Next to my aqua-painted vintage desk is a cat, snoozing away, sleeping through the thunder as the sky grumbles outside. Near where he's sleeping is a library bag, filled to the brim with books. Overflowing. Some have spilled to the floor. From where I'm sitting - legs twisted in a pretzel-like way I know my knees will complain about later - I can see a Lucky Day copy of Gideon the Ninth taunting me from its perch on my windowsill. So many people have raved about this book, and all I've had lately is time. I should have finished it by now, right? No. The book remains unread. Untouched. Taunting.
During this transitional period, in which the world has collectively stilled and our lives adapt to this new "normal", I've become accustomed to embracing the unexpected. I've found myself doing things I told myself I would never do. For instance, I am now the type of person who watches TikToks. Suddenly, I am a fan of Taylor Swift, playing her albums over and over again. My goodness, she can pen a bop! Previously, I was of the opinion that it was messy and maybe even a little "tacky" to decorate personal belongings with stickers, having long since abandoned that inclination in grade school. Now my laptop is covered in a variety of colorful images that bring me infinite joy, one being a stylized cartoon of Harry Styles holding a chicken. Even more stickers are in the mail, waiting to be delivered.
What's the most unexpected about this most unexpected of times is that I haven't been able to read books. New releases by beloved authors haven't been able to keep my attention. Revisiting old favorites haven't persuaded me to engage with stories I know for a fact I will love, because I've read them and enjoyed them in the past. For as much time as I've spent sitting and pacing back and forth in my apartment these past few weeks, it's difficult to focus on a single page. I've got nothing but time, right? So why not read?
Recently, instead of reading or watching whatever tiger-related Neftlix show is currently trending online, I've become attached to playing video games. Let's not talk about how many hours I've invested in Breath of the Wild - the monster cake I recently baked was exquisite - and yes, before you ask, of course I bought the new Animal Crossing. Though the past few days, my obsession has been Stardew Valley, where my virtual farm is thriving, a majestic sight to behold. In real life, I'm the one in my household personally responsible for accidentally killing at least three innocent succulents. I plead guilty to plantslaughter.
When it came time to sit down and actually read for one of my LPL book clubs, I revisited audiobooks as a format and I forgot what a pleasure it can be to listen to books when your brain isn't quite capable of doing only one thing at a time, when you've begun to rely on constant multi-tasking to keep yourself entertained. Farming turnips and fighting aggressive soot monsters in the local mines while listening to my book club pick reminded me of when the highly anticipated Wayward Son was first released, and all I did was listen to that book on repeat while digging in the pixelated dirt. Oh right, this is also an option! How could I have forgotten?!
If you're like me, and you've found it a struggle to read, I suggest you give audiobooks a try, even if you're convinced you're not the type to enjoy an audiobook. Maybe you'll find yourself embracing the unexpected, too, and learn to love listening to books after all. Feel free to browse the selections below, but I've also made a handy-dandy list with over a dozen choices to pick and choose from.
Now, get to listening!
Beautiful and contemplative:
Adventurous and fun:
Interesting and imaginative:
Joy-filled and quirky:
Philosophical and immersive:
-Kimberly Lopez is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.