Audiobook popularity has been on the rise over the last decade and audiobooks keep becoming more readily available.
And audiobooks are an absolute gift for so many people who want more reading in their life but struggle to sit down with a physical book.
If you’re wanting to dip your toes into the world of audiobook listening, here’s the number one thing to know:
Audiobook listening is a SKILL.
Which means that likely you won’t be super good at it when you start and also, you can get better (much better!) at it with practice.
Here are some other tips to help you get into audiobook listening.
- Start with a book you’ve read before. When you’re first starting out with audiobooks, try picking something you’re familiar with, whether it is a book you’ve already read, a subsequent book in a series you’ve already started or a book you’ve seen a movie version of. It’s so much easier when you have a frame of reference to start with!
- Read a blurb about the book first. Similarly, if you’re starting an audiobook that you’ve never read or listened to, it can be wildly helpful to read the publisher blurb first (Amazon or Goodreads or the publisher site will almost always have them) – when I have that framework going in, I don’t have to work as hard to figure out what is going on or what characters are important.
- The narrator matters. Truly, a narrator can make or break an audiobook. I tend to like MOST narrators, but some people have extremely strong opinions about the reader and if that’s you, try listening to a sample on Audible first before you pick up an audiobook. And when you find a narrator you love, listen to more of their books, even across different authors. Julia Whelan and Jim Dale are hugely popular narrators. I have a particular love for Katherine Kellgren (her reading of My Lady Jane is unmatched!). Keep track of which narrators really make the book fun to listen to! Lots of listeners – me included – often love a book read by the author, especially if it’s a memoir. Was Greenlights way more fun because it was read by Matthew Mcconaughey? Absolutely it was.
- Change the speed. This is a game-changer for many listeners. The normal speed can feel really slow and make your brain wander. For me, 2x speed is just right and I listen to everything at double speed, but you can choose 1.25 or 1.5 or 1.8 or 3x speed! Play around with different speeds and see what works for your brain! (A popular trick is also to either speed up your audiobook super fast to 3x or 2x and then after 30 seconds or so, bring it back down to 1.5 or whatever speed you want to listen at and it’ll feel very manageable by comparison).
- Do something while you are listening. I almost never just sit down and listen to an audiobook. But I LOVE listening while I make dinner or fold laundry or organize a cupboard or work on a puzzle! Having my body or hands busy frees up my brain to focus on the story while I get necessary tasks done.
- Try full-cast audio. A full cast audio is a really delightful audiobook production often with music and sound effects and different narrators reading the different characters. If you haven’t tried one before, I have a bunch of favorites here!
- Use earbuds. Many people are better able to stay focused on an audiobook when they have earbuds in rather than it just playing on a speaker where they’re more likely to tune it out. These are my favorite earbuds!
- Give yourself a focused period of time to get into a new audiobook. When I asked for suggestions for how to listen to audiobooks, this was a VERY popular suggestion – so many people said that they needed 30-60 minutes of listening upfront to get into the story, get to know the characters and stay dialed in. But on the flip side, other people said, “Small chunks first. Listening for too long and my attention wanders.” So experiment a bit and see what works for you!
- Start with a physical book and then switch to the audiobook version. I don’t do this often, but it’s sometimes really helpful to get acquainted with the book on paper (especially if audiobooks are new to you!) and then switch over to the audio version a few chapters in once you don’t have to work so hard to learn all the characters, setting, and plot.
- Play around with genres. Everyone has different genres that work best for them on audio. Maybe for you it is thrillers. Maybe it’s non-fiction that feels more like a podcast. Maybe it’s a sweet romance. Don’t give up on audiobooks if the first one you try isn’t for you!
- Be okay with quitting an audiobook that isn’t working for you. Just like a paper book, an audiobook that isn’t working for you is just going to mean you don’t listen at all. I’m a huge believer in leaving behind an audiobook or book that isn’t for you so you can open up your schedule to something you’ll WANT to read!
- Get audiobooks from the library so it doesn’t feel like such a commitment. I love Audible (and have a whole post about Audible here!) but if using your credits feels like too much pressure, check out audiobooks from the library instead so you can send them back guilt-free if you aren’t a fan. Also, if you DO use Audible and pick something you don’t like, you can return it and get your credit back – details about how to do that here.
- Don’t look at your phone while you listen. The second I open Instagram or my email, my brain just fully tunes out the audiobook. (But I DO love playing a game on my phone while I listen if I’m on a plane or sitting by the pool while my kids swim – my current favorite is one called Water Sort Puzzle).
Any other favorite tips for how to listen to audiobooks especially if you’re just getting started? I’d love for you to share!
And if you have questions, please leave them in the comments and I’m happy to answer!