All I Learned About Audiobooks: A Guide

audiobooks a guide

In January 2018  I started listening to audiobooks. If someone had told me before that that I’d not only end up liking them, but that I would rely on them as much as I’ve done this past year, I wouldn’t have believed them.

One year later, I’ve read a total of about 40 audiobooks and I’ve collected a few general thoughts on them that I thought I’d share so everyone who’s still uncertain can decide whether this format might work for them too. Also let me point out that these are just some of the things I noticed that work for me, we’re all different and what works for me might not work for everybody.

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Why audiobooks?

  • You’re a slow reader: finish a book faster by finding a playing speed that works for you (and even work your way towards higher speeds).
  • You’re in a reading slump: try switching the format by listening to an audiobook, it might just be the thing to take you out of your slump.
  • You need glasses to read but you’re doing a face mask and you can’t wear your glasses: oddly specific AND YET I bet y’all have in been in this situation.

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  • You have a long commute: whether by car or by train/bus/tram, you can get a lot of reading done that way.
  • You’re “too tired to read”: sometimes that just means you have to rest your eyes and use your ears instead.

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  • You have problems focusing/ADD/ADHD: audiobooks seem scary for those of us who have problems concentrating (I don’t have a diagnosis yet but I’m probably ADHD myself), but once you find a way to keep yourself focused (I’ll talk about this in the next category), listening to audiobooks actually helps you not get distracted as much as you do while reading on a page.

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  • You need motivation to do chores: this works best if you stick to listening to audiobooks almost exclusively while you do chores instead of listening to them in your free time. You have no idea how much I hate washing the dishes, but sometimes while I’m in the middle of a good audiobook I find myself looking forward to it because I know I’ll be listening to it while doing it (pro tip: use headphones if you’re doing “loud” chores, with running water etc.)

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  • Sometimes the performance adds to enjoyment of the book: a good narrator can make a book a thousand times better. They can give a totally different vibe to a book and even make your rating go up one or two stars compared to your rating if you’d only read it.
  • If you’re not in love with a particular genre but you still want to read a specific book: okay hear me out, I tend to postpone reading books I know are going to be on the more action-y side or have elements that I personally don’t care much about. But if I know from other reviews that they also have great characters, great relationships, etc, I found that listening to them doesn’t make me dread the parts that I normally wouldn’t be too enthusiastic about. Example: The Disasters.

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How to read audiobooks?

  • Fast or slow: this totally depends on factors only you know, like your knowledge of the language you’re listening to, and how used you are to listening to books on faster speeds. All listening speeds are valid and it doesn’t matter if you listen on 0.75x or 2.5x speed as long as you’re enjoying it. Pro tip: you don’t have to listen to the whole book at the same speed! You can slow down on dialogues or parts you feel are more important and speed up in action scenes or descriptions.

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  • While playing a casual puzzle game: this is what I mostly use when I want to focus and I’m not doing a repetitive chore. I have trouble focusing unless I’m doing something with my hands that doesn’t require a lot of effort. I like playing some sort of Tetris game on my phone, sometimes I switch it up by playing different things like Dots or Bejeweled, but you could play Candy Crush or Bubbles…there’s a lot of choice out there.
  • With a coloring book: this serves the same purpose of the previous point. I haven’t done this since this summer but sometimes I’m just tired of phone games (or my phone/iPad needs charging lol). There’s lots of coloring books whether it’s for adults or for kids (I don’t judge) so just find something you like. I personally prefer sticking to abstract figures but you do you boo. I know my friends who are artists like to draw while listening so that might be something worth thinking about if you’re good at that.

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    • With headphones: this is obvious on train/bus/etc but I find it helps at home too, especially while doing chores with running water or if you have to go from one room to another. Bluetooth headphones work best for this so you’re free to move around (AirPods users now it’s your time to shine, if you can actually find them).

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Which types of books work best?

  • Action-packed: a good narrator will make the scene come alive and if you’re like me and like action scenes but can’t for the life of you picture what’s going on when you read on a page, audiobooks are a great help. Example: all the Rick Riordan books, Kingdom of Ash, Six of Crows.

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  • “Slow” books with lots of character development: sometimes it’s easy to get impatient with a slow book although we’re enjoying it. Audiobooks make the slower parts go by faster (just adjust the speed) and they give more depth to the internal monologues. Example: Nine Perfect Strangers.
  • Rereads: this is one of my favorite use of audiobooks. Rereading feels like I’m wasting my time sometimes (which is NOT true!!! but I feel like my TBR is judging me), but if I listen to it I know that I’m much faster and I don’t feel as guilty. It’s also incredibly enjoyable to go back to a world you loved and experience it in a different format.
  • Extremely long books: this ties back to the fact that you’re most likely reading faster if you’re on audio. It’s scary to look at how many hours the book will last, but if you’re on 2x speed the book will be half the length. Example: Kingdom of Ash.

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  • Honestly? Any book. I haven’t read all kinds of them and a lot will depend on the narrator or the subject of the book, but I see no reason to exclude any category or genre, you just have to find what works for you.

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Cons of audiobooks?

  • Can’t see words/names on page: this is especially frustrating when you’re reading fantasy or reading in a second language and hearing a lot of new names of people or places. It makes it awkward to write a review or chat about it with online friends, because sometimes you just don’t know how to spell things.
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idk I just really wanted to add a Runaan gif. isn’t he beautiful?
  • Beautiful prose gets lost, can’t highlight without a visual version: sure, you can bookmark the spot you’re on if you’re on Audible, but unless you also own an ebook or printed version it’ll be awkward to write down a quote whether it’s for your future reference for a review or just because you enjoyed that particular sentence.
  • They’re expensive: there’s little going around this, audiobooks are expensive. If you’re lucky you have a library near you that lets you borrow them and use apps like Libby, but that’s not the case for most of us internationals. I like my audible subscription because I feel that it lets me make the most out of my money, but it’s still very expensive and I know it’s not for everyone.
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with a little bit of poetic licence I’m using cabbages as a metaphor for money
  • No time to process emotional scenes: especially if you’re going fast, it might be hard to remember to pause while you’re in the middle of something Big going on in the book because you want to know what comes next. This can make it so that some of the dramatic moments get lost among the sea of information being thrown at you at 2x speed. I personally like to take a moment to cry or at least process that something dramatic has happened while I’m reading, but it can be hard to do with audios.

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  • You might not like narrator: a narrator can make or break a book. I haven’t found many bad narrators and the few I did find haven’t made it impossible to enjoy the book, but that’s because they were rereads of books I already knew and loved. Definitely always try to check out a sample of the book (Audible has 5-minutes samples for every book) and sort reviews in a way that shows you the ratings of the performance. If you feel like a particular narrator might turn you off an otherwise good book, maybe it might be worth giving the paper or digital version a try instead.

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Where to start?

  • Rereads: these are probably the easiest books to get into if you’re still uncertain whether audiobooks are for you or not. Think about that one book you’ve been postponing rereading for ages and just try it out! I would, however, suggest avoiding your favorite books, the ones you’ve reread 1000 times, where every line of dialogue already has a specific tone and feel to it, because it will inevitably be different when the narrator reads it.
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look at him being smarter than you and me
  • Tales: I don’t know how to categorize this but my first audiobook ever was Norse Mythology and it made me feel like when my mom read to me before bed when I was little. It just felt like something meant to be read out loud and it made me fall in love with audiobooks in general. It doesn’t have to be this book in particular but try to find something that gives you the feel of fairy tales or mythology and that you’re interested in and that you might think it’s meant to read out loud by a fire or something like that.

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A few quick recs of personal favorite audiobooks with great performances:

✨ Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant ✨

✨ Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty ✨

✨ Far from the Tree by Robin Benway ✨

✨ Sadie by Courtney Summers ✨

✨ The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas ✨

✨ Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman ✨

✨ The Disasters by M.K. England ✨

✨ The whole PJO series by Rick Riordan ✨

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So that’s it for this guide! I hope you enjoyed it and if it was useful to you please leave me a comment because I love feeling like I helped!

I’m also just casually dropping my Ko-Fi here and pretending to slowly walk away in a way that lets you know I don’t really care if you click on the button or not but it would also made my day.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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29 thoughts on “All I Learned About Audiobooks: A Guide

  1. Fantastic post!! This was honestly very helpful. I recently started to listen to audiobooks (like last month) and I definitely see the appeal of them now. ☺️ And HAHA that’s so funny, I’ve been in that face mask situation before; I guess that experience really is universal. :’)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. …we both posted about audiobooks today! I think I just don’t like the format – it ends up giving me anxiety the way movies do – but it’s always interesting to see what works for other people.

    The main reason I didn’t try audiobooks for so many years is the cost. Maybe the reason I don’t like them would get less… intense if I listened to a lot of them, but they’re not affordable if you don’t have a library/don’t want a subscription. I was surprised when I discovered that, because no one ever mentions it?

    And I agree, the Sadie audiobook was so good. I think you almost lose something about it if you read instead of listening.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True ahah I just read your post! Yeah, a lot of people talk about borrowing them from the library but that’s not something we can do easily here in Europe. For me, i know I can listen to 3-4 audiobooks a month, so an audible subscription makes sense because other then credits I also get nice deals etc. And about anxiety, I actually use audiobooks for anxiety because by listening to them I have something to focus on and I can’t worry about what’s making me anxious. Funny how that works in completely opposite ways for us!
      I feel the same about Sadie and about other books I mentioned in the post. There’s just that added something that isn’t there if you just read it, and those are the best audiobooks.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. FINALLY THIS IS OUT!!!! First off, I love the gifs you’ve used. And you’re right, Runaan is so pretty he needs to be in every post.
    Second, this is so freaking helpful! I barely know anything about audiobooks — I’ve only listened to a couple — and I didn’t know there were so many tricks? My problem with audiobooks in the past is I never like the narrator. On the Jellicoe Road is my favourite book ever but I hated the audiobook! The narrator’s voice was not good, but also I tried listening to this in like 2010? So obviously audiobooks have gotten better since then haha. I have the audiobook of Leo Loves Aries and the first book in the Tales From Verania series, so I’ll start with them! But I definitely want to try Norse Mythology. I want to read Neil Gaiman’s books so badly but I’m so intimidated by them too — so an audiobook would be easier!

    “You need glasses to read but you’re doing a face mask and you can’t wear your glasses” — wow call me out lmao. I wear a face mask almost every night before bed and have the book about an inch away from my face so I can read it 😂

    This is such a great post Siliva!! I love it and now I want to listen to an audiobook 😘💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lmao I’ll never post anything that doesn’t have at least one Runaan gif in it because the world needs to know what a treasure he is.

      You really have to let me know when you try an audiobook, and yes try Norse Mythology! Also Neil Gaiman’s voice is SECSI as hell.

      Omg you’re so good at doing face masks regularly, I always buy 357474 and never end up doing them because I’m too lazy! I gotta start following my own advice and do them while I listen to a book.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is perfect! I agree with your pros and cons so much. I love audiobooks but the narrator can have SUCH a big impact on me enjoying it or not. And books that are super dialogue heavy can be hard for me too because I feel I miss a lot of the dialogue. I’ve been meaning to read NPS so maybe I’ll try it on audiobook!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Silvia! I started reading audiobooks last year and they are amazing. I listen to Fantasy because it’s a genre I love but find hard to get into and it’s a little easier for me when it’s an audiobook 😀 I have to look up character names and places when I’m writing reviews because I have no idea how anything is spelt though

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    • Thank you so much, Sakhile! ♥
      I’ve been doing the same lately, I miss reading fantasy but for some reason I tried to stick to contemporary with my audiobooks, but lately I’ve been getting used to reading fantasy with audiobooks and while it’s frustrating not to know how everything is spelled it’s also easier to concentrate. And that way I get to finally enjoy fantasy again!

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  6. I really want to try audiobooks again (we had a brief affair for maybe a year, if that) but I’m someone who annotates my books and love keeping a record of all my fave quotes in books so I’ve always wondered how I might do that with audiobooks. I didn’t know you could bookmark which is really helpful but I wish there was more to help me keep track of my fave quotes!

    This is a great post and is just another push for me to just try audiobooks again! ahah. (But the price for audible always stops me)

    Like

  7. Love this post so much!!!

    I’ll have to agree with not having time to process emotional scenes, especially since I usually read at x2 to 2.5 speed. And there are a few services that offer affordable access to audiobooks, you might want to check them out, Scrib and Storytel are the ones i personally know of.

    Audiobooks are the way i read books i’m not super excited about or those that i wouldn’t normally pick up. But sometimes i also pick up books i’m excited about. The only reread i’ve done via audiobooks is Evelyn Hugo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!!!

      Same, I’ve found that with audiobooks I tend to pick up books with genres that usually scare me and I manage to read a lot of my most anticipated releases that way as soon as they come out.

      Like

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