Discussion | What Do You Use Audiobooks For?

Hi folks! Today I bring you a somewhat rare post about audiobooks. This isn’t so much a discussion about which audiobooks I chose or when I listen to them; rather, this is more of a word vomit discussion of a tendency I’ve noticed I have regarding audiobooks. You see, I’ve noticed that I predominantly use them to “re-read” books I’ve already read which may seem pointless but let me explain…

handmaidaudiobookRecently I decided that I needed to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood in preparation for watching the TV adaptation which finally started airing in the UK on Sunday nights on Channel 4 recently. I decided this on the preceding Friday morning, when I was already in work, so I didn’t have a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale with me, much less the reading time to get through it by Sunday night. It’s not a particularly long book, but it’s also not that quick of a read, so I was very conscious that I probably didn’t have enough hours to physically read the book at the weekend.

However, a quick search of my library’s Overdrive offerings revealed that they had the audiobook, as read by Joanna David, available to borrow. And I was having a slow day in work, where I needed to input fairly monotonous data onto a spreadsheet and do some research via Google to find out some author details. So, I could listen to something. I had tried listening to a new audiobook and I had tried listening to a podcast (I’m currently making my way through Witch Please, why had I not listened to that sooner?!?), but I just wasn’t feeling it. So I popped on The Handmaid’s Tale audiobook and was very quickly swept up in a re-read of the dystopian classic. Not only that, I listened to the majority of the audiobook in the space of my day at work. There’s something quite satisfying about accomplishing that at the same time as being in work.

ravenboysaudiobookMy go-to, prevailing example to explain my relationship with audiobooks is The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. There is just something about this story that lends itself to a slow-burning drawling audiobook that you can sink into, and the narrator Will Patton’s voice has that in spades. I adore Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle (I still haven’t read the final book because I can’t let go yet) and I’m more than sure that I will continue to re-read this series for many years to come. In an effort to not completely wreck my paperbacks, I purchased the series’ audiobooks via Audible and, in the midst of doing a series re-read late last year, I eagerly started to listen to Blue Lily, Lily Blue. That was the beginning of the end, my friends, I’m now hooked on these audiobooks. There’s just something about its narration style that is strangely comforting and familiar and makes re-reads feel so cosy.

By using audiobooks for re-reading past favourites I also feel like I’m not wasting time reading which might not sound entirely logical but stay with me on this one. If I re-read a book (as I am wont to do) I feel as though I’m not reading something new and therefore wasting time. After all, we only have a finite amount of time to read ALL THE THINGS and so many books so little time. My tendency to want to re-read and re-experience my favourite things (it’s a comfort thing, ultimately) clashes with my TBR ambitions. So re-reading via listening to the audiobook makes me feel less guilty, because the only time I listen to an audiobook is when I physically can’t read a book because I’m travelling or doing laundry. It’s all about maximising your free (otherwise dead) time and squeezing reading in with minimal guilt experienced about what you happen to be “reading”.

So that’s what I primarily use audiobooks for but what do you use audiobooks for? Do you use them to “re-read” books like I do? Or do you prefer to listen to only new books you’ve never read before? Please comment below, I’d love to hear your opinions on all things audiobooks.


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Review | Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

Welcome, friends. Last night I saw the latest of the Pirates of the Caribbean films – Salazar’s Revenge (terrible title tbh) aka Dead Men Tell No Tales (the much superior US (?) title). And I have some thoughts about it. This is less of a measured and academic “review” and more of a “Emma has a lot of feelings so let her word vomit them here including lots of CAPITAL LETTERS OF ENTHUSIASM and reaction gifs”… buckle in, folks, it may be a bumpy ride!

I went into the latest instalment in the running-out-of-steam Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with low hopes, such low hopes that I’m not even sure the word “hope” should be found within 10 feet of my expectations. I’d heard 2 and 1-star reviews across the board. So, suffice it to say, I expected a hot mess. What did I get? Well, not a hot mess, more a lukewarm mess, if anything. To me, Salazar’s Revenge made more sense and had more potential than the fourth film, On Stranger Tides, which means I didn’t find it nearly as disappointing as a lot of reviewers and critics did. “Potential” is, I think, the key word here, since not all that potential was fulfilled enough for my tastes, but more on that later. If you’re going into this expecting a ground-breaking sequel, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment from the off, but if all you want is a bit of light relief and nautical adventure? This fits the bill.

Let’s start with the premise…

“Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil’s Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea – notably Jack. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth, a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry, a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced.” (Summary from IMDB)

From this point in there will be blood spoilers so please, for the love of all that is good and holy, if you intend to see this film and do not want to be spoiled then DO NOT READ ON, GO AWAY AND LIVE YOUR LIFE IN BLISSFUL IGNORANCE, GO NOW.

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Discussion | Cataloguing Your Books

Just a (hopefully) short one from me today folks. I recently came across a couple of Booktube videos discussing the ways in which you can catalogue your own personal library or collection of books and the benefits of doing so, specifically Rachel at Kalanadi’s video on ‘Tracking Your Library’. I must admit – this is something I’ve tried (and failed) to do in the past. I used Libib for a while and dutifully scanned my books but then I proceeded to do absolutely nothing at all with that list – I still have the app on my phone and I’m sure I could do something with it if I wanted to but I’ve lost the motivation to do so using that interface.

Enter: Emma watches Rachel’s video and discovers LibraryThing exists.

Again, it’s ostensibly yet another app equipped with a barcode scanner so you can quickly catalogue your book collection in one place under one account name. However, even on first glance, it has much more in-depth features which mean you are definitely cataloguing your books as opposed to just recording them by scanning their ISBNs. This deeply appeals to the nerdy side of me that likes being able to manipulate a data set to filter books of a certain genre or books of a certain page count etc. etc. Plus there’s definitely some satisfaction to be found in getting into a groove scanning barcodes and hearing that pleasing beep as each thing scans successfully.

It’s safe to say that once I return to Liverpool (I’m currently back at my parents’ house for a few days) I will be pulling my books off the shelves in order to catalogue them. Yes, I’m a nerd like that. Also I would really like to have a handily accessible list of my books on my phone somewhere so that I can be 100% sure when I’m browsing a used book shop that that book I’m about to impulsively buy isn’t already in my collection. (Please tell me you’ve also done this?!)

Don’t worry, this post isn’t sponsored by Libib or LibraryThing – it just got me thinking about how (and indeed even if) you readers out there catalogue your book collection in any particular way. Do you have an app for it? Do you use Goodreads’ bookshelves function to its full potential? Do you like to make your own spreadsheet? Do you prefer the ol’ analogue approach of a pen to paper list? Please do let me know in the comments because I’m genuinely quite nerdily interested in hearing about this from my lovely fellow readers!


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Discussion | Blogging Stats and Validation

This might be a relatively brief ‘discussion’ which, actually, is pretty much summed up by the title of this post.

I’ve never been much of a numbers girl. I’m well and truly a right-brained, artsy, wishy washy, literature girl through and through – to the extent that I sometimes struggle now with remembering how to do long division (I wish I were kidding). And we all know numbers, whether those numbers stand for followers or number of posts or views or likes, they’re all nice enough in terms of analytics but, actually, become meaningless in the grand scheme of things. That follower count? Just a number, a mark on a screen, nothing more.

And, don’t get me wrong, whilst it’s nice to have the validation via those pesky numerals, it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of why most bloggers blog. I blog because having to sit down and put words together to express an opinion is actually something that has helped my own sense of self and my confidence enormously over the past few years.

I’ve always been someone who struggles with very deeply ingrained insecurities about whether anything I have to say is worthwhile saying… or worth anyone reading, for that matter. Hence why I sometimes seem to slip into radio silence on this blog. Chances are I’m still reading and thinking about books, but I’ve just had a moment of ‘oh woe is me, I don’t have anything new to say, let’s not bother’. That is a destructive and cyclical mindset and having this blog has actually really helped me try to break out of that vicious cycle.

So, “what is the point of this ‘discussion’?” I hear you ask. Well, I recently reached 200 followers. To me, that’s amazing. The fact that 200 people care about what I (occasionally) write? That’s astounding. I’m definitely not the biggest or most prolific blogger ever (ha, not by a long shot) but the fact that someone else cares (let alone 200 of you) is really quite something. And it does wonders for silencing that ol’ inner critic of mine who does so like to pipe up at every opportunity.

So, sincerely, thank you to each and every person who has ever read, commented, and/or liked anything I’ve written on this little blog of mine.
I appreciate your support more than you could ever know.


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Discussion | Book Genre Snobbery

I am guilty, my friends, of book genre snobbery. I like to think I’m an open minded reader, but there are still underlying prejudices that have been instilled into me through years of secondary, further, and higher education. Literature with a capital L is one thing, commercial fiction enjoyed by the masses is another. Or so the story goes.

Every time I realise I’m getting sucked into yet another young-adult fantasy there is a little bit of my brain that says ‘oh it’s quite good, considering it’s YA‘ which is an awful knee-jerk reaction to have, but it’s inbuilt at this point. Sometimes I feel like I have to justify or apologise for reading YA. Sometimes I don’t even own up to my recent reading including mostly YA fantasy. And it’s because of previous book genre snobbery that’s built up over time. I still feel the need to make a joke or a slight nod to the fact that I’m a 23-year old literature graduate who studied Early modern literature, spent months writing a dissertation about humoral theory, body criticism, and Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, and yet has also read and enjoyed, without irony, Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy and Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy. Continue reading

Discussion | Self-Identification Online

This week, in the midst of trying to put more care into my online outlets, I actually took a proper look at my online profiles and realised that perhaps it was time for an update. My Twitter profile, for example, still listed me as an English literature student – a fact I still can’t seem to let go despite the fact I graduated in December. So it’s safe to say that it required some changes, as difficult as that might be for me to admit. But, as soon as I clicked on that ‘Edit Profile’ button, I paused. I realised quite abruptly that I didn’t know how to define myself. Who was I? What did anyone online need to know about me? What did they really need to know my location, my nationality, my age, my Hogwarts house?

twitterdiscussion0104

This is something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve never been very good at, nor quite comfortable, writing ‘About Me’ pages – this blog’s ‘About‘ page is testament to that fact, as I lean more on other peoples’ quotes to reveal something intrinsic about myself. The less ‘public’ my profiles are, the more I am unapologetically myself, and less anxious about how I come across. (This is most apparent in my personal tumblr, the url of which I will never openly share but, trust me, at the moment it’s just a shameful amount of The Night Manager gifs.) Conversely, when asked to introduce myself or, worse still, provide a ‘fun fact’ about myself in icebreaker situations in new classes or group interviews, I blank entirely. In the past the ‘fun fact’ I’ve provided is that (touch wood) I’ve never broken a bone in my body. Yes the term ‘fun’ is debatable, but it is factual. From casual icebreakers to online profiles, I have always struggled with how to identify myself appropriately for the context. I notice this most acutely online, however, so it’s that which I’m going to concentrate on discussing for the purposes of this post. Continue reading