WHAT I LEARNED: My next “CAL Chat” podcast guest mentioned that “How-Al-Anon Works” (item # B-32) was her favorite piece to use for outreach purposes that she wanted to discuss on the new upcoming Episode #13. To prepare, I was going to re-read it but then I thought, “How could I do it differently this time?” So I finally decided to get the audiobook version! Below is what I learned about the audiobook… & ultimately myself.
1. This was the first audiobook released by Al-Anon’s World Service Office on September 13th, 2013. It’s about 16 hours & 19 minutes long. Depending on the provider you get it from, as of 2021, the cost varies from $21.99 to $24.95 in the United States. (You might also be able to get it free for signing up for a trial version of a subscription service but I’m not sure if Al-Anon gets any money if it is “purchased” that way.) Click here for a list of providers. The book is read by a handful of anonymous members that seemed to have done the recordings via the telephone – with the exception of the main professional narrator.
2. Originally I thought I could rush through this book like I do other audiobooks – knock out listening one hour per day while driving in my car, but that wasn’t the case. I had to take time to digest stories that really affected me & make space for old forgotten memories before I could start listening again.
3. Sometimes I was late to work because I would arrive on time, but if I stopped the audiobook, it would be like leaving on a cliffhanger & I just had to find out what happened next! I found myself having to leave earlier & earlier to allow time for me to sit in the parking lot to finish a section or personal story.
4. I discovered that listening to an Al-Anon book in my car made me a more compassionate driver! I was less angry at other drivers & because I was leaving my home earlier & earlier, I was in less of a rush to begin with. This definitely added to my serenity on the road – which is worth the price of the audiobook for that fact alone!!
5. I’ve always been a person that learns better from listening rather than reading. I found out that when I had read this book in the past, I was quick to dismiss, or minimize, certain personal stories saying to myself, “Oh, that would never happen to me…” In fact, when I read anything, I have a tendency to want to analyze, justify, & intellectualize it. However, I couldn’t do that with this audiobook. Because it was in different voices, I was able to hear it differently. My brain may have been more involved with the reading, but my heart was more involved with the listening. It was as if I was in an Al-Anon meeting & I was hearing members share… to the point that I almost wanted to say back to the audiobook: “Thank you for sharing” at the end of some passages! This format humanized the book for me & brought out my empathy in a way the regular print version couldn’t do… because I had not allowed it to. …Just more stuff for me to examine & work through in my life!
6. I loved hearing all the different accents! It reminded me that Al-Anon & Alateen is definitely a worldwide fellowship. My favorite personal story (which for some reason I always thought was written by a man), in the audiobook version, it was read by a woman – with an accent! It was a shock, but a wonderful one, because I hadn’t realized that I had assigned a gender to it until I heard it this other way & I thought: “Oh, right, it could be that way too!” …Where else have I unconsciously (or consciously) assigned gender to our literature & why do I do that?? Again, add that to my list of things for me to work on… 😜
7. Lastly, the experience I had with this audiobook reminded me of when I love a favorite song & then someone puts out a cover version. Initially I cautiously think, “It won’t be as good as the original…” but then I hear it & it’s amazing & I love it even more! I realize it’s because fundamentally, the original content is so good that it will continue to be great regardless of who remakes it. Now I find myself looking forward to the 360° virtual reality…, augmented reality…, holographic…, chip-implanted in my brain… or whatever version of this book comes next!
**BONUS CAL QUESTION: What other book is currently in development by the World Service Office to be released as an audiobook? (Hint: see item # B-29!)