Although I would never give up old-fashioned reading, and the feel of a book in my hands is a great comfort to me, there is definitely a place for audiobooks.
I just downloaded my first digital audiobook from Audible.com, after I heard a review on NPR of The Help. As the reviewer noted, some books have a lot of regional dialect or accents in them, and a talented cast of readers can make all the difference. This is very true of The Help, which was written in the voices of several women, both black and white, in the south in the sixties. The voice talents on the audio recording added a great deal to my enjoyment of the story.
And by putting The Help on my iPod, I had something to listen to in the kitchen as I cooked dinner, or on my headphones as I worked out at the gym. I also found that ironing my husbands shirts seemed more fun if I was listening to this story, which features so many domestic details of everyday life.
Audiobooks have been a staple in the car, but now we are branching into audio language learning, with Pimsleur's Basic Hungarian giving us a language lesson everyday as we drive to and from Carbon's school. Carbon and I are taking a trip to Transylvania in July, so this is a great way for us to get ready.
Carbon and Hypatia each enjoy audiobooks at night as they fall asleep, and they pick their own books from our local library. A friend recently gave Carbon a used Zune, and my husband has loaded it up with books that Carbon enjoys listening to over and over again. This was great for the airplane rides on our recent vacation.
None of this replaces reading silently or aloud as a family. All that audiobooks do for us is to open up time when we can't read and let us fill that time with more literature or learning.