An Ode to Audiobooks

Image by Innovate Impact Media

Until recently, I thought I wasn’t an audiobook person. My mind tends to wander and I worried that I’d lose the plot and not be able to follow the book I was supposedly listening to. Then Walt and I went on a fourteen-hour drive and Amy Poehler kept us company with Yes Please, and I’ve been binging on audiobooks ever since.

In case you’re still afraid of diving into the world of audiobooks, are are my top ten reasons why audiobooks are awesome. In no particular order:

  1. You can read while doing other things
    With physical books or ebooks, I mostly read while waiting in offices, getting coffee, or in bed. With audiobooks, I can read while driving to work, working out, doing laundry, or baking up something tasty. When I was training for the Boston Marathon, I really looked forward to my long runs because they meant I could listen to the Tiffany Aching books for a few hours. Audiobooks have also been a fantastic way to get reading in while I’m walking Bodo, because I’m often out with him for at least forty-five minutes, which means so much reading time! Which means…
  2. You can read so many more books
    I’m getting so much more reading done this year because of audiobooks. Right now I’m on like 25% hard copy, 10% ebook, 65% audiobooks.
  3. Having a story read aloud to you is cozy and fun
    Remember when you were in elementary school and your teacher would do read alouds? Why don’t we get to do this as adults. Spoiler alert: audiobooks do that for you.
  4. Audiobooks are read by professionals
    Even better than your second grade teacher? Professional actors who know how to do the voices right and say all the words clearly. Also, sometimes audiobooks are read by the authors themselves, which I find really cool. (I just finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane written and read by Neil Gaiman, who’s got the best voice a writer could ask for.)
  5. You don’t have to carry anything extra
    Okay, so my purse is usually big enough to fit a book. But you can download audiobooks right to your phone/mp3 device, which you probably already carry with you.
  6. You can get them for free from the library
    Caveat: audiobooks can be pretty expensive to buy. They require all the normal work a book requires, plus paying a reader plus studio time plus sound editing/mixing. But you can borrow audiobooks from your local library, via programs like Overdrive or Hoopla.
  7. You might pay more attention to content
    I’m a fast reader, but sometimes that means that, when I’m really into a book, I end up reading too fast because I’m so excited and miss little bits of info or description. With an audiobook, I find myself actually paying more attention to particular phrases or pieces of dialogue.
  8. You can speed up or slow down as necessary
    Audiobook apps I’ve used let you adjust the reading pace to be slightly faster (if the reader is slower than you’d like) or slower (if you want to really appreciate every word) or slowest (to make the reader sound like they’re drunk, which can be hilarious).
  9. Audiobooks do count as ‘real reading’
    Don’t worry, you’re not missing out on ‘real reading.’ Whatever that is.
  10. It’s easier to get through those big books you’ve been meaning to read
    Earlier this year, I listened to The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which was fascinating, but also almost 600 pages long. It took a while to listen to, but it was so much easier to listen while doing other things and carry around my iPod as usual, vs. having to lug around a huge book or set aside time at the end of the day to read about how the tobacco industry lobbied against cancer research and blamed victims. (I know.) Having a copy on audio meant I could read more frequently and not feel like I had to set aside specific time for a serious book.

Bonus reason: I’ve been reading more nonfiction because of audiobooks. Maybe it’s because of the easier to carry around/easier to listen to longer stuff thing? No clue, but it’s working for me.

And in case you’re still not convinced, here are a few of my recent favorite audiobook reads:

Audiobooks you’d recommend? Favorite things about listening to stories? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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