Audiobooks have always been a part of my life, and there have been more of them than I can remember or count. Some stand out particularly: D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which four-to-eight-year-old Naia would always insist on hearing in the car and during baths. Later, in my teens and twenties, there would be Sabriel, His Dark Materials, Good Omens, Middlemarch, Lolita, and Wuthering Heights.
But in between, of course, was the Harry Potter series. Nine-to-twelve-year-old Naia listened to these so ceaselessly that her Dad started to worry she’d “inherited his obsessive personality.” I remember Harry’s story as a tale that ran parallel to my own growing up, a vindication of my weirdness and difference. But the tapes were also a useful everyday tool, like a microwave or a tape dispenser – they could transform and repair things. My friend Sarah needed Jim Dale’s voice to fall asleep, for example – he gave her good dreams. And every time there was a thunderstorm, my dog Ivy would clatter and clack up the stairs (something she’d never do normally) to cower by my bed. She’d only calm down when I talked to her – but I couldn’t stay up talking all night, so eventually I’d hit PLAY on my radio. The voice of Jim Dale never faltered or stopped, and The Prisoner of Azkaban or The Order of the Phoenix would lull us both through the rest of the stormy night.
And I realize, as I’m writing this, that my audiobooks continue to be companions even now: friends that I call to life when I’m alone in the house or anxious on a journey, or even just in need of entertainment while I wash the dishes.