Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Journeying Into Audiobooks


In January I completed my very first audiobook.
 
I'd always been hesitant to give the format of audiobook a try. I've listened to a few podcasts before, but that's the closest I'd gotten to something being narrated to me in my adult life. My initial hesitation stemmed from the possibility of not being able to take in the goings on... I thought that without physical words in front of me, perhaps the story wouldn't transform in to something in my mind like it does with reading a physical book, because in many respects a lesser concentration level is required.
 
That was my main gripe with giving audiobooks a try. So after I listened to a podcast last year (yep, it was Serial, if you were thinking it) I knew I could follow the goings on of a layered narration - I managed to keep up with that investigation easy. So what was stopping me?
 
Honestly, I think I was being a little bit stubborn. Audiobooks were on the rise, e-books are a much read book format, and I kind of wanted to hold on to physical books. I very rarely see people reading an actual book these days. I do live a bit out in the sticks, so I don't encounter as many people in a day as I once did living in the city, but honestly I was actually surprised the other day when I saw a man reading an actual book on the bus - I couldn't tell you the last time I had seen that in public, other than in the library.
 
For the record,  I do own an e-reader, I do read e-books, but very rarely. For me my Kindle is more a source for reading on travels, as well as in situations when it's too dark to read an actual book. But it was actually the gift of a Kindle Fire tablet at Christmas that pushed me that little bit closer to audiobooks. That, and the discovery of the YouTube channel Today In Jen's Library about three quarters in to 2015.
 
A culmination of things led me to step out of my comfort zone in January and read an audiobook (Question: is it still classed as reading? I think so). I'm always trying to broaden my reading horizons, whether that be trying a new genre, giving a new to me author a try, tackling a particular book that has been sitting on my shelves for some time, reading more non fiction etc. For me, in January, that meant the purchase of an audiobook.
 
I had no idea where to start! After some consideration, I decided going down the route of familiar was a good option. For me familiar means something I comfortable with and hold fond memories of, so naturally I downloaded the first of the Harry Potter series - honestly, Harry Potter is the optimum of comfort reading for me. At over 8 hours long, by the time January concluded I'd finished the book... And I have now moved on to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I'm planning to get through an audiobook a month currently.
 
Getting in to the swing of things didn't come easily however, it took me a while to get used to this new format, and one of the struggles with this was finding the time to read my audiobook. I set aside time each day to read, typically of an evening, and then I wanted to read an actual ink and paper book. People are forever talking about these great ways in which they incorporate audiobooks to their lives, but none of them seemed to apply to my lifestyle: in the car - I don't drive, on the commute - I'm a stay at home mum, whilst exercising - ha!, in the bath - I read an actual book, whilst doing the cleaning - not with a toddler on the go, I was kind of stuck.
 
When I did come to my solution, it was kind of a 'duh, why didn't I think of this sooner' moment. I listen to my audiobook in the morning whilst drinking my cup of tea. I get up before my toddler every weekday, and so I have anything from 30 minutes to an hour in which to faff about and have a little me time before the energy of toddler all day long (honestly, where do they get it from?!). Prior to listening to an audiobook of the morning, I didn't do much in this spare time of mine, and I rarely ever picked up a physical book that early, but now I get to start my day off by reading and I love that!
 
I'm really happy to have incorporated audiobooks in to my own lifestyle because I enjoy the method of storytelling and who doesn't want the opportunity to read more than what they normally would?! If you're hesitant to give audiobooks a try, as I was, that would be my number one tip - allowing them to fit you and your lifestyle.
 
This post isn't just about my journey into audiobooks though - I'm looking to you, readers, fellow audiobook listeners, to where I go from here. It's going to be a good while before I'm done with the Harry Potter reread, but I'm open to recommendations of what books to listen to after; what books have you found that translate well to audiobook format? I've just one other rec so far and that is from Trish's blog - Between My Lines - in the form of the Millennium series. I also purchased Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell when it was on super sale for just £2.99 - I've wanted to read this book for the longest time but the length of the physical copy put me off committing.
 
Leave me your recs below! I'd be especially keen to know what your first audiobook was.
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14 comments

  1. This is such a great post! Years ago, before I had Sunnie, I used to have a 45 minute commute to work and back. I really got into audio books (back then it was book on CD). I listened to the entire Woman's Murder Club series by James Patterson and loved it. It made the drive so much better. But once we had Sunnie, we moved closer to family and work. My drive is only 10 minutes to my moms to drop her off and then 10 minutes to work. Not enough time to get into a book, and not something a 5 year old wants to listen to. Lol. Like you point out, audio books only work when you can fit them into your schedule. I have tried them while I clean, but my house is small and cleaning takes less than an hour. I tried listening at work, but my job is an administrative assistant which means I get interrupted all day long, and I can rarely focus on a book when I'm doing my daily tasks. I have tried them when I run on the treadmill, but my mind wanders, and my treadmill is pretty loud - I tend to not hear important parts of the book and then I'm lost. I could listen while I'm getting ready in the morning, I suppose. But my daughter and husband usually talk to me non stop in the morning when we're getting ready for the day. We all wake up at the same time. My only other time would be in the evenings, but that's when I like reading my Kindle. Lol. I'm hoping that some day I will be able to work audio books back into my routine. I used to read through so many more books a year when I was able to listen to an audio book every week.

    I have several books on my Audible just waiting to be listened to. I hope I can fit them into my schedule at some point! I'm glad you were able to find a way to add them into your routine. When they're narrated well, they are so fun to listen to. I recommend suspense books on audio. I used to listen to a lot of James Patterson, Harlan Coben, etc. and loved them. But my favorite audio book to this day was The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum. I don't know if it was the story or the narrator, but I adored that book and it still sticks out in my mind to this day!

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    1. Ah, it's a shame audiobooks are currently no longer working for you. I hope you're able to fit them back in at some point or other because it seems like you really enjoyed them! What about on your lunch break at work?

      Although I've only read a few so far, I can see how the narrator will make or break an audiobook.

      Thanks for all the recs, Brandie! James Patterson and Harlan Coben are both authors I've wanted to try for the longest time. I hadn't thought of trying suspense novels - I don't know why seen as I enjoy them - but I'll definitely keep that in mind.

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  2. I'm listening to In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware and it is fantastic. The narrator is amazing! I've also really enjoyed the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley and Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Bossy Pants by Tina Fey. I know what you mean about struggling to figure out when to listen. I'm a stay at home mom as well so that cuts out the commute. I really didn't start listening until my son was in preschool and I started listening in the carline to pick him up and while cleaning when I'm home by myself. I can't remember what my first audio book was but I know I started with humorous books so it was probably either a Dave Barry book or something like that.

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    1. I've been thinking about trying the Flavia de Luce series -- glad to hear it is good on audio -- thanks!

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    2. The Flavia de Luce series sounds pretty interesting, and like my kind of read, so I'll be sure to keep them in mind. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. So glad you found a way to fit in audiobooks! I work at home and don't have a commute either, but I do love listening to an audiobook on long car rides with my husband to visit family or whatnot -- either listening to a book we both enjoy through the car speakers or sticking in my headphones for a "me" audiobook while he listens to some sports podcast or other that flies right over my head! For the time being, the little guy sleeps through car rides, so he's not in much need of attention in the car at this age. I do listen while cleaning and doing chores, but that's typically when my husband is home watching the little guy, so I don't have to worry about him getting into mischief or hurting himself. Another time I can still listen is when we go on walks -- but I don't think that will last much longer as he starts learning how to talk and will need more of my attention. For the time being, he just loves being outside and looking around at everything, so I don't feel the need to be constantly interacting with him. Honestly, I chatter at him all day long, so I think he likes the break, lol.

    ANYWAY, I really enjoyed all of the Neil Gaiman audios I listened to (children's/YA -- haven't tried any adult yet) which are narrated by the author himself. My husband and I both like doing re-reads of earlier books in a series before diving into a new installment when we don't have time to sit and do a print re-read to refresh our memories. I love memoirs and humor on audio and there are a wide range of options depending on your interests, etc. Rather recently I enjoyed some books about books -- The Reading Promise was particularly good and I also enjoyed The Year of Reading Dangerously and Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. I think you're a Shirley Jackson fan if I recall correctly and We Have Always Lived in the Castle was a great listen. And The Martian by Andy Weir was great too. So many great books! I hope you find

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    1. I feel like car rides - long or short - would be great for listening to audiobooks, and I see why you and your husband make use of that time. Neither me, nor my partner, drive, so that shuts that option down. Walking too - I wish I had thought of that before when my toddler was little!!

      Haha! Oh, I get that feeling Christine - I feel like I'm yabbering all day long and all Alexander is thinking is 'does this woman ever shut up?' - haha!

      Of the Neil Gaiman books I've read, I've never really connected with his writing, but I think I'll give an audiobook a go in the future. The fact that it's narrated by the author himself may add an extra element to the story telling.

      I am a fan of Shirley Jackson, you're right, so I'll be sure to give We Have Always Lived in the Castle too.

      Thanks for all the recs!!

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  4. I don't really have any suggestions to offer, because I haven't embraced audiobooks really yet. The two places I have found that they work for me are on long car rides, like Christine said, and when I'm weeding the garden. (I hate weeding, so audiobooks give me a little motivation.) I'm interested in trying Harry Potter on audio, because I've heard a lot of people say they're very good. And I always need an excuse to reread them for the fortieth time! :)

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    1. I totally understand how listening to an audiobook on a long car journey would be good. Haha - and I like the way in which you use it for motivation with the weeding!

      I'd recommend the Harry Potter audiobooks. I'm listening to them narrated by Stephen King, and they're really enjoyable and engaging. Haha. A Harry Potter re-read is always a good thing!

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  5. I'm an audiobook fanatic but it took me a long while to become that way! I don't remember what my first book was--I borrowed discs from a coworker who checked them out of the library--but when I listened to the first three books in the James Patterson Women's Murder Club series, I found I really enjoyed them. It was also a turning point because that's not the kind of book I'd pick up in print--I realized that I might have to choose things a little out of my reading comfort zone in order to fully absorb the books (no offense to James Patterson, but his books are a little easier than some of the other authors out there). Now my favorite go to books are nonfiction, a genre that rarely keeps my interest in print.

    I've heard Harry Potter is amazing on audio--I look forward to listening to it one day when my girls are older and we're on a roadtrip. Others I'd recommend are Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (science fiction but it's so entertaining), Before I Go to Sleep (I couldn't stop listening to this one!), Where'd You Go Bernadette (great narrator). I've listened to dozens of audiobooks over the years, so if you are looking for more, let me know :)

    And I agree--the stay at home struggle. I generally clean when the baby is napping and listen then. Otherwise most of my listening is done when I'm working and have a commute. I haven't finished an audiobook this year. Sad!

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    1. It's great how switching up the format of reading allows us to step outside our general reading zone, and pick up some books we otherwise wouldn't.

      That would be such a great time to listen to the Harry Potter audiobooks!!

      I've been interested in Ready Player One for longest time now, but because it is science fiction I've always put off reading it - sci fi isn't a go to pick of mine - I'll be sure to check it out on audiobook though, because like you said, I do think it's a good way to enjoy books you wouldn't necessarily in physical format.

      Ah, I hope you get round to finishing an audiobook soon!! And thanks for the recs :-)

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  6. I really like audiobooks but I mostly listen to them on the treadmill. I broke my ankle in July, so I am really not back up to my treadmill standards which means I am so behind in audiobooks. I hope you continue to enjoy them, but it definitely can be hard to find a time to listen to them. I have to be doing the right thing or I quickly find I am not retaining what is happening...

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    1. Ah, that's a shame to hear - I hope you're able to heal fully soon so you can get back on the treadmill!!

      I get what you mean about doing the right thing otherwise you won't retain what is happening... I've found if I listen for too long I switch off. So my little burst of reading in a morning is just perfect.

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