As I said in my first post about where to find audiobooks, I was not always an audiobook reader. I didn’t think I could absorb books in the same way if I was listening to them as opposed to reading them with my eyeballs. And yet, last year I listened to 70 books. So how did I go from zero audiobooks in 2015 and 3 in 2016 to 70 in 2018? Well, that’s what I’m going to go into in this post. What worked for me may not work for you. But hopefully these tips at least give you a place to get started.
First of all, I think it’s important to figure out what kind of book is going to work best for you on audio. I found that both fantasy and celebrity memoirs worked for me best at first. If you already like podcasts, what kind of podcast do you like? That may help you figure out what type of long form audio to get into at first. I liked listening to celebrity memoirs because it’s pretty cool to have someone like Michelle Obama or Amy Poehler telling you about their life in their own words AND in their own voice. And I liked listening to fantasy because I never knew how to pronounce the names of characters and places. Plus, for me, a longer work meant more time to fall into the world with the narrator.
Relatedly, it’s important to figure out what speed works for you. The speed is adjustable and (in my opinion) that’s the best part! If 1x speed is too fast for you, there’s usually a .75 option. If you’re like me and your brain needs people to talk quickly in order for you to stay engaged, you can speed them up. I listen to audiobooks from anywhere from 1.75 to 2.5 speed. Usually, I’m only on 2.5 speed if it’s a reread though. Figuring out what comfortably works for your brain to process information is definitely key!
Second, you need to figure out HOW to listen. For years I could literally only listen to an audiobook if I was in the car. This worked well for me because I am not infrequently making long trips home to see my family or to training in another part of the state or just for fun. I eventually coaxed myself into figuring out how to listen to them while I was watching dishes or cleaning and now I listen while doing a puzzle. I’m not the type of person who can focus on someone talking without also doing something else, generally. But I’ve also gotten to the point that now when I’m sick or just super tired, I can turn on an audiobook and lay down. There’s a sleep timer that is especially useful if you can fall asleep while listening to audiobooks. I tend to actually have the same problem I have if reading with my eyeballs, which is that I want to just keep reading until I’m finished with the book. For other people, I know they’ve had better success if they read along with their eyes while the audiobook plays. I can’t do that because I can’t find a speed that works with how I read with my eyes.
Third, figuring out what type of narration works best for keeping you engaged is HUGE. I absolutely adore full cast audio. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom were really the audiobooks that cemented audiobooks as a form of reading that was going to work for me more broadly than being the only way I can read nonfiction. (Sorry, nonfiction.) But I also really love authors who are great voice actors, like January LaVoy and her narration of The Diviners. I don’t like narration where the person reading it does not do voice acting type things. I need to feel like the narration is adding to the story, rather than just reading me the story in a monotone. A great example of the narration changing the reading experience is actually Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. The narrator absolutely changes it from reading it with your eyes as I discovered in the Squibbles Reads live show on Instagram. Once you figure out what you think is working best for you, seek out similar recommendations. I’m always happy to provide recommendations and Trina from Between Chapters on YouTube listens to so many audiobooks and always evaluates narration separate from the story.
Relatedly, use the sample option and DNF liberally as you try to figure out what narration style works for you. And when you find a specific narrator that you like, see if you might be interested in any of the other books they’ve narrated already.
If you have tips for improving the audiobook experience, please feel free to add to this in the comments or provide links to other posts you’ve found helpful! And if you already have a favorite audiobook, please share that with me down below!