5 Reasons to Get into Audiobooks (and Bonus How-To Tips!)

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

I’ve been a fan of audiobooks since the days when a book was a big bulky set of a dozen or so cassette tapes that I listened to in my car on my long Los Angeles commute. Today, I think they’re a necessity for anyone who wants to read a great many books but has a busy life. If you haven’t embraced audiobooks yet, I highly recommend you give them a try! Here’s why:

1. Listening to audiobooks can easily increase your overall book consumption by 50% to 100% because you’re using time that previously wasn’t available and turning it into valuable “reading” time.

2. You can listen in your car; while exercising; while walking or hiking; or while doing mundane tasks around the house or yard. I often listen to a book while folding laundry or doing dishes, or on longer car trips.

3. Audiobooks can be listened to on a variety of devices. They’re convenient.

4. There are now multiple audiobook apps available for iPhone and Android, and various ways to buy audiobooks. You can even check them out from the library. (Search the web for rankings and reviews of various apps.) Personally I find membership in Audible.comΒ to be a great deal.

5. Even if you don’t do well with audio processing of book content, you can try various kinds of books to see if some work better than others. Some people don’t like to listen to fiction in audio because they can’t get immersed in the story, but find they can engage just fine with non-fiction. It’s worth experimenting.

But what if you’re uncomfortable with audiobooks and just can’t get into them?

Here are some ideas:

  • Start with a book you’ve already read and loved. This can help you get comfortable with the audio experience. You might also want to start with books that aren’t too complicated, books for the purpose of pure enjoyment.
  • Look for books narrated by a well-known actor. This can significantly enhance the experience! A favorite of mine is The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, narrated by Colin Firth. I also enjoy memoirs narrated by the author, such as Tina Fey’s Bossypants. (Google “best audiobook narration” for some ideas.)
  • Experiment with the speed of the playback. For most books, I can’t stand them on regular speed and usually listen on 1.25. Some people listen even faster. This definitely keeps you from tuning out!
  • It’s usually best to listen while you’re engaged in physical tasks like folding laundry or taking a walk. I find my mind wanders if I’m just sitting there (and if I’m sitting, I’d rather be reading).
  • Occasionally you’ll come across an audiobook with terrible narration. It happens, and it can ruin the book for you. Don’t be afraid to give up on those. (You can usually listen to a sample before purchasing the audiobook.)
  • Make use of the bookmarking tool in your audiobook app to save quotes you want to remember, or save your place if you want to go back and listen to another part of the book.

Have you tried audiobooks yet? What’s your experience?



28 Responses

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  1. Listened to two audiobooks.
    * Zig Ziglar, “Conversations With My Dog” – terrific, meaningful, moving.
    * Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture” – weak and whiny. I’m dying of the same thing, and the dude needed to cowboy the **** up. Everyone dies. Deal with it without the soft “we tearfully clung together.” No apologies for intransigence. Did I spell that right?
    * Prefer reading. Like my own version of the narrator’s voice better. Spending most of the day unable to move, time’s not issue.

    • God does SO love to make us eat our words when they are not reflective of our better selves. He noted the arrogance of my disdain for “we tearfully clung together” in ‘The Last Lecture’, and sent me a night and morning in which I could, quite happily, tearfully cling to a lamp-post.

  2. Carol Ashby says:

    I have several versions of Pride and Prejudice, both unabridged and abridged, and I love them all. There’s no better entertainment when I have the flu than listening to the unabridged version. I can pick the story back up without missing a thing even if I go to sleep.
    *We listen to audio books when we drive long distances. They’re also great in the mountain West when you’re driving in an area with almost no radio reception.
    *My husband tells me I need to record both my finished novels for him before the next 2-week camping trip. He’s heard all about the stories, but he’s never heard the written versions.

    • We, too, let books make the long drives more interesting. But to do your own book, what a fun idea, Carol. Great for the both of you. You’ll hear it with fresh ears, he’ll be your audience of one.

  3. Yes! I love them. Like you, I started with audobooks when I had a long commute (90 mi ea. dir.) for work. Interestingly, however, I find that fiction draws me in more than non-fiction, but I listen to both.
    The most interesting, and unexpected delight was when I bought the entire Bible on CD. I was not prepared for just how different it is to have the Bible read TO me than to read it myself. I think the most striking difference is that there is no “ponder time.” If I’m reading it myself, I can pause and “Hmmmm” a bit, but the guy on the CD (or now, mp3) just keeps reading, so you just have to roll with it. I cannot stop and contemplate.

  4. We’re leaving on vacation on Friday. Hubs will be driving for roughly 14 hours. He might let me drive, but he’s a nervous granny when I’m driving. I’ve only been driving since the last century, but whatever.
    Ahem…anyway…I have most of Tamara Leigh’s swoon worthy medieval novels on my phone. But I’ll have to time things carefully so that I’m not fanning myself at a gas station.
    “Honey, is there a problem?”
    “Uhhh, nooooo….but Garr just figured out that Annyn is a woman.”
    Maybe I should listen to a biography of a Canadian politician. Then I’ll sleep the whole trip.
    And definitely NOT anything from Laura Frantz either. I’d need to hotwire an actual fan.
    There’s your fair warning for the day. πŸ˜‰

  5. I’ve found I can’t listen to audiobooks while I’m driving, because I get too immersed in the story and end up distracted.
    But I love them for long road trips when my husband is the one doing all the driving πŸ˜‰ He’s a slower reader than I am, so audiobooks allow us to enjoy a book together.

    • I think I’d have a hard time listening while in traffic or just driving around in my local area … it’s not like music, where you can miss words and be okay. πŸ™‚ I wish I could, but I have to keep my head in the game when I’m driving. πŸ™‚ But yeah, long road trips are a different story, when I’m not having to drive. πŸ™‚

  6. I love audiobooks! I’ve listened to them since they were on cassette too. With two teen boys, I spend a lot of time in the car.It’s nice to have “reading” time while I’m on the go.
    *I haven’t listened to much nonfiction because I like to underline points that speak to me in nonfiction books.
    *i always bring audiobooks on road trips. They keep my brain alert and make the time pass quickly.

  7. CJ Myerly says:

    We’ll you’ve convinced me to give it a try. I’ve always balked at it because I’m very visual and I like to see the words on the page, but with two kids, my writing, and my blog, time for reading has become more limited. So, if I could listen to a book while cleaning, why not give it a try?

    • Victoria Penry Langdon says:

      Books narrated by the authors are the best! It is the difference between listening to John Denver sing Annie’s Song and MC Hammer singing it. One knows the lyrics and notes. The other knows the heart. But if the author version isn’t available then a good smooth voice will work.

  8. I love audiobooks on long car trips. We’ve used them for a long time, driving from Texas to Disney World. We loved the Narnia audiobooks, loved the narrator’s voice. But I find it hard to use them at home, when others are usually home, too. I could only use them if I were alone … and that doesn’t happen often. I used to try to listen to Bible teachers on the radio, and I’d just get too frustrated with interruptions. And I so agree … I couldn’t just sit there and listen, unless I’m in the car. πŸ™‚

  9. Back in the day, an English Literature teacher used a recording of ‘Macbeth’ to try to bring life to what his students saw as dry bones.
    * The Pointer Sisters opened as the Three Witches in Act 1 Scene 1, and completely won the combined hearts of the class with:
    “Where the place?
    Upon the heath,
    there to meet with MAC-BEETH!”
    * Mr. White, wherever you are, I still remember; I still love you for this, and for so many other gifts that opened up a World of Words.

  10. Yes! The only reason my husband still reads is audio. And I love Inkspell narrated by Brendon Frasier, so good. The narrator makes all the difference.

  11. Davd Todd says:

    I don’t like audio books. I can’t concentrate enough on them. I get through an audio book with zero retention.

  12. I have a couple of audio books, but I must admit that they aren’t something that I shop for. If I really like a book, I want it in print too, so it ends up being extra cost and double the storage space (perhaps this wouldn’t be an issue if I explored the downloading option). Road trips where I’m driving would be an exception, but if someone else is driving? I’d rather read aloud.
    Slightly off topic, but I’d love to do the audio for my own books one day! I know the author doesn’t necessarily have a say in that through traditional publishing, but one can dream. And I do.

    • Victoria Penry Langdon says:

      Books narrated by the authors are the best! It is the difference between listening to John Denver sing Annie’s Song and MC Hammer singing it. One knows the lyrics and notes. The other knows the heart. But if the author version isn’t available then a good smooth voice will work.

    • Deb Gruelle says:

      That’s a good dream to have, Angela! I’d listen to your audio book!

  13. Teresa Haugh says:

    I have had an Audible subscription for over a decade, and buy audible books almost exclusively. If you occasionally choose a book you don’t like, you can easily return it for a credit. Besides having the joy of being read to, the books take up no space in your house, and you can access your library anywhere. I have about 10 books at a time downloaded to my phone. We only have about 45 miles of road, with no road out of town, so I don’t listen often in the car. But I do listen while doing housework, laundry, hiking, and working out at the gym. Also, setting the sleep timer for 30 minutes or so is a great cure for insomnia. Who doesn’t like a bedtime story?

  14. Jackie Layton says:

    It’s amazing how much faster a trip goes when I listen to audio books.

  15. Rachelle, thank you for inspiring us to consider the benefits of audio books. My family loved listening to them while travelling to town. We’ve enjoyed quite a few classics over the years. We mainly used ones we were familiar with.
    Your mention of listening to an author narrate her memoir caught my attention, as I’ve considered this possibility with my own. Podcasting has helped me improve my speaking voice so that I’ve gone from being nervous about recording to looking forward to each session. Wordsmithing is double the pleasure when you write for both the eyes and ears.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    • I would love to hear you read your memoir, Wendy Mac. I love your voice. πŸ™‚

      • Agreed!

      • Dear Shelli and Shirlee, I can’t tell you how much a I needed a shot in my writerly soul. Yesterday morning, I asked God to let me know where to continue focusing my energy because I was struggling with insecurity. I left it with Him since I’ve learned from experience He is able to encourage in the most unexpected ways. Out of the blue, I received kind words from a staff member at HopeStreamRadio. And now you two have blessed me–thank you! πŸ™‚

  16. Betsy Dyson says:

    I love audio books! They have changed my world.

    I never enjoyed reading. I am a slow reader and guessing dyslexic.

    However, I crave information!

    There isn’t a day, since I found audible’s about 3 years ago, I haven’t spent some amount of time listening to a book.

    If I miss something I can β€œrewind” 30 seconds at a time.

    If I want to ponder something, I hit pause.

    Writing is a joy, but now reading/listening is too.

  17. Lori Benton says:

    I wish I could get all my reading fiction on audio. I would read so much more. I’ve enjoyed audio books since the early 1990s and have all time favorite narrators. Being a Recorded Books fan from way back, I was over the moon when they bought the audio rights to my books. A dream come true for this audio book junkie.

  18. Beverly Briggs Booth says:

    Great suggestions especially about terrible narration. I agree that audio books are a great way to enjoy a novel. When I was on the road five days a week they prevented boredom and increased my vocabulary.

    Now that I am in school full-time online, I no longer listen to audio tapes. I am so glad you suggested to listen while doing housework and mundane tasks like folding laundry. I am going to pick up one tomorrow.

    I also love the idea of looking for a narrator by a well-known actor. It never occurred to me.

    Your blogs are interesting and helpful. Thank you.