Discussion: Why You Should Give Audiobooks Another Chance Even If You Think You Dislike Them
I used to think that audiobooks were just not for me. I had tried them several times over the years but each time came away disappointed. My number one complaint was that I constantly found myself losing track of what I was listening to and having to backtrack to figure out the last thing I remembered listening to.
This year, however, I made it my mission to give audiobooks another try, especially since as a blogger, I’m reading so many more books than I used to and would love to be able to enjoy the potential for multitasking that audiobooks provide.
Guess what I learned? I LOVE THEM!
So, why the change of heart? What did I do differently this time that I had never tried before?
Well, what I realized was that it wasn’t an audiobook problem, it was a ME problem. See, I had been trying to listen to them while I was at work, to help pass the time. The problem? Every time I was trying to concentrate on a job-related task, I would almost unconsciously stop listening to the book. And since my job primarily involves proofreading, I was ALWAYS concentrating on job related tasks. It was just dumb of me to even think that listening to audiobooks in that environment was a good idea.
So, how did I discover that audiobooks are actually fabulous if you’re audiobooking (Is that a word? It is now!) the correct way?
- I realized that while they may not work all that well while doing job-related tasks, audiobooks make mindless household chores like folding and putting away laundry so much more tolerable. They are actually a Godsend in this particular area. I still hate doing chores, mind you, but getting lost in fiction while doing them helps so much.
- I learned that audiobooks are a fabulous way to pass the time while exercising. Maybe not with strenuous exercise, I’m not sure, but I’m a walker and for me, the worst part about walking is that it can be lonely and boring, especially since I have to walk for so long to burn a significant number of calories. Listening to an audiobook while I’m racking up the miles really helps to make that time so much more enjoyable.
- I also discovered audiobooks can make a long commute to work or school go by so much quicker. I had never tried this before because my usual commute is less than 15 minutes. This year, however, I have had to make several trips to some of my company’s other offices and those commutes have been well over an hour in each direction. I ran the audiobook through the Bluetooth in the car and it made the long drive so much more enjoyable.
- I always tend to have trouble falling asleep at night. That’s the time when my brain seems to decide to run through any and all things I’m currently stressing about and then I end up too keyed up to sleep. I’ve been finding it very helpful to have an audiobook handy for bedtime as well. I start listening while I’m getting ready for bed, putting my PJs on, etc. and then I just get into bed and keep listening. It soothes and relaxes me to the point where I usually fall asleep while listening. So yes, there is some backtracking involved in the morning to find my place again, but that’s so much more preferable to tossing and turning and stressing out half the night.
- This is probably also another dumb ME thing, but I learned you can now change the speed of your audiobook narration. When I first started listening to audiobooks back in the day, another initial audiobook complaint of mine was that the narration was always so slow. I found myself sitting there like ‘OMG, read it faster, please!”
Most of the audiobooks I was initially listening to back then were CDs from the library, but now with the mp3 audio files you can download from the library, there are options to speed up the narration. Best thing ever! I use 1.25x and it’s the perfect speed for me. Fast enough to move things along but not so fast that I can’t keep up. Love it!
- Lastly, I realized that not all genres work well for me on audiobook so I just needed to find out which ones worked the best. What I discovered was that fantasy doesn’t work all that well on audio for me. There’s something about the worldbuilding and sometimes the unique character names, etc. that I feel like I need the actual print book in hand to keep track of everything. Again, another ME thing. Man, there are lots of those, aren’t there? LOL! Anyway, while fantasies didn’t work well at all for me, contemporaries work beautifully! I can breeze right through those on audio and don’t feel like I need the print book to refer back to. I guess maybe it’s the familiarity that goes along with contemporaries since they’re set in our time, etc., but they are just such a great fit for me on audio.
So, there you have it. Several reasons to consider giving audiobooks a second look even if you’ve rejected them in the past.
Question: Have you tried audiobooks? If so, what has been your experience with them?
I’m so glad you gave them another chance! Points 1-3 are my top 3 reasons for loving audiobooks — my drive to work is a whole different experience!
Right? I found myself actually wishing my drive was a little longer so that I could listen longer, lol.
I love audiobooks! I agree it makes doing chores and the like much better. I actually find that fantasy works for me and I don’t love contemporaries on audio. I do love mystery/ thrillers on audio though. I also found that if a book doesn’t work for me sometimes I try the audio and that works. Great post!
I still need to try a mystery on audio. So far I’ve just tried contemporaries and fantasy/sci fi.
Great to hear you’ve found how audiobooks can work for you – I think that is the key when dipping your toe into the world of audiobooks; what works for one, won’t work for another. I started listening to audiobooks last year, and personally found that rereading works really well for me on audio… Which is why I don’t actually listen to them all that much. Haha! Great discussion topic.
Haha, that’s a good point! Maybe I could try some of my re-readings while I’m at work.
Very helpful post😊 I’m one of those people who haven’t given audio books a proper chance, but maybe I’ll try again!
Thanks! Hopefully they’ll work better for you the second time around. 🙂
Ever since my commute got longer last year, I’ve been listening to audiobooks a lot more. It makes the ride go so much faster and I don’t have to listen to commercials! I started off with a lot of memoirs; no plot to keep track of, usually just shorter stories, and read by the author, which is cool. I’m starting to listen to more regular fiction now, too. I did some Harry Potter rereads, and now I’m listening to some other YA. I don’t think I could do high fantasy on audio; like you said, too much to keep track of in terms of the world! Great post!
I was just thinking that re-reads might be a good choice for me to try at work. That way if I do randomly zone out, at least I won’t have missed as much, lol.
My husband works for a company that records and sells audiobooks, so I felt compelled to try them out. I also really disliked them at first, which made me feel like a traitor! However, like you, I just had to find which ones worked for me. I really enjoy memoirs or other nonfiction since there aren’t characters or plot to constantly be paying attention to. And I find it really cool when the authors read their own books (Chip & Joanna Gaines, Kevin Hart, the Bush twins). I have also recently learned to up the reading speed (I use 1.45x, which at first sounded crazy to me, but now I am used to it). My commute is only five minutes, so I mainly listen to them when I am exercising too. They are definitely a great way to add to my reading totals!
I haven’t gotten brave enough to try 1.45x yet but I may have to do that just to see how it works for me.
I had the same issue as you. I tried audiobooks years ago and couldn’t pay attention to them. Now that I run every other day, I’m thinking about trying them again. I’d have to cut back on my podcasts, though. I usually listen to them when I run.
If you try them, I hope they work for you!
Like you, I used to be convinced that audiobooks weren’t for me. In fact, I was such a purist that I felt that (for me) listening to an audiobook did *not* count as reading a book. Boy, have I done a turnaround in the last few years! 🙂 I’m still rather choosy when it comes to genre and narrator – and for certain favorite authors/books I will always read rather than listen – but I’m now a total fan. They definitely make my commute more entertaining! 🙂
They really do make commuting so much better. I found myself sitting in the parking lot for an extra few minutes just so I could listen a little longer, lol.
Great post. I agree you. I love audiobooks and have for several years. I do listen while at work, but it also depends on what I’m doing at the time. I do a lot of coding, and I can listen while I’m doing that, unless I have something really quirky that I have to figure out. I can listen while writing or reading anything at all. Even scrolling through Twitter can be hard for me, while listening to an audiobook. Chores are perfect. There are times when I search for more things to clean to keep listening. I even listen while vacuuming (with the help of noise canceling headphones over earbuds in my ears, LOL).
One tip I give new listeners, listen to a book they already know and love. That will help with the mind wondering thing, because you already know what happens, so you don’t really miss anything. After a few books, you learn to stop letting your mind wander off. Great topic! I hope you convince a few people to go back and try again. And I know several people who can only listen to certain genres.
That’s a great tip. I was also thinking of trying some re-reads while I’m at work. That way if I zone out randomly I haven’t missed too much.
I’m not generally an audiobook-er, but I will say they got me through a Shakespeare class. I read along as I listened to the plays. OMG! what a difference that made. Typically, if I listen to them I’m usually reading along because I’m having a a hard time staying focused. I’ve tried listening to them on my commute, but often found myself falling asleep (not good).
I’ve never tried Shakespeare on audio but that actually sounds pretty appealing.
I’ve tried audiobooks a few times and they just don’t work for me. I even tried when walking because you’d think I could concentrate, but I find myself kind of repeating what’s being said to me in my head and it drove me NUTS! So yeah, that’s a ME thing for sure but I don’t have a way to stop that haha. I’m glad you tried them again though and really love them!
That sounds like the way I was when I was trying to listen to them at work, lol.
Maybe if I have a driving commute again, I’ll give audiobooks another go. For now, reading on the subway is the best!
Oh yeah, I would definitely read if I commuted via subway.
Number 6 was the biggest thing that helped me discover my love for audiobooks. I cannot listen to every genre on audio. SFF books really don’t work for me, and therefore, I usually stick to contemporaries. I love being able to multitask. Drive, shop, do chores, and still get to work on my TBR. Winning!
I’ve only tried one sci-fi audio so far and while it was okay, I still think contemporaries work best for me in audio format.
Love this. Sharing on this week’s Sunday Post 🙂
Aww, thanks! 🙂
These are all great points, and my problem with audio is always been that I get sidetracked too. So I’m doing the same thing- not using them at the most optimal times, probably. If I did them while driving, or doing mindless chores, that would probably work much better! Or right before bed- another good one. Maybe I’ll have to try these…
If you try any of them, I hope they work for you. 🙂
I love audiobooks, and for many of the same reasons. I can’t listen to them while working, either. I’m an indexer, so like you, I’m working in-depth and in detail with written matter, often quite complex; it requires all my focus. But for household chores, exercise, and driving, they are ideal. I also love listening when I’m doing uncomplicated knitting, or when I’m spinning. I do find I go through periods when I listen a lot and periods when I prefer silence, though.
I haven’t tried speeding up the narration, since it rarely bothers me much. I may give it a try on my next read, since I know many audiobook listeners prefer it.
Great post! I’ll be linking to it in my next News & Notes post, whenever that is.
I’d be curious to know how speeding up the narration works out for you. It surprised me how much even a tiny bump in speed really helped keep my thoughts from wandering away from what I was listening to.
I fell in love with audio books when I had an hour long commute each way to and from work a few years back. While my commute is too short to try to listen in the car now, I still listen when walking on the treadmill at the gym.
I really love doing the audiobooks while I’m on the treadmill too.
I have tried audiobooks but as English is not my mother language I have to focus really hard and tend to lose track. reading English on the other hand is as easy as reading in my own tongue. Now I should try doing mindless chores and maybe focus on contemporary reads like you said. If you have a great one to recommend, please just tell me 😉
So far I’ve found that Becky Albertalli’s books work really well for me in audio.
I just can’t concentrate on audiobooks. I feel like I need to be doing something while listening, and then I don’t pay attention or I miss stuff, haha.
I hear ya! That’s why I can only do mindless tasks and listen. If I do anything that requires concentration, I forget that I’m even listening to a book, lol.
Totally me. Then something will end up bringing my attention back and I’ll realize I missed a whole section of the book, haha.
I haven’t always loved audiobooks, but over the last year, I’ve come to really enjoy them. I’m similar in that some genres don’t work for me, but I allow that a lot of it could be the narrator’s performance.
Yes, the narrators can definitely make a big difference as to whether I enjoy one or not as well.
I’ve tried audiobooks in the past and ALWAYS failed. To follow the book, I had to basically sit and do nothing which defeated the purpose of audiobooks… If I’m sitting, I may as well be reading it myself! Then, the narration speed annoyed me. Then the narrator’s voice… There was always something.
However, I recently bought a UF boxet and decided to listen in the car on the commute to work. The speed issue I resolved – like you – by speeding it up. The narrator’s voice… Well, that is especially annoying in this boxset as she can’t do a passable Scottish accent to save her life and one of the characters is Scottish. However, over time, I became numb to the pain (mostly.) Listening while driving was a challenge at first, like I was having to consciously listen rather than passively absorb what was going on but now I’m on book 3 of the boxset I’m finially getting the hang of audiobooks in the car!
I don’t think I’ll ever be a true convert but then again I never thought I’d get to a point of tolerating audios at all so I guess we’ll see!
This was an awesome post. 🙂 Maybe I’ll give listening another try while doing the ironing… I have a mountain that needs to be tackled!
Yeah, it definitely takes some getting used to and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I love to listen while I’m folding laundry and ironing. Makes those chores so much more tolerable, lol.
Glad you reconsidered! It’s impossible for me to listen when I need to concentrate on something but those mind-numbing chores make excellent opportunities. I have wireless headphones and listen while grocery shopping, a chore I DESPISE!! Great post.
Oooh, I had never thought to try one while grocery shopping. I hate shopping too so I’m going to have to try this.
Yes to ALL these reasons. #1 is a huge one for me. I actually don’t mind doing the dishes and the laundry when I have a book to listen to! Oh, and just like Jonetta said, I listened to a book just yesterday while grocery shopping. It works out perfectly.
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I need to try to grocery shopping tip. That’s one of my least favorite chores so anything to make it a little less painful, lol.
This is an excellent post and I agree with everything you said.. Points 1 and 4 apply perfectly to me too… audiobooks definitely make chores seem less boring and are my lifesaver while trying to sleep… This year has been great in that I’ve discovered some very good audiobooks and narrators and it’s so much fun 😊😊
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I love it when I find a narrator that I really enjoy too.