I feel like audiobooks are the best way to get in more reading when your life doesn’t leave a lot of room for lying in bed with a book for hours at a time.
Over the past few months, I’ve been listening to more audiobooks than ever while I work in the garden or make dinner while the girls play outside and it feels SO GOOD.
But if you haven’t listened to audiobooks before, it can seem like a totally different world from the print book world.
If you’d like to get started listening to audiobooks, here are a few of my best suggestions for making it easy on yourself to make audiobooks a part of your routine and get through a lot more books than you might otherwise:
5 Tips for Listening to Audiobooks
- Start with something easy. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: listening to audiobooks is a skill. When I was first getting into audiobooks, I checked out a lot of middle grade fiction and chick lit since I could keep track of it better. I also listened to books I’d been meaning to re-read for ages. Don’t kill yourself trying to start with The Brothers Karamazov (37 hours anyone?). Otherwise, chances are good that you’ll listen for thirty minutes, and never pick listen to another audiobook. And that would be too bad.
- Also, pick something short. You know how Dave Ramsey says to pay off your smallest debt first because it gives you a little boost of accomplishment that helps you gear up to pay off a bigger debt? That’s how I feel about audiobooks too. I listened to The Nightingale a few years ago, which was excellent, but I’ll admit when I saw that it was 17 hours long, that felt a little intimidating. On the other hand, I saw The Crossover pop up when I was browsing through audiobooks and I remembered that I’d been meaning to read it since it won the Newbery. It clocked in at 2 hours and 16 minutes, and I pounded through it in a day and a half, and that felt really good. It’s nice to get a few successes under your belt before you put your head down and plow through a 25 hour long audiobook. (On the flip side, if you find a narrator and story you love, it’s really nice to know your listening needs are covered for a couple of weeks – my library in Texas closed for a month one year for renovations, so I checked out Homecoming and Dicey’s Song and loved every second of them).
- The narrator matters. I’ve listened to many books where I thought, “I’m not sure I would have liked this if I’d read a paper copy,” and other books where I finished and thought, “Should have read this one instead.” There are so many great narrators out there and it makes a good book even better. My all-time favorite narrator is Katherine Kellgren and I was devastated by news of her death a few years ago. If you don’t love a narrator, make your life better and pick something different.
- Speed it up a little. I think one reason I struggled with audiobooks is because they’re just usually quite slow. I like to listen at 1.5 or double speed, depending on the narrator, and that helps it be more like a conversational pace, rather than a “put me to sleep” pace. Some platforms like Audible actually go up to triple speed – when Bart was driving back and forth between Las Vegas and Phoenix during an internship in 2014, my parents gave him an Audible gift subscription and he listened at triple speed on every drive, which meant he was getting through about 30 hours of audio every weekend (not even counting his daily 80 minute commute during the week). I’ve never listened that fast, but he said it really wasn’t that big of a deal. If you try 3x speed, let me know.
- Listen while you’re doing something mindless. Just sitting down to listen to an audiobook is likely to make you feel antsy. Instead, listen while you’re driving, folding laundry, going for a run, or doing dishes. It’s amazing how much more willing I am to do dull chores when I have something delightful to listen to!