It took me years to find the knack to listening to stories rather than reading them, but after my online friends kindly shared tips for enjoying audiobooks, I’ve been loading them up one after the other. There are so many benefits to accessing the audiobook format that it’s worth taking some time to experiment and find a method that works for you. I’ve detailed some of the suggestions that I followed below and hope these help you too.
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What are the benefits of listening to audiobooks?
I only realised how many advantages there were to audiobooks when I began to enjoy them. If you’re not already convinced, here are just a few reasons:
- Audiobooks offer a more sustainable alternative to books.
- If your bookshelf space is restricted, audiobooks take up zero room!
- You can listen to audiobooks when on the move.
- Plugging into audiobooks can improve your listening skills.
- Emotions can be expressed more accurately in audiobooks.
Research the best audiobook recommendations
When I first started to try audiobooks I made some false starts because I didn’t do enough research. It’s best not just to rely on the audiobook provider for recommendations. Instead, cross-reference different platforms and blog posts to find out which recordings garner the best reviews. Audiobooks require more ingredients that printed books. You need both the content and the voice(s) to work for you. Lose one and the experience will fall short.
If you’re on Bookstagram or Book Twitter, ask your followers for suggestions. The more information you can collect, the more likely that you’ll choose the right listening material.
Listen to a free audiobook sample first
On most platforms, you can hear a free sample of the audiobook before you purchase it. This is essential because you’re going to be hearing a LOT of this person’s voice over the next week or so. If the tone grates or doesn’t fit your impression of the book then go with the physical version or choose another story instead. It’s not worth parting with your money or time for an experience that doesn’t suit you.
Choose audiobooks with shorter running times
When you’re starting out, select audio books with short running times so that you don’t feel as if you have a huge mountain to scale. I made the mistake of listening to an absolutely mammoth (although amazing book) the first time and because I wasn’t in the habit of listening, it took me ages to finish it. Here are some well-recommended shorter audio books that you could start with:
The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff (4 hours and 9 minutes)
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (5 hours and 32 minutes)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (4 hours)
Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America by Ta-Nehisi Coates (3 hours 35 minutes)
Invest in good earphones for audiobooks
You don’t need to spend a fortune on earphones but having decent ones will improve your listening experience. I lucked out a couple of years ago and received BeoPlay earphones on a mobile phone promotion so I use these.
What’s the difference between earphones and earbuds?
I had to do some research on this but basically earbuds sit over the ear and earphones have soft silicon ends which you can insert slightly into your ear. Mine are earphones and I really like these because they block out distracting noise. I also have wired earphones rather than wireless because being a pretty clumsy person, I prefer the extra security of having them plugged into something.
There are loads of wired earphones on the market and the choice is mind-boggling so I’ve cross-checked lots of reviews for the best-rated as of September 2020:
- PANASONIC ErgoFit Earbud Headphones with Microphone and Call Controller Compatible with iPhone, Android and Blackberry – RP-TCM125-K – In-Ear (Black)
- urBeats3 Wired Earphones With 3.5mm Plug – Tangle Free Cable, Magnetic Earbuds, Built In Mic And Controls – Black
- RHA MA390 Universal: Noise Isolating Aluminium In-Ear Headphones with Universal Remote & Microphone, 3 Year Warranty included
If you’re like me and lose things regularly, I recommend storing your earphones in a safe place. I keep mine in an old make-up bag.
Experiment with the speed of the audiobook narration
Speeding up the audiobook narration is a popular hack among the reading community. You don’t need to tweak the pace much to accelerate your progress, and if you’re enjoying a particular passage, you can slow it down again. There are no hard and fast rules about how you absorb books and just as you read in different ways, you will probably change your speed settings regularly depending on your concentration and mood.
Listen to the narration in short chunks
Most of us are not used to listening to people speak for long periods of time so break down your audiobook time into smaller chunks. Because you’re not seeing visual prompts, chapters provide less of a divide so either set a timer or simply stop when you come to a natural point in the story.
There’s no race to finish the book (unless you’re on the 30-day trial) . If you’ve bought an audio version then it will remain on your device. And remember that if you do lose focus, then it’s OK to rewind and listen again.
Tune into your audiobook when doing boring chores
This one was a revelation for me and one of my top tips for enjoying audiobooks to the full. This technique has definitely made me more enthusiastic about doing housework. Listening to a book while doing mindless tasks makes perfect sense to me and is one of the main benefits of audio. If you want to bump up your reading then this can help you to add one or two more books to your monthly quota quite easily. Listening to audiobooks can be easily fit into all of the below activities:
- Walking the dog
As an extra benefit, I find that I end up spending longer doing these things if I’m listening to a great story.
Substitute stories for music on car journeys
This one has been a huge win for me. I get really car sick if I look down while travelling so reading is a complete no-no. Audiobooks have filled that gap in my life and made long journeys 100% more interesting. Occasionally the family will listen to a book together, but more often than not, I stick my earphones in (as a passenger) while the others play their choice of music. It works out well for everyone.
Which audiobook service to choose?
There are a number of audiobook services out there but I use Audible. It’s very easy to use, has good pricing with frequent offers and you can pause membership at any time. What’s more, Audible seems to have exclusives on lots of new publications which makes them a market leader.
You can trial one free title for 30 Days. This is how I started off and it’s a great way to get into the swing of listening to audiobooks.
Scribd is the next best known service and offers unlimited access to audiobooks for £9.99 per month. I have no personal knowledge of this provider but judging by recent reviews there are some issues with the range of accessible titles and also cancellations. It’s worth keeping an eye on this if you are planning to listen to lots of books though.
Google Play Books
You only buy books individually on Google Play Books rather than subscribing. The app has a clear display with a fair amount of offers although many of the newer titles are priced at £9.99. I really like the fact that they highlight free audiobooks on their home page.
This is US only and allows you to purchase audiobooks directly through your local, independent bookstore. Please come to the UK!
Kobo Audiobooks has the cheapest subscription audiobook service at £6.99 per month. I hadn’t particularly looked at this before but they are showcasing some great books plus have a 30-day free trial.
With so many options to choose from, audiobooks are here to stay and I highly recommend you adding them to your reading world. They offer variety and flexibility to the book lover’s life.
If you found this useful, check out these other posts:
- 5 Reasons to Love Your TBR pile
- 70 Bookish Quotes to Inspire Your Creative Life
- Beautiful Bookish Words for Bibliophiles
I really need to get into audiobooks a bit more. x
So worth it! They offer a more laid back alternative to reading! x
I am ATROCIOUS at listening to audiobooks and podcasts and basically anything that requires extended listening, but this really has me tempted to at least give audiobooks a try! I like the idea of listening on the go especially, but worry about missing important details because I have to pay attention to something else, like while driving, or because I zoned out, like I tend to do with audio only sensory input.
It is really worth trying to squeeze a couple of these in when you’re on the move because it makes the journey time much richer. And in terms of listening, it’s like reading – basically in the practice (and you can rewind if you need to!)