Unabridged Access

30 July 2015

My First Audiobook (and how it saved me from my commute)

Our Summer Intern, Emily, on listening to—and falling in love with—her first audiobook.

I spend 825 minutes a week commuting from Connecticut to New York. In other words, I have a lot of free time. Usually, I pass the time on the train with a combination of reading, listening to music, fidgeting, or grumbling that the person next to me is taking up too much room.

While I have mastered the art of reading while running on the treadmill, reading on the train is not as easy. Whether my eyes are just too tired in the morning, or the rowdy post-Yankee game fans sitting next to me are making it hard to concentrate, most days I was foregoing my book for some extra shut eye…

That is, until a few weeks ago, when I discovered the ultimate commuting hack: an audiobook. My first listen was Summer Secrets, which was both written and narrated by Jane Green. Green, an audiobook veteran, read from a variety of perspectives, to piece together the disastrous life of Cat Coombs. Cat’s twenty something years were great. She had a budding career as a journalist, dozens of friends, and spent her weekends entertained by good company, good food, and good drinks. But after one too many hangovers and drunken mistakes, Cat not only realizes that she is destroying her life, but that she needs to find a way to fix it. Green’s versatility is mesmerizing, as she voices British Cat in one chapter, her husband in another, and her long lost American sister in the next.

After the first few minutes of Summer Secrets, my near two hour commute was flying by. No, train! Stop! Please, I need to finish this chapter! I found myself relishing in Metro North’s constant delays, and not minding the walk from the Flatiron to Grand Central. For the next week, I felt like my headphones were my most necessary extremity. Whether I was going to the gym, or waiting for my car’s oil to be changed, not a moment of my free time was wasted. Well, maybe except for eating…. But the second I was finished, Jane Green’s voice was back in my ear, and Cat was one step closer to figuring her life out.

I finished listening on a Thursday night, half way through my train ride—and I was devastated. Not because of the way Summer Secrets had ended (because trust me, it was fantastic), but because it was over. My constant source of entertainment had come to an end. And there I was, stuck on the train: bored, fighting off sleep, and wishing I had just one more chapter to listen to. Then I laughed at myself. By my calculations, I still had 4,150 minutes of commuting to go—and hundreds of chapters of dozens of audiobooks to listen to for the rest of the summer!

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