The Thing About Audiobooks

I’ve been participating in a book reading challenge on Twitter for the past 20 days. Each day is a different category of books read in 2017 that we share with others participating in this challenge. One of the days was Best Audiobook listened to in 2017 and then the following day was best Narrator. Myself and another Twitter friend ended up getting into a conversation about how we wouldn’t have choices for those days because we didn’t listen to audiobooks in all of 2017. I’m actually a step further because I don’t listen to audiobooks at all. A few of my Twitter friends found that to be a little shocking because  nowadays everyone loves audiobooks. It got me thinking about the reason why I just can’t bring myself to listen to them and I wanted to share those reasons today to see if there are other oddballs like me in the world.

The number one reason I don’t listen to audiobooks is because when I read a book, I imagine how the characters look based on the author’s description as well as how their voices sound. When you listen to an audiobook, at least for me, I no longer hear the voice I imagined. It’s a forced voice that’s now stuck in my head because that was how it was portrayed on the audiobook. Most audiobooks are narrated by one person reading the whole book. This is something else I cannot get behind. Just one, monotone voice with a few inflections of emotion here and there just sounds so boring! Listening to a book is totally different from listening to music or even a movie. Even with a movie you have a bunch of different voices and action and all kinds of good stuff. Music has a bunch of different tones and chords along with the singers. With a book, it’s just not the same.

Another reason I can’t do audiobooks is because I feel like I’ll get bored and just fall asleep. When you have a book in your hand and you’re turning the pages, it’s just something more exciting about that than sitting there twiddling your thumbs while you listen to your book. I realize most people multitask while they’re listening to audiobooks, like driving in the car or doing house chores but a book for me is supposed to have my complete attention and if I multitask while listening to a book, it’s highly probable I’ll tune the book out in favor of the task at hand. I’m usually pretty great at multitasking, in fact I listen to music while I write all my blog posts but if it was a book, again, just not the same vibe or motivation to listen closely.

I think ultimately if I were to take the plunge into the audiobook world, it would be a biography of a celebrity I admire. Mostly because they are usually the ones narrating their own book. For example, the actress Tiffany Haddish has a book called “The Last Black Unicorn” and I’m actually quite interested in listening to the audiobook instead of actually reading the paper book because I’ve seen her in plenty of interviews and feel I could listen to her talk about her life, in the words of her book, and it would actually grab my attention. Is it unusual that I can listen to an author of a book talk in their own words but I can’t listen to another person read an author’s book which is also in the author’s own words? Curious.

So what do you think about audiobooks? Are you an oddball like me and can’t bring yourself to listen to your favorite genre in audio format? Let me know in the comments below!

17 thoughts on “The Thing About Audiobooks

  1. Audiobooks have there advantages which you mentioned above such as being able to drive or do chores while you listen. However, this is also a disadvantage because we’re not able to truly focus on what we’re hearing because we have to share our attention. Audiobooks deserve the same attention a hardcover book would receive if we are to truly appreciate the story. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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  2. I’m like you, Nel. I CAN multitask and listen to audiobooks while doing something else like driving, chores and such, but when the ‘forced’ voice doesn’t fit with the voice I imagined – albeit vaguely -in my head, it can be quite a turn off for me. I had actually been successfully listening to audiobooks and I listened to at least 7 audiobooks. But ONE narrator, who narrated The Husband’s Secret, ruined my audiobook experience COMPLETELY. There was no salvage, I haven’t been able to bring myself to pick them again. The only genre I assume audiobooks would work is non-fiction, biography, memoirs and such. But disliking non-fiction generally, I think it’s highly-unlikely.

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  3. I personally love using Audible, but mainly because I can listen while cleaning, driving, or in the middle of the night which helps with my sleep. It’s hard to just sit down and listen to one though. I’m listening to The Christmas Carol right now, but I’m up doing stuff at the same time. It has its advantages for sure. Plus, I love that with audible you can speed it up or slow it down. Way better than listening to cd’s IMO! ❤ Great post, Nel. 😉🎄

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  4. I listened to my first audio book this past January when I drove to Florida. I have listened to about 4 in total. I listened to two wjile i was baking, doing dishes, wrapping etc. It is not my first choice though. I fo not think you are an oddball at all.

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    1. Hahaha yes! Sounds like you had some great multitasking going on there! I hope they were enjoyable books and I’m glad I’m not as odd as I thought!

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  5. I can honestly really relate to this post- I very, very rarely listen to audiobooks, because it’s hard to concentrate on them. And one of the reasons I don’t like to listen to them is because I like to imagine the voice (one of the only audiobooks I’ve listen to is actually Tony Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, because WOW her voice is just amazing!) So yeah I can see what you mean about why this would work better for a celebrity biography. Great post!

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    1. Yes! Exactly! I feel like listening to audio just completely ruins my imagination. Kind of like when Harry Potter movies came out and I had already imagined what they looked like as well as how to say their complicated names like Hermonie but now, I don’t remember what I imagined cause all I see is the movie people. Yes! Biographies make it different cause you want to hear the person talking who wrote about their life not some other random narrator.

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      1. Yeah I totally agree with you!! And yes I felt the same way about the Harry Potter movies (though I have to admit I was calling Hermione “Herman” and I have to say knowing the real pronunciation is an improvement there 😉 ) but especially agree on what they looked like- I still imagine Sirius differently- but at the same time Gary Oldman pops into my head. Yes for sure!!

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  6. I surprisingly enjoyed listening to an audible book. The only problem for me was that the reader did Hardy’s Tess of the d’ Urbervilles and the audible Bible I have so now the bible sounds like the characters in Tess.

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    1. Lol! 😂 See that’s something I would be afraid of! Once the voice is in your head, it’s hard to get it out. Thanks for visiting, reading and commenting 😊

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  7. I didn’t think I had the concentration for an audiobook. However, I decided to try one a couple of months ago. It was odd at first but I found it really useful while washing wares and folding laundry!! Plus it was one way to get through a book I had to review while not letting the chores pile up.
    It really makes a difference if the narrator is good or not. Some can do wonderful voices while others are just too monotone.

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  8. I definitely have mixed feelings about audiobooks. I have to listen to samples first because if I don’t like the voice it will annoy me. However, I do use them for reading books that are written in verse because I feel like it’s a more natural way to read the book (this goes for plays too). For example, I listened to The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri on audiobook. Another use for them is if I have to finish a book, but I’m really not liking it, because then I can do other things at the same time. I really like colouring or drawing whilst listening to audiobooks. Occasionally, they can also be quite good for really easy books because the audiobook isn’t hard, but in other cases it can make it easier to get through more complicated books.

    My biggest issue, though, is how much longer it takes me and I often find that if I really love a book, I want a physical copy as well and I end up switching between the two. Mostly, I have found that if an audiobook is really recommended I’ll give it a shot or if I’m struggling to get into a book, otherwise I will prefer to read the physical copy and I always buy a real copy of any of the ones I end up loving.

    I mostly use audiobooks when I’m on the bus, but then I also really like listening to music so the two have to compete. Another problem for me with audiobooks, is that I have to listen to them on headphones because otherwise interference from other sounds makes it hard for me to understand as I struggle to hear what people are saying if I can’t see their lips (left over from like 6 months when I was 4 and had to lip read + my dependence on facial cues etc.), but if I listen to an audiobook with headphones for too long I get a headache. Especially because buses are kind of loud so I have to make the volume higher.

    I will say that audiobooks are my favourite thing when I’m feeling ill because I can lie curled up in bed and not have to worry about holding a book or turning pages. I reread A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas whilst sick that way and enjoyed it, although it was super cringey and disturbing to hear the sex scenes read out to me, so I may have skipped those bits 😀 Definitely prefer to read those scenes in the privacy of my own head.

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    1. I can see where listening to verse or a play on audio for sure. Reading them is actually s little boring now that I think about it and I imagine would be so much better in audiobook.
      Switching between audiobook and pysical book is quite fascinating. I neevt thought about finishing a book I couldn’t get into that way but that’s a good idea.
      Yes I can imagine the sound interference if you’re listening to them out in public places. Those noise cancelling headphones would come in handy for sure but I’m also with you in that if I wear them too long they start to give me head pains.
      Oh god I can’t even imagine what A Court of Mist and Fury sounds like and I don’t want to, hahaha. The YA that’s not YA, ugh.

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      1. Yep. ACOMAF was actually pretty good to listen to for the descriptions of places and things but the sex scenes were more cringe worthy when read aloud. Plus the element of everyone being able to hear 😂😂

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