They say the best stories are the ones you see on the radio. That is to say, when we hear a story, our imagination does the world building for us. I’ve been signed up to Audible for about a year now, and I’ve had a grand old time listening to a wide range of stories that have really captured my imagination, and enhanced my life overall (may as well be honest). The major advantage of audiobooks, IMO, is that you can listen when you’re on the move. They make long car journeys, or any sort of commute, tolerable, even enjoyable. If you’ve got physical work to do around the house, like organizing shelves or attacking a stack of laundry, listening to an audiobook makes the dreary task infinitely more pleasurable. [So pleasurable, in fact, that I listened to over 10,000 audiobook minutes in 2016. I got an email from Audible to let me know that I was one of their biggest listeners. Bit miffed I didn’t get a prize though.] And there’s really no excuse to be a TV loving couch potato anymore, now that audiobooks are available to us. You can saunter out for a two hour walk with Chelsea Handler, or Amy Schumer, or whoever your favourite comedian is (they’re all doing audiobooks now) in your ears. It’s like an auditory paradise, and it’s yours for the taking. If you’re tired of traffic updates, political debates that never seem to come to any conclusion, and radio jingles that make you want to chew your own face off, switch off that dial because there’s an audiobook out there waiting for you (entirely free from advertisements too! Sigh.)
If you’re new to audiobooks, or sort of ‘Oh, I don’t really know if that’s for me’ about the whole thing, here are some pointers for choosing the right audiobook for you:
- Choose something that is well paced, with a strong narrative thread. (These are often the books that are recommended through word of mouth, or described as ‘page turners’.) It’s primarily the plot that will keep you listening. Turgid tales with excessive, complex detail don’t translate well to audiobooks, because it’s simply too easy to lose your concentration. You’re likely to be carrying out other tasks while you’re listening, and if the story becomes heavy and morose, you’ll just tune out. (And you can’t just flick back a couple of pages to find your place, because this is not a book. Sure, you can re-start the chapter, or rewind a couple of minutes, but it’s not so easy to pick up where you left off.) My guilty pleasure is the true crime genre. I always want to know if they caught the killer, and how they went about it, and so I listen right to the end. You could try something by Ann Rule, America’s best known crime writer. You could consider audiobooks that are strung together by various anecdotes that work well on their own, such as those found in ‘The Best Advice I Ever Got’ by Katie Couric, ‘The Examined Life’ by Stephen Grosz, the personal essays of David Sedaris, such as ‘When You Are Engulfed In Flames’, and ‘If I Could Tell You Just One Thing’ by Richard Reed. It allows you to dip in and out of the audiobook, and not feel like you’re completely out of sync with a story.
- The narrator’s voice will make a big difference to your enjoyment of the audiobook, so make sure to listen to the audio sample provided before you make your purchase. My pet hate is a slow speaker. Oh God. I just wish they’d get on with it. (You can actually increase the speed of the narrator’s voice within the Audible app, but sometimes this sounds really awful.) There are plenty of well-known actors and public figures who’ve narrated audiobooks, and if you’re a fan of any of these individuals, you’re far more likely to commit to the story. People like Stephen Fry, Neil Patrick Harris, Joan Rivers, Leah Rimini, Jane Fonda, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling have all narrated their own autobiographies and/or novels written by other authors.
- The audiobook you choose is going to be your background noise for quite some time, so choose wisely. A story that gets into your head will have an impact on your mood and thoughts. If you’re having a rough time, you should think carefully about the kind of story that’s best for you right now. I listened to ‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand, about the story of Louis Zamperini, a man who went to hell and back, and lived to tell the tale. This is an astonishing story of resilience, and the triumph of the human spirit. You’ll experience the anguish and the terror, and you’ll come out the other end of it feeling transformed. The right story can revitalize us. Non-fiction self development audiobooks have their value too. If you’re preparing for an interview or a situation that’s going to test you, ‘Presence’ by Amy Cuddy could be the perfect choice: it’s about rising to any occasion with confidence, and doing yourself justice in stressful situations.
I firmly recommend audiobooks. Audible does a 30 day free trial and you can cancel any time.
I’m feeling rather sociable. Let’s connect on Goodreads!
PLUS: Why not read my terrifying novella, The Diary of Natalya Zlota, now available on Amazon!
People are saying, “The author captures you by letting you find things to identify with, and she unfolds details in perfect time…Smooth and disciplined, a pleasure to read! Perfect for a journey. I would love to read more.” Buy it now!