“Long before writing, people were telling each other stories and the audiobook goes all the way back to that tradition.” – Philip Pullman
I want to preface this by saying that in this post I am speaking from my own experience. The things I mention will not work for everyone and some things that I mention as pros or cons may be the opposite for some readers. I hope you enjoy seeing what my experience with audiobooks has been like so far!
I love listening to audiobooks when I’m exercising, doing chores, and on long or even short drives. I know people who listen to audiobooks at work and in bed before going to sleep. In my experience, audiobooks ultimately take less attention than reading physically and you can walk around while listening, providing a nice distraction while doing other things that are not mentally taxing.
2) Great Narration
A narrator that really gets the story and has unique voices for each character can really enhance the overall experience, even of a book that you’ve already read. I still love rereading The Kingkiller Chronicles almost annually in large part due to the fantastic narration by Nick Podehl. A good narrator is like a friend just reading you the story. A great narrator is like a parent enthusiastically reading their child a story with all the gusto and creativity that the story truly deserves. A great narrator not only reads the story to you, but adds an extra layer to the experience.
3) Reading Slumps Be Gone!
Audiobooks have been a huge boon to me when I just don’t have the time or energy to physically read. I would have read MUCH less in 2020 if it wasn’t for audiobooks. The fact that I don’t need to block out time for them, but can just fit them into my day, made for an effortless feeling when I didn’t feel like putting effort into reading. This helped me avoid or get out of many a reading slump during the last year and a half.
1) Learned Skill
– When I first started listening to audiobooks, I couldn’t seem to take in everything that was being said without intense concentration. I think in most cases, actively listening to a story, especially while doing something else like exercising or chores, is not something that comes naturally. Comprehension, especially in books as complex as epic fantasy, is not easy. How did I get past this you ask? Rereads! The first 4 or 5 audiobooks I listened to were books that I had previously read. I already knew the story and world pretty well so it was a really good way to train my brain in active listening and being able to enjoy the wonderful experience of a well narrated audiobook.
2) Subpar Narration
– As much as a fantastic narrator can enhance a story, a narrator that doesn’t work for you as a reader can really hurt your enjoyment of an otherwise great story. Unfortunately, this can’t really be helped and your best option to consume a story when encountering this is to switch to ebook or a physical book.
My favorite narrators so far
– Tim Gerard Reynolds (Red Rising Saga, Riyria, etc)
– Steven Pacey (First Law World, etc)
– Nick Podehl (Kingkiller Chronicles, Instruments of Omens, etc)
– Travis Baldree (Cradle series, etc)
– Jonathan Keeble (The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell, etc)
Ultimately, I love audiobooks and will continue to have one going basically at all times. I hope you enjoyed this post and that if you have not you will give audibooks a try!
“I love audiobooks, and when I paint I’m always listening to a book. I find that my imagination really takes flight in the painting process when I’m listening to audiobooks.” – Thomas Kinkade
David W says
Have to add Joe Jameson, Colin Mace, John Banks, Will Patton, Elizabeth Knowelden & Marc Thompson. Narrators can truly enhance novels and all of these genuinely do time and time again.
David S says
I still have yet to listen to Joe Jameson and all the others actually! I feel like my narrator library is so small still haha. It’ll get bigger and bigger as time passes as you are so right, it can really take a book to the next level!
David S says
Oh shoot I actually think I’ve listened to some Marc Thompson ones! I think Star Wars novels. Solid narration!
If I had an article about audiobooks, it would have been more or less the same as this. It’s probably a personal taste thing, but have you found that certain genres suit audio better than others? For example, I like suspense and horror on audio more so than fantasy or sci-fi. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but with novels that stress, say worldbuilding, I tend to drift off during these moments, and then it’s hard to get back on track when the plot kicks in again.
David S says
Yes I would agree. I have loved historical fic and I actually find Star Wars book highly entertaining because of the extra sounds the experience brings. But yeah, books with immense Worldbuilding can be hard to take in. I can think of one specifically, Legacy of ash by Matthew Ward, that really didn’t work for me specifically on audiobook because of how heavy it is on Worldbuilding in the beginning