For years and years, I kept moaning about audiobooks. I always knew that there is nothing wrong with them – and, fyi, they 1000% count as reading – but I had trouble paying attention to them. I kept getting distracted, even if I was sitting at home, quietly staring ahead.
After many a failed attempt, I had written off audiobooks as useful things that, unfortunately, don’t particularly suit me.
Obviously that changed – otherwise we wouldn’t be here – and today I want to share how that happened, because who knows, you may be struggling with audiobooks for the same reasons I was. Or.. audiobooks might genuinely not be for you, which is also valid! But I do recommend giving them another go, because boy, did they change my life!
You should know that not all audiobooks are equal.
I went into audiobooks the same way I go into everything – without any concrete knowledge or research. I was bummed when the first audiobook I read didn’t work out, and after another failed attempt, I was convinced the problem was me: clearly, I wasn’t cut out to read audiobooks.
Little did I know! At the time, I had no idea what a huge difference a good narrator can make – one who becomes the main character, one who gives voice to every single person in a unique way, and one whose intonation is a dream even on double speed.
Enter The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole, an audible original/exclusive released at the end of 2019. I adore, and I mean adore, Alyssa Cole, thus – even though I was not happy about it – I knew I was going to listen to the audiobook… and what an excellend decision that was! The cast is magnificent; they make the story and the characters come to life, and had me so damn engrossed in the book all through.
PRO TIP: For your first time, try to find an audiobook that has a full cast, and/or one that is on the shorter side!
Remember, your perception will improve over time.
Look, I loved The A.I. Who Loved Me, but I’ll be the first to admit that parts of it confused the hell out of me, especially when all the sci-fi action started. This was my first attempt at an audiobook while doing something else – in this case, I was decorating my shelves – and I did find myself losing focus at certain parts. However, my perception improves with each book, and now I listen to most audiobooks on double speed, which was, frankly, unthinkable when I started The A.I. Who Loved Me.
PRO TIP: This is not a race! Find the right speed for yourself and keep adjusting it depending on what you’re doing, and how alert/tired you are at any given moment.
I didn’t start my journey by racing through books. Actually, the first audibook I truly enjoyed was Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. I listened to it on normal speed, while sitting and doing absolutely nothing. On a side note, I loved and would highly recommend this novel, and the only reason it didn’t prompt me to listen to more audiobooks was that I was convinced this was the exception, not the rule.
Find the right activities to do while listening to audiobooks.
This is a key advice, though it might be a very obvious one; in that case, sorry! When I fell in love with audiobooks, I thought I could do basically anything while listening to them. Research for uni? OF COURSE. Answering comments? HECK YES! Reading blogs? WHY NOT? In reality, none of these activities worked for me.
But there are so many that do work! Organizing, tidying up, and (the quiet part) of cleaning? Perfect. Getting ready in the morning, or to go to bed? Helps me get started at the beginning, or wind down at the end of the day. Playing games on my phone or making headers for my posts? Super suitable. Oh, and don’t even get me started on how delightful it was to listen to The Afterlife of Holly Chase, a Christmas YA, while decorating our Christmas tree.
Fun fact: you can get a lot of reading done this way! If you can squeeze in half hour of listening time every day – cooking, baking, getting dressed, styling hair etc. – you can finish an 8 hour long auiobook in a little more than two weeks.
First person is superior to third person.
This is such a subjective opinion, and I’m so curious – do you feel the same way? Or the opposite? Or are you ambivalent? Either way, I’ve realized that first person narration works much better for me in audiobooks than third person. With first person narrators, it feels like I’m listening to the character talking, telling their story, and pulling me into it.
Third person can also be wonderful, no question, but even with an incredible narrator, like what we have in The Dry by Jane Harper, I sometimes find myself unhappy, because wouldn’t it be more fun to have the story told in first person POV!?
PRO TIP: Think of which one do you prefer in physical books! I love first person, so it isn’t exactly surprising that I’m more taken with first person narration in audiobooks.
Find the right genre.
When you search for “how to start listening to audiobooks” you’ll find a lot of advice telling you to look for biographies, short stories, poetry, or to reread an old favorite of yours. While I don’t necessarily think that’s bad advice, it won’t work for everyone. I started my (bad) audiobook journey with (1) a reread, and (2) a biography, and I ended up giving up on the first and switching to the physical version of the latter.
Instead of following what others say, try thinking of the genre you love the most, one you are the most comfortable reading. When it comes to audiobooks, I’m the most comfy reading contemporary novels, such as Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which was a wonderful experience to listen to. I know many people love to listen to fantasies, because they can feel sort of like a fairytale being told, and my first experience with a fantasy audiobook, Howl’s Moving Castle, was wonderful, so that might be a good route to take as well.
Do you enjoy audiobooks? Why/why not? What’s your favorite audiobook? (I’d love to get some recommendations!) Or one you really want to listen to?