Let’s Talk: Audiobooks – Yay or Nay?

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Hi everyone! It’s finally the weekend and I’m here to talk about all things audiobook! I’d love to hear what you think about audiobooks: I know people who love them and people who loathe them. Some people class them as reading, some people don’t. Why are they so controversial? Surely reading is just reading… no?

Let’s start with a little bit about my own journey with audiobooks. I have not got a huge amount of experience with them but I am keen to experiment a bit more with the audiobooks that I consume. I’ve had an Audible account for a little while now and I’m desperate to make more use of it. I tend to prefer listening to non-fiction books online and some of my favourites have been celebrity memoirs such as Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and Sarah Millican’s How to Be Champion.

For me, the most wonderful thing about listening to these kind of books on audio is hearing the author/celebrity themselves reading the book. It makes the experience of listening to a memoir so much more special as it feels so warm and genuine. The intonations being in all the right places and the little chuckles here are there make it a wonderful reading experience. I rarely read memoirs in physical form but give me one on audio and I’m likely to devour it.

However when it comes to fiction I’m at a bit of a loss. Pretty much the only fiction I’ve actually read via audiobooks are the Harry Potter series which are narrated spectacularly by the incredible Stephen Fry. I adore the voices he uses for the different characters and being able to listen to my favourite series is such a soothing experience. But when it comes to new fiction, I’m not sure how they work for me. I am currently listening to Ready Player One which I’ve heard wonderful things about, yet I’m not sure how much of the story I’m actually retaining. I find my mind wanders a little when listening to fiction books but I don’t know if it’s just that my brain needs more training.

To summarise my current thoughts on audiobooks: I love using them for memoirs and rereading my favourite books but I think I am struggling when reading new fiction. I’m curious to know whether this is because I only have little experience with reading via audio or whether it means audiobooks aren’t for me?

I love the idea of audiobooks. I know they are not for everyone and I was surprised to see that some people don’t even include audiobooks as reading. In my opinion, listening to a book via audio is definitely still reading. The wonderful thing about audiobooks is that they make books so accessible to people who otherwise may not be able to lose themselves in novels. They take away barriers for those who struggle with long novels or aren’t able to focus on words on a written page. I know some of my own pupils really benefit from being able to listen to books, especially some of those who have dyslexia and find it difficult to read a physical book.

The other big bonus with audiobooks is that they can be listened to anywhere and everywhere! I quite enjoyed listening to Stephen Fry talk about Hogwarts whilst I was making lunch or walking to the shop, even just doing some cleaning around the house. They are great company and I love the service that Audible provides. Aside from Audible, I do wish that audiobooks could be a bit cheaper as they can be extremely pricey!

From me, it’s a big YAY to audiobooks and I hope that with a little more adjusting I’ll be able to listen to more new fiction and my brain will click into place with them a little more. But even if it doesn’t, I still think it’s a great way for me to reread old favourites.

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Are audiobooks a YAY or NAY for you?

I’d love to hear more from you about whether you read audiobooks, if you’re thinking of starting them and, of course, what recommendations do you have? 

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34 responses to “Let’s Talk: Audiobooks – Yay or Nay?

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  3. Ooh I did a post on this last year, I’m definitely pro audio-books but I go through phases, sometimes I have a major audio-book binge, and other times (like now) I have a stack of Audible credits to use.

    I do love listening to fiction books I quite often use them when I’m doing something else so can’t physically hold a book – useful for household chores! I also sometimes listen in bed, and despite having the sleep timer on I do spend a while the next day trying to figure out where I was before I fell asleep. I do find the narrator has such a huge impact on my enjoyment though, I’ve downloaded books I’ve not been sure about because they’ve been on offer and absolutely loved them because the narrator totally brings them to life, and other books where I’ve got the rest of the series in actual book form and know I enjoy where I’ve not made it past the first chapter because the narrator just grates on me for some reason!

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  4. I absolutely love audiobooks and generally listen a bit every day.
    I find that a narrator makes or breaks it for me, and that sometimes a narrator can completely change the story – there are books I’ve not liked when reading but loved listening to, and books that I’ve LOVED but the narrator has fell flat.
    And yeah, they’re so expensive 😦 Luckily my library has ebooks/audiobooks you can borrow which is saving hugely on costs.
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

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  5. I love audiobooks for the simple fact that I can squeeze “reading” in at any time. It’s definitely helped me be able to consume more of the books I’m dying to get into without rushing through reading physical copies. Especially for work commutes.

    However, sometimes I do feel a bit of a disconnect. Like I’m not 100% connected to the story because I’m listening rather than reading. Not sure if that makes sense? It can be a love/hate thing with audiobooks sometimes.

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  6. I really like audiobooks! I’ve noticed that I go through phases of listening to a lot in a row, and then not listening to any for a while. Audiobooks allow me to read while doing other things like cooking, cleaning, traveling, etc. It’s so great for multitasking! I did find it hard to stay concentrated when I first started listening as well. I eased into it through memoirs, re-reads of my favorite books, and narrators I was already familiar with.

    For example, Jesse Eisenberg narrates Holly Black’s Curse Workers trilogy. I already knew what to expect from his voice and that helped me pay more attention.

    I then started listening to more audiobooks (usually the shorter ones around 8 to 9 hours), found some other great narrators, and that’s how I got into it. Now I can bump up the speed and listen to longer audio books (and fantasy novels) without losing focus.

    I’ll never understand people who say that listening to audiobooks isn’t reading. What about people who are visually impaired? What about people with dyslexia? Or just people who have a lot to do and can’t sit down with a book? Audiobooks are a gift, in my opinion, and definitely count as reading.

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    • Great tips here, thank you! I definitely want to get better at retaining what I’m listening to but I guess it’s a case of practising! I totally agree that they count and they are absolutely a gift. I’m so glad they are becoming more popular now.

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  7. I LOVE audiobooks. I have been able to “read” at least 3 more books a week due to audiobooks. I had listened to Bossypants and really enjoyed Tina Fey’s narration. I have had mostly good luck with authors reading their own books. It’s just a great way to get some reading done as I do other things – drive, chores, shop, and I am lucky enough to have access to a lot of titles via my eLibrary.

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  8. I’ve been using audible for over a year and really do love it. I have found that non-fiction I struggle with reading but listening to I just fly through. However when it comes to fiction, a narrator can really ruin it for me. But I have found some gems (for example I’m listening to Monday’s Not Coming at the moment and the narrator is amazing!)

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  9. Great post! While I do see the advantages of audiobooks, so far I’ve never been able to really get into them. I’ve tried a few but mostly couldn’t get used to the narrator voices, and prefer to read the stories myself… But like you said, being able to hear the author reading their own stories does have its charm.

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  10. I go through stages where I love audiobooks and others where I’m less keen. I have the same struggle as you though when it comes to retaining information. I mostly listen to non-fic or re-read of fiction. I still really struggle with fiction on audiobook.

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  11. I think it does take a bit of time to get used to listening to fiction on audio as minds do wander but it’s worth persevering with as eventually your brain will get used to it. I find I focus more if I listen to an audiobook while doing a mindless task like housework, whereas if I sit down to listen to a book in the way I would sit and read a book I tend to lose track more easily. I definitely agree that memoirs read by the author are so great to listen to. 🙂

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    • I agree! I was listening to my book whilst doing bits on my laptop the other day and I had to reread the chapter because I couldn’t remember what happened. But when I was doing some tidying etc I was much more invested in the listening. I guess I need to keep it going and adapt 🙂

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  12. I’m a fairly recent convert to audio books. I wasn’t sure I’d retain it (and had bad memories of listening to books on tapes at school) but actually I really love them. It does need to be the right narrator and the right story. They take a lot longer so I prefer shorter and tighter stories but have also found it great for the classics.

    If you’re looking for free audios the library is fantastic. Most use the overdrive app so you can download on to your phone in the same way as audible.

    There’s also a website/mailing list which gives away 2 free audios a week over the summer all of which are aimed at YA. I think it’s called audio sync. Again it uses the overdrive app (although I’ve never gotten these to download on my phone so have to use overdrive on my laptop).

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  13. They definitely count as reading for me.. they’re called audio-BOOKS!
    I haven’t managed to get into them though, I’ve got Jayne Eyre and Charles Dickens collections but I find it harder to concentrate with audio books. Though what you’ve said about autobiographies makes me think I might like to try that..

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  14. I’m a little on the fence with audiobooks to be honest. I have tried them, a lot, and I’m not too sure how I feel. Maybe it’s because I’m just having them in the background. So I don’t always give it my full attention.

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    • I think this is also my problem because I often listen to them whilst doing something else so m brain isn’t 100% listening. Which means they work for rereads or non-fiction but not so much for fiction where I need to be actively following the plot.

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  15. The only time I’ve ever read an audiobook was just after my first surgery when I was younger, and I don’t really remember how I felt about it. I wouldn’t be averse to trying some, but it’s not something I really want to do soon, particularly as there isn’t an obvious time in my day where I could use them 💜
    Amy x

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