But it took me a long time to reach that conclusion. As I mentioned in that post, it took me 7 years to get comfortable listening to audiobooks. That’s a long time!
Audiobooks are a growing tend in the publishing industry. In 2017, audiobook sales increased by nearly 30%! That’s crazy! And I can only imagine that they are doing the same (if not better this year). I’ve noticed that a lot of my favourite authors have been releasing audio versions of their new books months before they published versions hit the shelves.
Which is why I wanted to created this post today. I know that for some, audiobooks are a daunting format to even consider reading. But I’m hoping that with some of the tips below, you are encouraged to at least try and see why audiobooks can make a great addition to your reading habits.
Below you’ll find some of the tips that I have tried and tested over the last 8 years. My previous post focuses more on my journey to find that all important first book but the tips below focus more on the actual reading experience.
1 – Start With Nonfiction
This is a tried and true method for me. Nonfiction novels are a great starting point for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are listed in more detail for Tip #2 and Tip #3, but this biggest reason is their subject matter.
I found nonfiction audiobooks didn’t require me to listen all the time. Seems counter-intuitive I know, but what I mean is that I was able to teach myself to listen to the book but not berate myself when I missed something important. You can easily discourage yourself when you get angry for missing certain parts and in turn, it can make for a horrible listening environment and experience.
For example, celebrity memoirs are great to listen to because you don’t need to listen to every detail. You can zone in and out if you have to and not miss too much. (And you can always use the rewind button if you need to!) I found by listening to these stories, I got used to focusing on the words and putting things together as well as remembering past topics without having the ability to flip back and check the previous pages.
Consider it audiobook training if you will.
2 – Find a Narrator You’re Familiar With
I read of a lot of celebrity memoirs when I first got into audiobooks because I enjoyed the familiarity of a voice I already knew. It’s especially true with actors because you are used to hearing their voices and deliveries on TV or at the movies. With audiobooks, all you’re doing is removing the visual but your brain can do the rest and you can easily visualize it in your head.
>> Tip: Listen to an audiobook sample before taking the plunge. You can usually tell pretty quickly if you will get annoyed by the narration or not simply by listening to a couple of minutes of the production.
But a lot of actors narrate fiction novels as well. When I made the jump to fiction I first picked up Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line because it is narrated by Veronica herself, Kristen Bell. Best decision EVER! Again, I felt like I was watching an episode of Veronica Mars without the visuals and it just really allowed me to immerse myself in the narrative and world.
3 – Start With Shorter Novels
If you’re like me, you might have a shorter attention span. I don’t do so well with books that have more than 300 pages because I often find myself getting bored (I’m looking at you Throne of Glass Series). That isn’t always the case but I do get distracted easily.
After listening to a few audiobooks, I soon learned that I didn’t enjoy books that had a length greater than 11 hours. So when I’m contemplating whether or not to choose the audio verison or the print, I take into account the length of the narration.
But, if you really want to listen to the audiobook you can always…
4 – Bump Up the Delivery Speed
I rarely used this feature before I started listening to fiction novels. But once I started using it, I couldn’t stop!
Bumping up the speed can help in a variety of ways. One is that it shortens the amount of time you have to listen to the novel. This is great for novels that are just that little bit too long for my attention span. For example, when I wasn’t totally enjoying Kingdom of Ashes, I bumped of the speed to get through it a little more quickly because I did want to see the ending.
But I also use the increased speed when the dialogue seems a to be a little stifled. Again, I used the speed initially in Kingdom of Ashes to help smooth out the awkward dialogue of the narrator. I did the same thing in West as well. Both times, it increased my enjoyment of the novel as I wasn’t as annoyed or distracted by the slower delivery.
Now, by default (unless it is for review copy purposes) I listen to all audiobooks on 1.25X to help smooth out the dialogue and help me finish that little bit faster.
>> Tip: If you find that audiobooks are too fast, most audiobook applications have a 0.5X speed to slow things down!
5 – Listen to a Previously Read Series
Finding that first audiobook to dive into can be daunting. I detail how I came to pick my first fiction novel in my post last year–it took me (at least) an hour to whittle it down to one.
Which is why I think returning to an old favourite is a great start. I’ve never done this per say but it was in my mind when I picked up the Veronica Mars series as audiobooks since I was already familiar with all the characters thanks to the show.
In a similar idea, I ended up picking up the audiobook version of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? after not being fully invested in the print version. Again, this goes back to Tips #1 & #2 but I just knew the stories Mindy tells would be much more entertaining if I heard her tell them to me in her voice. And they were!
Returning to a world or story you are already familiar with can help you get accustomed to the audio version. You can teach yourself to listen without having to worry that you will unintentionally miss something (and if you do, you already know what it is!). Familiarity in something that is new to you can be a great asset and that’s what a reread provides when it comes to audiobooks.
>> Tip: If you don’t want to pay to try out an audiobook, try you’re local library or an audiobook subscription service. Read my Service Review of Audible here!
Bonus – Listen to an Audiobook Instead of Music
When I first started listening to audiobooks 3 years ago, I started listening to them while running errands and doing chores because I was tired of listening to the music I had on my iPod. Sure, I could listen to the radio but I hate listening to commercials and music streaming services weren’t my thing. Listening to audiobooks was the equivalent of listening to the TV while it played in the other room and I quickly became engrossed in the story.
Which is why I started listening to audiobooks on my drive to work instead of the radio (which I listen to for my entire shift at work). When you drive by yourself, you can’t really spend that time reading or doing other things because you have to concentrate on your surroundings. And given the fact I was losing 2 hours commuting back and forth, I wanted to do something productive and make up for my lost reading time. Audiobooks were the answer.
Of course, there are times when audiobooks instead of music might not be the best idea. For example, I can’t listen to an audiobook and write a post for my blog at the same time (I can’t even listen to music with lyrics when I write). I don’t mind listening to books while doing cardio exercises but for some people they might need the beat of music to keep up their motivation. But the next time you reach for the playlist, why not try out an audiobook instead?
I hope you found some of those tips helpful!
Be patient as you try audiobooks. They are a very different reading experience and it’s something that takes time to get used to–especially if you are hesitant to try or go in thinking you won’t enjoy them. I had to teach myself to listen (it helps when you are driving by yourself and have nothing else to do but listen) while others can dive right in. Don’t be discouraged if that first book doesn’t work. Keep an open mind and try different things (i.e. genres) to see what works for you.
Here are some recommendations of audiobooks I loved in the last year: