5 Reasons Why I Keep Coming Back to Audiobooks

Audiobook Week

My friend Jen over at Devourer of Book is hosting Audiobook Week this week.  Those of my readers who are also bloggers, or who are heavy blog readers, probably have not been able to miss this big celebration of the spoken book.  I have to admit that I have been watching and reading all the posts with some fascination.  There are such a wide variety of  ways that listening to audiobooks is perceived and interpreted, to which I had given very little thought.

For me audiobooks have always been a means to an end – to have an experience of a book – so I had  never really given much thought to whether I had actually “read” the book  not.  It really makes no distinct difference in my mind – if I have listened to a book then I have “read” it, but I do see that the way that a book is experienced can be a big influence on how enjoyable I find it to be. There are books that I have enjoyed in audio that I am pretty certain that I would not have liked quite so much on the printed page, and likewise books that I would have enjoyed reading, which suffered in narration and delivery.

But those things aside , and whether it will mean in the end that I have “read” a book or not, here are the top 5 things I think of when I think of the joys of “reading” audiobooks.

  • Being read to is relaxing. My mother read to me when I was a child and it was futile to resist.  At some point I was going to go down..into sleep that is.  This is a bit of a con when you have to keep rewinding to figure out what you missed, but some of the best sleep I have ever had is when I was trying to stay awake to do something.  I figure if I fall asleep while listening, what’s the harm?  I just have an opportunity to catch up on some zzzs that I probably needed.
  • Audiobooks and a bit of multitasking are accepted… and expected. In the days and weeks that I am listening to an audiobook, especially a good one, my apartment is never cleaner, I am never fitter, and errands are never dispatched with more cheer, enthusiasm and good will.  It’s amazing the shine that listening to an audiobook will give the bathroom, the kitchen floor, the appliances…the cat.
  • Improved listening skills and attention to detail. It’s amazing how little practice people get in actually listening.  I know we listen all the time, but in a conversation, I expect that most of us spend more time waiting for the opportunity to say something and while waiting, figuring out what that something might be.  When listening to an audiobook, there is no moment that you need to prepare for, nothing to say.  There is no jumping in to interrupt.  You have to pull your mind back to focus on listening or you get lost in the story and have no idea of what is going on.  This kind of paying attention is a useful skill to transfer over to everyday conversations.
  • It’s fun to take notes sometimes. Most of the time I have to be doing something like cleaning to keep me focused on not falling asleep (see above), or to keep myself actively listening (also see above), when I am listening to an audiobook – otherwise I can be very easily distracted.  But, there have been those times when I have really enjoyed sitting and giving myself over to jotting down names and important details, actively noting down patterns and themes, doodling, and just otherwise pretending to be scholarly while listening to an audiobook.  I had a very good time thinking that I was uncovering all the hidden meanings in The Wizard of Oz, as I listened with pen and paper clasped tightly in hand.  I never did anything with my careful and copious notes, but it was fun.
  • Pronunciation. Few things bring me more joy than coming across a word in an audiobook that I know I have seen before but did not know how to pronounce.  I am then obnoxious in my overuse of said word so that I can fully get the hang of it.  For real though.  I’m not even playing.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

Be sure to to check out the Audiobook Week posts if you haven’t done so already.  There are some great ideas and reviews floating around, and Jen is giving away a lot of stuff!

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  1. Yes! Agree with everything you said. To me, there are so many virtues of audios that I even forget some of them. One thing I almost never do though is take notes. Contrary to the printed word, audio reviews come completely from memory and the heart…I rarely use quotes. Gets a little tricky with Gabaldon’s 50 disc books!

    1. I agree Sandy that audiobooks can be more response related than other reviews. I probably have only taken notes a few times, on a couple of books. I liked the experience because I could focus while sitting down. If I just sit and listen my attention span is short and my mind is all over the place. More often that not I do what you do.

  2. I don’t take notes while listening to audio books because I’m always doing something else at the same time. I have been known to clean a little longer because I didn’t want to stop listening, so I can totally relate!

    1. I have taken notes on a few books, but usually I am cleaning. And I have spent more time that I otherwise woud because of audiobooks.

  3. I guess being read to really is relaxing…never even realized it. That’s probably one reason why I look forward to my ride home at the end of the day. I don’t take notes while listening to audiobooks because I only listen to them in the car. But that’s ALL I listen to in the car! I told my husband that I will probably not renew my satellite radio subscription this summer because I just don’t use it.

    1. You sound like me with cable tv. I found that it made no sense for me to spend the money when I didn’t watch tv that much because I was always reading. The shows tat I was following were offered online.

  4. Great list! I like the last one… I need to practice that more! There are some words I have read over and over in books and looked up in the dictionary a million times but for some reason I can never really retain the definition!

    1. I know. When I see an unfamiliar word and actually look up te definition, there are very few that I actually retain. sometimes they just aren’t practical. But some do stick.

  5. I agree with your 5 reasons. I hadn’t thought of pronunciation but it’s so true. My husband and I were reading a book together – he in print and I in audiobook – and it made such a difference when it came to writing the book review and in discussion. I’d heard the names in the audio but when I looked at them in print, I would never have been able to pronounce them without the audio.

    1. I am always especially excited when I come across a word that I have been struggling wit the pronunciation for awhile. It’s such a relief to have a little bit of confidence in saying something.

  6. Those are all really good reasons. I especially agree with relaxing and multitasking. I tend to listen to audiobook most while I’m driving, when I get to do both. I hadn’t thought about how they make us better listeners, but you’re right!

    1. When I first started listening to audiobooks I was appalled by how difficult for me it was to actually sit and just listen, and I felt like I retained less. It’s definitely a skill and one that I wasn’t used to practicing, and judging from the way a lot of people mention the attention thing I guess a lot of us have that issue. It’s very interesting.

  7. I’ve just never been able to get into audiobooks. My mind wanders too much when I listen to them. I’ve heard that David Sedaris does a great job narrating his stuff so I’m going to give him a try.

    1. Maybe his will be more like listening to stand up comedy! I think it is best to go for something really engaging the first time around.

      1. I listened to The Swan Thieves. I know you liked the book but in audio format it was dreadfully slow. I am hesitating even posting my review!

        1. I think that would have been a tough read for me in audio. For that one I would definitely want to be able to read myself, in my own voice and pace. And it was a kind of slow and thoughtful novel anyway. Have you read The Help? You can’t go wrong with that one in audio.

  8. Though I favor reading a book to an audio, I do love listening to a book when I drive. And I so agree with your point regarding pronunciation. This is a terrific post, Nicole!

  9. Housecleaning is the way to go for me, but I should try to just sit and listen and take notes. At least once to see how it is! I agree with all of your points. Reading all of these posts is making me think that as audiobooks become more popular, the quality of narration is going to get even better. I’ve heard a lot of raves about the audiobooks of some recent bestsellers.

    1. I don’t do it that often (take notes) but it is a fun change of pace. I do love to be able to vanquish housework with it. I have been fortunate in that most of the audiobooks I have listened to have been well narrated, but the market for it can only improve as they get better and more engaging narration.

  10. I keep trying to convince my partner to read to me, but it’s failing. Audiobooks are definitely a good substitute! 😀

    1. One of my friends does the same with her partner and she mentioned that they love it. It can be slow to get through a book because they take turns and her partner usually falls asleep pretty quickly. but they keep at it. I think they are reading Love Walked In.

  11. This post have made me think twice about listening to audiobooks. Up till now I have largely avoided this, with one exception. For a six-hour drive from my home to my parents’ home for the holidays, I listened to Eat Pray Love. I do like listening to speech, as oppose to music, while driving long distrances, and for that drive I deliberately choose a book that I otherwise had no intention of reading (it was before the book became a huge bestseller). One question, does the voice reading the book ever change how you perceive the book? It seems that audiobooks would work well for nonfiction, but I’m less sure about fiction.

  12. Great list! Multitasking is a big part of why I love audiobooks. I don’t know how I’d get through some of the more boring household tasks (which *aren’t* boring?) without a book. And the pronunciation part is also a big draw.