So you want to listen to more audiobooks

Lately I have been blowing through audiobooks.  I've had long commutes for most of my career, but I had trouble getting into audiobooks until the past few months.  I still love listening to podcasts, but there undoubtedly is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment every time I finish listening to a book.

Here are a few of my recently discovered secrets for getting through audiobooks.


1.  Stop listening to any books that you don't love. 

This is a rule I try to follow whether I am reading or listening, but I have found it proves especially important when listening.  When I do not have a visual cue, my mind is especially prone to wander.  If I cannot get into the book within the first hour, I ditch it, no matter how much I wish I liked it.

Which brings me to...


2.  Make friends with your library.

Audiobooks are pricey.  Production costs are high, and sales are relatively low.  Most libraries have agreements with audiobook lenders such as OverDrive.  I request holds on book titles and when they become available, they are automatically checked out to me.  I can download them on my phone using the Overdrive app and have them ready for me.  The downside is that you cannot control when the books will be delivered to you.  There definitely are times when four books become available to me at once and there is no way I can get through them all in the three week lending period.  But, free is free.


3.  Have a variety of titles on hand.

Sometimes I am in the mood for a breezy novel and other times I crave nonfiction.  I try to have more than one audiobook loaded on my phone at any given time so I have something to match my mood.  I do the same with the books I read, which is why you see on Goodreads that I always have about eight books going at once.


4.  Be choosy with your narrator.

It has taken me a long time, but I have finally learned that the narrator always wins.  I cannot tolerate a narrator who grates on my nerves or who puts me to sleep, and I will no longer try.  Even if the content is superb, I abandon the book if I don't click with the narrator because I know from experience it won't work.


5.  Know your style.

Certain books I need to process visually.  I tend to listen to "chick lit" and nonfiction, particularly nonfiction that is read by the author.  The latter are actually some of my favorite books for listening, and I feel I gain much more from them because I get the author's nuances.  Technical books or those with complicated, flowy prose do not lend themselves well to listening--for me, anyway.


6.  Play with the speed.

I listen to most books now on 1.5 X speed.  At first that speed felt a bit fast, but I actually find that the faster speed helps me pay better attention and my thoughts are less prone to drifting.  Speeding the reading up even a slight bit makes a big difference when you are talking about ten hours worth of content, so consider giving it a try.


I have held out on an Audible subscription for all this time, and I keep thinking that I will cave, but then I don't.  (From what I hear, Audible allows you to return books you don't like, and their book credits never expire.  I cannot bring myself to pay the $15 each month, though.)

Emily Rowell Brown