I am fully aware that a) I have mentioned these tips sporadically already through other posts and b) that audiobooks are considered controversial by some. To address these two things really quickly:
– Because I share my reading experiences on my Instagram (personal, and now my bookstagram), I have been getting a ton of questions about audiobooks. I want this post to concisely answer those questions and to live here forever so I can link back to this post as FAQs pop up.
– Listen (no pun intended 😉), if you don’t think audiobooks count as reading, no problem. Keep on carrying on. Personally, I do.
WITH WHAT APPS DO I LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS?
I use a range of apps. It’s out of personal preference. I’m also not super budget conscious so I don’t mind spending a little more on audiobooks, especially since I really enjoy listening to books.
I have a subscription with Audible & purchase audiobooks through Libro.fm. Technically, you’re definitely fine choosing just one. Audible (which is owned by Amazon) has great original content that I like to have access to in addition to the book credits I have and Libro.fm supports your local bookstore. Since I listen to so many books, I alternate between the two depending on whether I have an available Audible credit for the month or not.
** I have worked with Audible in the past, though it was a one-time flat-fee sponsored post and I recently received a handful of free downloads from Libro.fm in exchange for promoting on my bookstagram and a code to pass along a discount to followers. Truly love and use both though.
I also use Libby, which connects with my library card so I can download audiobooks (and e-books if that’s your thing!) for free. It’s great because you can see what’s available now or you can place a hold on a book you’re interested in and be added to a waitlist.
I almost always start my audiobook hunt via Libby. I scroll through what’s available sorted by popularity. Or, I may have an idea in mind and I’ll search for it there first. If the waitlist is too long, I move on to pay for it. Or, if it’s a book I’d like to read but I’m not dying to read ASAP, I’ll place a hold and wait for it. It’s pretty obvious that if a book strikes my fancy, I’d rather download it for free than to pay for it!
If it’s not available via my library and if I don’t want to be on a waitlist, I then either use an Audible credit (if I have one for the month) or purchase through Libro.fm.
HOW TO CHOOSE WHAT TO READ (aka listen to)
THE NARRATOR // Audiobooks are different than books in that a narrator can make or break it! It’s kind of like taking classes at school. Sure, everyone takes calculus but if you get assigned to a boring teacher who hasn’t changed their lesson plans in two decades and your friend gets assigned to the best teacher that everyone prays to get because she’s so engaging and makes learning fun, chances are, she’ll enjoy her class more than yours. Same material, different outcome. You’ll figure out after a while what kind of narration you prefer, but in the meantime, don’t skip listening to the previews available before committing. (If you’re downloading a book via Libby, you can still listen to the sample via Audible or Libro.fm for free.) Trust me, if the narrator isn’t your cup of tea, it’s not worth it.
THE CONTENT // Some books lend themselves better than others in audio form. When I was first starting listening to audiobooks, I really enjoyed memoirs read by the authors themselves. I’m almost always guaranteed to enjoy non-fiction books too, even preferring listening to reading text. Now I can listen to any kind of book, but if you’re not used to audiobooks, I’d recommend avoiding books with complicating timelines (particularly books that go back and forth between two years) and numerous main characters. Well, I should add the caveat that this is what I prefer. One easy way to see what you like best is to reference your favorite podcasts! If you like true crime podcasts, try a whodunnit or mystery novel. If you like interviews, try a memoir. If you like podcasts about entrepreneurship, try a business book.
One great thing about audiobooks right now is that these aren’t your grandmother’s “books on tape” anymore. Publishers recognize that this is how people are consuming their books now and they’re creating true masterpieces as a result. The audiobook Daisy Jones and the Six, for example, was incredibly well done with each character narrated by a different actor.
HOW TO CONSUME AN AUDIOBOOK
I have to be doing a secondary task to listen to an audiobook. If I try to listen to one sitting on a couch or reading, I simply fall asleep or find myself down a weird train of thought and realize I’ve missed two chapters, twenty minutes later. One of the things I like about audiobooks is that it allows me to capitalize on my time. I listen literally throughout the day, even if I only have five minutes. I can easily get in an hour of listening a day, which seems like a lot but trust me, the time adds up. I can’t always sit down for an hour to dedicate to reading, but I can squeeze an hour in over the course of a day. I listen while I: empty the dishwasher in the morning, take the dogs for their walk, fold laundry and put clothes away, drive during various errands, work out, needlepoint, and even curling my hair. My favorite time to listen to audiobooks is while working out. It actually makes me look forward to my workout and makes it go by that much faster.
Again, if you’re already a consumer of podcasts, you can kind of follow the same line of thought for when to listen. If you haven’t dipped your toes in the water at all, just dive in and figure it out from trial and error. (This is where having a library card helps because if you end up hating an audiobook, you can just quit without having wasted any money.)