Audiobooks and Beading: A Beautiful Marriage of Hobbies

The Beadwork team recently had the chance to each listen to an audiobook from Penguin Random House Audio while doing our favorite hobby (beading, of course!). We each chose an audiobook in a genre we would enjoy: a psychological thriller for our managing editor, Lavon; a personal memoir for our assistant editor, Marissa; and historical fiction for our technical editor, Meredith. Read on to learn about our experiences listening to audiobooks while beading.

Multi-Tasking: One of the Greatest Benefits of Audiobooks

I love to read, but my busy life has left little time for such an indulgent hobby lately. I often find myself multi-tasking, whether it’s cooking dinner while checking my email in the evening or folding laundry while helping with homework. One thing I definitely haven’t had the time to do is just sit and read. But I’ve discovered that audiobooks can give me back that guilty pleasure — without sacrificing other activities.

I’ve been making a bracelet and earring set for my mom, and I need to finish the earrings soon to get them into the mail. I’m also beading a fairly large cubic right-angle weave project that requires quite a bit of time but not a lot of true concentration. These bead weaving projects gave me the perfect opportunity to listen to an audiobook while working on them.

I’m listening to Close to Me, by Amanda Reynolds. This book tells the story of Jo Harding, who falls down a flight of stairs in her home and wakes to find that she’s lost her memory of the past year. Her once close relationship with her husband seems strangely strained, and her grown children have changed so much in 12 months’ time that she hardly knows them.

The story timeline jumps back and forth between immediately after Jo’s fall and shortly after her son left for college almost a year ago. The present is told a day at a time, and the past a month at a time — which sets a pace that feels like two trains gaining speed, bound for a certain collision. As the author reveals clues about what has happened over the past year of Jo’s life, I feel my sense of dread growing. I’m certain that some dark secrets are bubbling just beneath the surface.

Meanwhile, I’m making great progress on my beading projects. And I don’t feel guilty about the time I’m spending on either of my hobbies. Audiobooks have opened a whole new world for me: one in which I can accomplish twice as much!

—Lavon Peters, Beadwork managing editor

Personal Memoir: The Next Best Thing to Conversing with a Friend

I first discovered the joy of audiobooks while taking a college course on 19th century novels. We were reading 300 pages per class period — and while I love reading, Middlemarch and Bleak House were just too long for me to get anything else done. Needless to say, listening to audiobooks became a necessity. I would listen while I did the dishes or worked out at the gym. My world started to open up to more and more possibilities of what I could accomplish while also listening to a book.

So, when I started beading, my first thought was to also listen to audiobooks. I often choose nonfiction books and I love that many of the audiobooks are read by the authors themselves. Picking up an enjoyable story is like listening to a good friend tell a funny story, or learning a new fact or anecdote.

When I listened to Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan, I was moved by her life stories. I heard not only hilarious tales of woe about teenage daughters but also anecdotes that I could easily relate to — ones that made me feel like I could contribute to the conversation. One minute I was beading away and laughing out loud and the next I was almost crying. (All right, I was crying.)

If you are new to audiobooks, I would absolutely recommend Tell Me More, because it is light on plot but big on emotion. It’s also the perfect length: just long enough to loom a bracelet, but not so long that you can’t start a new audiobook with the next project. Once you’ve listened to one audiobook, it becomes a beautiful habit.

—Marissa Bouska, Beadwork assistant editor

Audiobook Transference: Becoming Truly Immersed in the Story

Not being able to sit still for very long runs in my family. I’ve been listening to audiobooks and podcasts while crafting for years! I find that keeping my brain entertained while working on something repetitive keeps me on task for longer.

But something even more interesting happens when I bead while listening to audiobooks. My mind links the project I’m working on with the images and feelings I get from the book. The piece of jewelry becomes imbued with those pictures and emotions. So, it was serendipitous that the project I was working on while listening to The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin was some classic, knotted pearl strands.

In the story, set in the 1910s and 1920s, our two protagonists Frances Marion and Mary Pickford (“America’s Sweetheart”) are creative, ambitious, modern women trying to make their way in Hollywood. In a world made of façades, the ultimate challenge for these industry women is to find genuine friendship and true love. We navigate Frances and Mary’s highest highs and lowest lows together: from meager meals scraped together on a hotplate in a shared one-room apartment to star-studded dinner parties with Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish. Will the experiences and success they share serve to bond them together or tear them apart? After all, this wouldn’t be Hollywood without a little drama!

Now, the knotted pearl strands I’ve been working on carry with them the glittering, exciting images of Hollywood at the dawn of its era. When I hold them, I feel the camaraderie and the rivalry. Even years from now, my memory will still recall dressing rooms full of actresses caking on makeup before heading onto the set to melt under the hot lights, the sound of the cameras rattling away. These pearls possess the magic of Hollywood!

—Meredith Steele, Beadwork technical editor

For your next project, try listening to audiobooks while you bead. Visit the Penguin Random House Audio site for a FREE audiobook download and try it for yourself.

Happy listening and beading from the Beadwork team!

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