Book Talk: 3 ways to ingest stories for non-readers

Not a Reader? 3 Alternate Ways to Ingest a Good Story.

Posted December 18, 2020 by Amber in Bookish Things / 4 Comments

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I used to be one of those people who would gawk at others when they said they didn’t read.

Now, I understand that is a gross and even ableist reaction.  Not everyone is physically able to read, and expressing judgment or even disappointment that they do not or cannot share my hobbies is unkind and unfair.  I like to think I’ve grown as a person, and this is due largely to the community here, but also to my husband, who has never been a reader.

Paraphrasing his own words, he would say that he couldn’t read because after a few pages, everything would blur.  It wasn’t that the books were boring or that he didn’t want to read them… he just couldn’t focus on the words on the page.  These days, he finds his stories in other ways.  Today, I want to share those with you!  There are plenty of ways to hear stories for those who are not inclined to read, and even those of us experiencing book fatigue.

#1. Audiobooks

I am a huge fan of audiobooks myself and they help me fight book fatigue more than anything else.  There are still some out there who don’t consider audiobooks real “reading”, and I strongly disagree with that sentiment.  They’re just another way to absorb the stories that typically come to us in book form.

My husband does listen to audiobooks… and honestly, he and I listen to audiobooks for many of the same things.  Mostly, epic fantasy.  Audiobooks are a great way to chip away at those tomes you see in some genres.  I listened to The Way of Kings in a week, something that would have taken over a month to physically read.  Audiobooks are a great way of accessing titles that may be a challenge otherwise.

In early 2019 I took a survey in the community about audiobooks, and wrote up a whole post including participant comments and links to other blogs who had already discussed audiobooks.  If you’re thinking about trying audiobooks, I recommend it!

#2. Movies & TV shows

This is how many, many people get their storytelling.

Say what you want about book-to-film adaptations, but they’re a wonderful way of making these stories accessible to others.  Even books series that have been highly successful on their own – like The Hunger Games and The Lord of the Rings – have seen surges in popularity after their film adaptations have come out.

Additionally, film is one of the best ways to share these stories with others.  Reading can be a bit of a solitary activity, but watching a movie together is a whole different level of community.  One of the things I miss most during COVID is catching new movies every couple weeks, and that explosion of discussion right after the film, filled with theories and dissecting characters and ridiculous-things-that-wouldn’t-really-happen-in-real-life. The last movie was saw before lockdown was Onward (which we really liked) and I still conjure that excitement sometimes.  Right now, of course, you couldn’t drag me into a movie theatre.  Someday.

On the flip side, there are so many things on screen I watch and my heart aches because these aren’t also books.  Stranger Things is a really good example of that – we are sorely lacking in really good, non-romantically-driven paranormal YA that is actually spooky.  Another set of stories I would have loved in book form is the Cornetto trilogy.  With an irreverent but clever writer like Christopher Moore (Lamb) behind them, these could have been quirky and hilarious.

Not only is film an incredible alternative to physical books in terms of storytelling, but if you’re a reader who loves that aspect of your reading and you don’t watch movies or TV… you’re missing out.  And this coming from someone who cannot sit through a full movie ever.

#3. Video games

Finally, and hear me out here, video games.

Video games are an amazing resource for storytelling and if you’re a gamer you’re at home right now pumping your fist in the air and saying “YES THANK YOU.”

Video games are constantly underappreciated because they have spent decades being lauded as an immature activity and other such ridiculousness that many critics haven’t taken the time to really look at the medium and appreciate it.  I’m not saying that everyone needs to love video games or play them personally, but you have to look at them and see that they are more than FPS (first person shooter) gory nonsense.  Most of those games have storylines too (it’s just not my personal favorite style of game).

Games like The Last of Us and Horizon Zero Dawn pulled in gamers not just for their gameplay and gorgeous visuals, but because their stories are heart wrenching.  I have friends who’ve played The Last of Us multiple times to experience that story again and again.  Watch Dogs has a good storyline… heck, even Grand Theft Auto has one, though playing that game for the story is kinda like going to a steakhouse for their chicken salad (why would you).

Even the Super Mario games have some level of storyline – I like Super Mario Galaxy the best, but I also like Rosalina and her lunas.  And hey, sometimes books end up in video games, too!  Or at least, inspire them.  Two of my favorite games of all time – Dante’s Inferno and Alice: Madness Returns – may be a little outdated now, but they’re both excellent to play and both inspired by books.

Besides, you have to respect video games on some level because they are the only medium where you are, on some level, living the story.  How cool is that?!

At the end of the day… there are lots of ways we can find stories to love and share.  Readers tend to love their books – and I am no exception to that rule – but if you have friends or family members who are unable to share in your passion, maybe it’s time we start asking about theirs!  We’re bound the find a common storytelling ground where we can share experiences and our love for these tales without binding one or another to a particular medium

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What alternative storytelling style do you like best?  I’m torn between audiobooks and video games personally – I love movies and TV shows, but they often leave me unsatisfied.  What about you?  Let me know in the comments what’s your fave!

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4 responses to “Not a Reader? 3 Alternate Ways to Ingest a Good Story.

  1. Monica Laurette

    I think you’re right on the mark by saying that video games are also a form of reading/story telling. You are playing a game, and you have a goal and challenges, you are *living* that story to get to the ending. Also, if you like horror and gore a game you might like is Until Dawn. My sister played it and she really liked it, I’ve only ever seen someone on YouTube do a playthrough of it because I’m definitely too scared to play it myself. I’m a Minecraft kind of girl.

    And to people who say that audiobooks aren’t actually reading: stop being ableist and elitist. Sit down and realize that it’s just another way to get a story into someone’s heart and mind.

    Great post!

    • Amber

      Oh gosh no, noooo horror for me. I’m big on like… the Lego games? Pokemon and Animal Crossing? I’m not brave enough for the horror ones, oh my word. XD I think a lot of perception of what is acceptable for “reading” is elitist, unfortunately. I love the book community SO MUCH because it reminds me that I’m not the odd one out for loving fiction and stories and worlds. Sometimes I talk to people IRL and the look at me sideways when I get going and I have to be like “right, oh yeah, we’re still working on normalizing some of these things”. One of my coworkers in big into audiobooks and we had a great conversation the other day, which was cool and something I wouldn’t’ve expected a year ago!