AudioBook Listening – Here’s The Rules!

Miriam Parker

Back when I told you that Jen from Devourer of Books was hosting an audiobook week for June (Audiobook Month), I also promised that I would update my thoughts on audiobooks. I still really like them, but my listening to them has gone way down from last year because after engaging in something relatively new, I now have thoughts that guide what I listen to – mainly mystery, horror and lighter fiction.

I find that I am very easily distracted while listening more than I am when reading, so I need to be listening to something where it’s not the end of the world if I miss a sentence or five. The latest audio that I listened to where this wasn’t even as in issue was The Monster of Florence – true crime, I was absolutely terrified and slept with the lights on for two days.

Since my recommendations are pretty paltry at the moment, I recruited my friend Miriam Parker (Marketing Director, Mulholland Books) to give her views on just which audiobooks are the best listening experiences. Take it away Miriam.

I’ve listened to a number of audiobooks in my time, both in cars and on headphones and I’ve come to a few conclusions about what makes me happy in an audio experience.

1.       Comedians make the best readers, even if what they are reading isn’t funny. Case and point: Born Standing Up by Steve Martin is actually quite a melancholy book, but he reads it so well, that it is completely captivating.

2.       Used up all the funny? Choose a British reader. I “re-read” all of Jane Austen’s books and fell in love with The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark following this rule.

3.       Books that might be repetitive in print make fantastic audiobooks. I can’t tell you how many times Tom Wolfe describes the various ways that universities cater to high-profile basketball players in I Am Charlotte Simmons, but it made for fascinating listening. I had a “driveway” moment almost every morning when I got to work.

4.       There’s nothing like a pithy essay to make an audiobook stand out. Some of my favorites include Me Talk Pretty One Day, America (The AudioBook) and anything by Bill Bryson. I almost crashed my car (in this context, being that I no longer drive, take this as a compliment) when listening to I’m a Stranger Here Myself because it was so hilarious (and spot on.)

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 What Do You Look For In A Review?
Now I just have to get Miriam back her so that she can explain to me what a “driveway” moment is.

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      1. I’ll have to take up some of these suggestions, but I can see how comedians work–they know their material and how to say it. Certainly works for (not a comedian, but hilarious nonetheless) David Sedaris, who is my all-time favorite audiobook reader.

        (And Monster of Florence scared the heck out of me reading it–I wouldn’t dare listening to the audio on account of it)

  1. Miriam will have to explain her definition of “driveway moment” but I think it’s similar to mine, when you are so into the story that you sit in your driveway listening even thought you’ve already arrived home. I had to stop listening to audio books in my car because of missed turn-offs, “driveway moments” and just lack of attention! Feel safe, I now only listen to audio books at bedtime. But I also can’t listen to horror or suspense or I can’t get to sleep either. 🙂

    1. Ahh… I get it. Except for college, I have always lived in New York and traveled on the subway. The driveway thing went right over my head.

      1. My driveway moment with I Am Charlotte Simmons actually happened in New York! I would get to my desk at work and not want to turn off my iPod. I think I learned the term from Ira Glass in one of his NPR Pledge Drive speeches. I have, however, also had a driveway.

  2. Audio Book is more interesting an entertaining then physical book. audio book provide more flexibility to listen audio book in any where and any time is too good thanks

  3. I have issues with comedians on audio — often when a comedian has taken a stand-up routine and turned it into a book and then into an audio it fails for me because a lot of the humor in stand-up is physical — facial expressions and gestures.

    I am lucky that I have no problem listening to almost any other genre on audio.

  4. I agree with everything she said! Sedaris totally cracks me up, especially in Me Talk Pretty. I often have to stop walking so I can have a belly laugh when I’m listening to him. I also think that as you listen to more and more audios, you find narrators that soothe your eardrums. They just have a pleasant voice, and you will find yourself seeking them out. Simon Vance is a great example, Janice Scott Card, Julia Gibson, just to name a few. I will listen to anything they narrate, I don’t care what it is.

  5. This may sound crazy, but I can only listen to audio books that I have either read before or don’t care much about “reading”. If I really want to read a book, then having someone else’s voice in my head kind of ruins it. And like you, sometimes I am more easily distracted when listening an audio book, much like when I’m listening to someone give a speech.

  6. I haven’t (yet) listened to any of Miriam’s picks, but I’ve added them to “the list.”

    Love the term “driveway moment!”

  7. I am limited in where I can listen to audiobooks. I do best when commuting but can sometimes listen when cleaning. If I’m really into a book and don’t want to stop I’ll turn it on on my laptop and just sit and listen. That is rare but it happens from time to time. No matter what I have to be able to concentrate on it, I can’t have it on during work or while writing reviews.