We got a puppy last summer, and I have become the primary dog-walker. Brodie is a border collie mix, a rescue from the south, and as with most herding dogs, he’s very intense. He was also an anxious and high-energy puppy. He’s mellowed quite a bit, but one thing that we learned is that he is much calmer and happier if he gets a morning walk. In fact, it seemed that if he did not get a walk, he would not settle down, and not let me get things done. So, I started building into my day that I would spend a good hour every morning on our walk. Often it was more than an hour, sometimes less. While I recognized that this was something good for my health, it felt like it was eating a big chunk out of my productivity. I’d start the day with getting the kids up and out the door, starting around 7, and by the time I came home from the walk, it would be 10 or later. I was starting to resent my morning walks.
This summer, though, John got me some fancy wireless headphones, and shortly after, it dawned on me that I could use them on the walks. I hadn’t been listening to anything on my walks, because I wanted to be alert to sounds from traffic or other dogs. With my new AirPods, though, I could easily use only one at a time, leaving my other ear open to the rest of the world. And I started listening to audiobooks regularly, on almost every morning walk.
I’ve listened to a few novels, but the real win for me has been to listen to non-fiction audiobooks for books that I have been wanting to read, or have felt like I should read. I love reading, but non-fiction books don’t tend to hold my attention for long periods of time. (Or they put me to sleep.) As a result, it can take me a really long time to finish a book. On my walks, though, it’s been easy enough for me to listen to even a long book. And I’m definitely not going to doze off on the walk. Rather, I feel like I’ve been feeding my brain while walking.
I’m especially pleased to have finished listening to Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, which is a fascinating look at the often surprising ways in which our minds work. I’m currently listening to a related book, Nudge, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, which talks about decision-making. I’ve also listened to both Don’t Think of an Elephant and The Political Mind, by George Lakoff, and Saving Capitalism, by Robert Reich. (In case you wonder about a theme, all of these books are making me think about ways I can participate in affecting positive social and political change.)
How about you? Do you ever choose to listen to audiobooks? Any favorites to recommend?