. I'd like to make that 30 in 2014. I'll keep you posted on  my progress.


If any of you would like to join me, pop over to Booklikes and sign up for the challenge. The sites below are well equipped to enable your addiction without having to spend any money on iTunes (who I haven't forgiven for keeping the price of ebooks higher than they should be).