Tag Archives: BookPeople

Queries and Conundrums: AudioBooks

books on tape

Every personality or learning quiz I have ever taken always indicates that I am a visual learner.  I have to look at things to process them, so it is no wonder that I love to read.  Over the summers however, I have found that I thoroughly enjoy books-on-tape.  I am sure that I am dating myself by calling them “books-on-tape;” I supposed audiobooks is the proper time but it hearkens back to when my children were young.  When my kids were little, I remember checking out books-on-tape at the library for them to “read along with.”  They enjoyed being able to follow the stories themselves and I found that it also helped them learn to read.  I myself had never really enjoyed books-on-tape.  I think that it is because I rarely have the time to sit down and focus on the story; if I am going to enjoy a book, I want to read it.

For the past eight years, my children have attended BookPeople’s Literary Camps; a later post on that awesome experience.  Anyway, I have about seven hours of “me” time in Austin.  For the first five years, both my husband and I came down and we enjoyed sight-seeing, eating, kayaking, eating, hiking, eating . . . you get the picture.  Once our oldest moved out of the age range of the camp, we had to divide and conquer; I brought the girls down to camp and my husband stayed home with our son.  The past two years, only our youngest has been eligible to attend.

I love Zilker Park and enjoy running . . . well, mostly walking with some short bursts of energy . . . along the river.  I figured it would be a great opportunity to try out a book-on-tape; I had two plus hours of walking time each day to just listen to a story.

I found that I didn’t like it, I loved it!!!  Every year I have chosen a different book to dedicate the trip to and each time it has been a book that I have previously read.  This past summer, I listened to Anna Lee Huber’s A Grave Matter, the third Lady Darby mystery.

I found that listening to the story provides a refreshing perspective.  It is fascinating how the descriptive details of a setting or ball gown become more visual by having them read aloud.  I also love how the action comes alive, be it a fight scene or love scene, through the oral interpretation.  I appreciate the talent of the narrator to create dimension to the story through the inflection of the words and the voices they choose for the different characters.  Having a bit of a background in theatre makes me both appreciate and admire their talent.

I know that I have always loved to read aloud to my own children and make the stories come alive that way, but I hadn’t really known how much I would enjoy the same being done to me.  I have not attempted a book that I haven’t read yet, but that will be next on my list.

How about you? Any commuters or hikers that listen to books-on-tape?



I’ve spent every afternoon this past week wandering, reading, and writing in the wonderful BookPeople Independent Bookstore in Austin, Texas.  I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of bookstores and I know what I like, and don’t like, in a bookstore.  Here are four things that I love about independent bookstores.


Lots of books but specific specialties
A bookstore needs to have books, obviously, but too often the larger chain books stores have a huge variety of different genres but little depth within the genre.  BookPeople has an amazing children’s section; Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois, highlights new fiction; and Murder by the Book in Houston . . . well, that is self-explanatory.  What I love is that these bookstores realize that they can’t be everything to everyone so they embrace one or a few genres and really provide great depth and understanding to that genre.

I have also found the even if a certain genre isn’t their genre, independent bookstores can provide books that a bit off the beaten path.  I find the mystery section at BookPeople to focus less on cozy and mainstream mysteries, but instead I have found more international authors or less known series.  It was at BookPeople that I discovered Mark Pryor, Brad Parks, and M. L. Longworth.

Employees are true book lovers
I think there is a box on the application for independent bookstores that states employees MUST love books.  I find that employees that I have spoken with are well-read and happy to share advice or suggestions, but they also understand that sometimes customers just want to peruse.  Some employees of the larger chain bookstores are knowledgeable, but I often find that they aren’t as passionate about what they selling as I am about what I am reading.

I love to talk to a bookseller and state a few of my favorite authors.  A good bookseller can understand the interests of a reader based on favorites and provide ideas for new authors.

Not extraneous “junk”
Independent bookstores sell books . . . not covers for Nooks, not Harry Potter Legos, not action figures or educational games . . . books.  Precious floorspace is filled with books.  Now, you will find the occasional writing journal, books themed t-shirts, and quirky tchotchkes that compliment a book purchase or book gift, but the real reason anyone enters the door is to look at books!

Welcoming places to read, enjoy, and get lost in the books
Chairs and couches stuck in odd corners, quiet nooks to settle in, stools to ascend tall shelves or sit on as you investigate the lower shelves.  The environment has soothing classic music playing and the atmosphere is one of relaxation and enjoyment.  Not as quiet as a library, but still soothing and inviting.

Independent bookstores also seem to have the best cafes!  Tasty treats and delectable drinks to enjoy while reading.  Books, chocolate, and tea . . .  ah, perfection!

How about you?  What are your favorite independent bookstores?