I’ve been particularly thrilled this year to start offering audiobooks of my novels. Audible and Amazon are offering audio versions of The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth, Pride and Proposals, and Mr. Darcy to the Rescue. Audio versions of Christmas at Darcy House and President Darcy are in the works. Eventually I plan to have audiobook versions of all my novels.
One reason that I’m particularly excited about audiobooks is that they play a particularly important role in my life. Of course, they are handy to have in the car. My husband listens to books in his commute, and I often listen as I’m driving my children around town. As a family, we have listened to a number of audiobooks together on long car trips.
But I never realized how the real importance of audiobooks until I had a daughter who had difficulty learning to read.
She was in first grade and was supposed to do 20 minutes of reading a day. I had to split up these 20 minutes into 3-4 chunks because reading was such a chore to her. As someone who has found books to be an important part of my life and endless source of joy, I was alarmed. Eventually we traced her difficulties to a vision problem known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI) in which the eyes do not function well together. The doctor who examined her found that she couldn’t focus her eyes more than nine seconds without great effort. Can you imagine trying to learn to read under those conditions?
We started her on vision therapy—with tremendous results. But the process took three years. In the meantime, I worried that she would lose interest in reading. How could she not when it was such a struggle? I read books aloud to her, which was very rewarding. (I read the entire Harry Potter series to her and then did it all over again when my son wanted to read it.) But she often wanted to read when I wasn’t available.
Thank God for audiobooks. They allowed her to be an independent reader—choosing what to read and when to read it without depending on another person. We were fortunate that our public library had many books on CD (eventually they started getting e-audiobooks and she now has a well-used Audible account).
I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have audiobook technology available. If I had experience CI as a child, I would have been out of luck. But with the help of audiobooks, she still read eagerly—and learned to enjoy reading—even when it was difficult and painful to put her eyes to paper. When she graduated from vision therapy, she was able to read print books on her own—and she wanted to. With the help of audiobooks she had become an avid reader.
Her problems aren’t gone and probably never will be. Her eyes tire easily, which is a great challenge in school. She still “reads” audiobooks for pleasure because she needs to save her “eye time” for school-related tasks. Fortunately a lot of textbooks and works of literature (for English class) are available on audio; audiobooks are one of the major factors behind her success in school. She’s a freshman in college this fall and will do most of her textbook reading with audio technology.
Now that I have some of my novels on audio, it will make it easier for my daughter to read my writing. I’m not holding my breath, though. Although she liked Pride and Prejudice, she has a long list of books in her preferred genres that she would rather read. I don’t mind at all; I’m just glad she’s reading.
(One in 20 people suffers from Convergence Insufficiency, but most don’t know it. It leads to chronic eye fatigue and pain, difficulty doing close work, blurred vision, and many other symptoms. For more information on CI, visit CIHelp.org.)