Audiobooks – are they for you?

In the past, I have never really liked audiobooks because I like holding a book in my hands, turning the pages and going back and re-reading if I need to check something or savour the words again. I also like to imagine the characters voices myself.

However, sometimes needs must. Lately I have found myself driving up and down the A12, A14, M6 and M1 and countless minor roads between. I have been stuck in my car so much that my knees have forgotten how to unbend and I have listened to my music collection enough times that I need a break from it. So I decided to try audiobooks – that way I could get some reading done and feel less guilty about the tottering TBR pile waiting for me each time I made it home.

My first foray into audiobooks was Boy and Going Solo by Roald Dahl – these were recommended to me and both were excellent. I then tried The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. I was a bit dubious as to how this book would work out because it was long and complicated – but my doubts evaporated as I listened. I loved it.

I have now listened to one more book – Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry and am currently listening to The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Walk the Edge was good and I enjoyed it, but I am loving The Sun is Also a Star. In part it is the story, but it is also that the voices in the audiobook have enhanced the characters for me – they have helped me to see the characters even more clearly in my mind. The book has come alive.

As a result I have learnt a lesson – if you find a book you want to read and listening to an audiobook works for you then, before buying, you need to listen to a sample. If the voices don’t work for you, then the book will be a struggle and the story will be diminished. If they work – go for it.

I do still have some frustrations:

  • I get interrupted as I listen and sometimes I struggle to get back to where I was last listening to the story (but I think that may be me and not technology)
  • audiobooks are expensive and
  • not all books are available in audiobook format.

I don’t think I’ll be completely replacing reading books by listening to books, but I am glad I have found another way of accessing good books. For some readers, audiobooks may be the main way of accessing books. Being able to listen to books, rather than struggle with the written word on the page, might make reading enjoyable and achievable. So do think about it and check out the different ways of listening to books and the different price/points schemes available. You may find a book to convert you – or someone you know – to reading.

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