At this point in many of our lives, we rarely have time to read for fun. I used to read at least a book a week; last school year, however, I only read one novel that wasn’t for class. Most high school students find it hard to squeeze books into their schedules and this is very understandable; we all have mountains of homework, play sports, participate in clubs, take part in community service, meet with teachers, write college essays, attend competitions, have social lives – you name it, we do it.
Except we don’t often read for fun (although I must acknowledge that this is a broad generalization, as I’m sure that there are many people who do, by some miracle, find time to read).
Because we are all so busy, whenever we do happen to have a few spare minutes when we can relax, it’s difficult to start a book because you never know when you are actually going to finish it – it could be months from the day you started. This, at least for me, acts as a reading deterrent because picking up a book weeks after you started it and not remembering what it was about is discouraging, to say the least.
However, there is another option for book lovers who simply cannot find time to read: audiobooks! An audiobook is essentially what its name implies – it is an entire book read out loud that you can download onto your device and listen to whenever you want. It’s possible to listen to audiobooks while cooking, brushing your teeth, doing mundane work (copying Chinese characters, anyone?) and more. This makes them a lot more convenient for busy students than reading regular books because you don’t have to wait for free time to read.
There are also many benefits to listening to a book read aloud. First, if a good narrator reads your audiobook, you can find the content to be much more entertaining than it would be on paper – good narrators read with expression that you do not hear when you are the one reading. Second, having a book read aloud means that you are less likely to miss sections by skimming ahead. If a book is really good, many will sometimes skip a page in eagerness to get ahead and often time send up missing important parts they need to go back and read – audiobooks ensure that you never miss any words or sentences of the story. Last, having someone else read aloud to you improves your pronunciation, as trivial as this may seem. When you are reading by yourself and see a word you don’t know, it is likely that the way you pronounce it in your head will be wrong, especially if it’s a word that sounds different from how it looks. By having a narrator read the book aloud, you will easily learn how to pronounce words you may have been confused by otherwise. This is especially helpful for students enjoying a book in their non-native language. It also helps when you are asked to read aloud in class and you come across words you would otherwise have mispronounced; it saves the embarrassment.
Reading is important for your own growth. It automatically improves your grammar, vocabulary, and writing skills; but above all, it’s just fun. It’s nice to be able to escape into another world or someone else’s life and share in those adventures. For those of us busy book-lovers who can never find time to read, audiobooks are a great and convenient alternative to consider.
This article originally appeared in the August/September, 2015 issue of UNIT-E. It was written by Riena Harker, a student at the International School of Beijing.
UNIT-E was founded in the spring of 2010 with the aim of establishing a non-profit, student-run magazine for international students in Beijing. Staffed by current students from a range of international schools, the magazine provides an amalgam of cultural tidbits, fragments of Beijing student life, and a broad spectrum of unique perspectives from a diverse group of young adults.
Photo: Neetalparekh (flickr)