Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove, where today I want to talk audiobooks!
I listened to my first audiobook about three years ago. I wasn’t sure audiobooks were for me: I’ve always had a much shorter attention span when listening to a text instead of seeing and reading it, and a much shorter memory too. Yet somehow audiobooks work for me. I fell in love with them because they allow me to read and actually get things done in the meantime and in doing so they provide the ultimate escapism.
But to say they make me a better person is surely a stretch? Well, no. And here’s why:
I’m a worrier. You know the saying the devil makes work for idle hands to do? Well, for me, it’s idle brains that’s the problem. The second I’m doing something that I don’t really have to think about, like household chores, gardening, or even driving, my mind runs away with me. I worry about everything, and worried Kelly becomes anxious Kelly and anxious Kelly becomes snarky snappish Kelly and no one wants snarky snappish Kelly, including me! Enter audiobooks. They don’t allow my idle brains to wander off to dark places and roam around worst case scenarios. If I want to keep up with the story, I have to focus and there’s no time for worrying. It’s the magic solution!
Likewise, when I’m in bed and I’m supposed to shut down, my brain fires up and starts to overthink literally everything. Enter audiobooks. Focusing on the narrator’s voice helps me to calm down and stops me from conjuring up a dozen doom scenarios that keep me up all night. (Mind, the calming bit doesn’t work if the audiobook suddenly gets very suspenseful!)
I am also a very impatient person, I try not to be but most of the time that doesn’t work, AT ALL. I’ve found that audiobooks actually make me a little less impatient. Instead of getting annoyed at the slow driver before me, I just enjoy my audiobook a little bit longer. Instead of getting annoyed at myself for not completing a household chore faster, I’m happy that I get to listen to another chapter.
Over time I’ve changed my routine a little. I used to only listen to my audiobook on the go when I knew I had a lot of listening time ahead, like during my daily commute, or while doing household chores like ironing, or mopping the floors. However, a few months ago I had a very stressful time and quite frankly, I needed constant distraction, ‘cause every second I allowed my mind to wander triggered a mental meltdown, so I listened even when I had only a few minutes to spare. Things (and I) have calmed down, but the routine stuck and now I go through about twice as many audiobooks as before! Even little things you think won’t take long, often take longer than you think, and I’ve realised that listening to a book is the same as sitting down and reading one: if you’re waiting for a huge amount of interrupted reading time, chances are you won’t read a single page all day, but if you’re willing to read/listen in smaller chunks, by the end of the day you’ll have read/listened to much more than you thought possible.
Not sure whether audiobooks are for you? Here are some thoughts:
Find out what works for you! There are audiobooks in all shapes and sizes, don’t just lump them together, you might adore one book and hate another. Maybe you like a single narrator, or a dual narration, but there are also full-cast narrations, and even dramatizations, where you get little to no narration but lots of dialogue and even sounds, like a car door slamming or a phone ringing, it’s like watching TV without the actual images. Personally I’m not that much of a fan of the latter, because the background noises can be very distracting, but they do make the story come alive so if you think audiobooks might be kind of boring, dramatizations may be for you!
You might be one of the lucky ones whose library has an audiobook service, so be sure to check your library first! In Belgium, there’s no such thing and I mostly use Audible.
Whichever service you use, you can listen to a sample before you buy! Always do! It’s long enough to give you a realistic idea of the narration, and whether it’s for you or not. For instance, I listened to a sample of Attend by West Camel and decided not to buy it because the narrator spoke with a strong accent that I found difficult to understand. I’ve also refrained from buying audiobooks when I notice that the narrator doesn’t “do voices” and just reads the book, or when I don’t like the narrator’s voice at first listen.
You can adjust the speed of the narration! I’ve never listened to an audiobook without speeding it up at least a little. What I like about Audible is that the leaps are very small, allowing you to really customise the speed of the narration.
All the audiobook providers I know have a trial period, allowing you to listen to your first audiobook for free!
With Audible you can return your book if you’re not enjoying it. They’ll give you a refund so you can purchase another.
With Audible you get to keep your books, even if your subscription is terminated. I’m not sure about other providers.
Be smart about your (Audible) subscription! There are special discounts on a regular basis, keep an eye out and subscribe when the price has gone down. If you want to, you can terminate your subscription afterwards, Audible may even offer you a free credit, or an additional period at a reduced price to coax you into staying. As today is Black Friday, there should be some special offers, be sure to check your Audible app today! The week between Christmas and New Year’s is usually a great time for special offers and discounts too.
Audible gives you one credit per month that you can spend on any audiobook you want. However, there are also special deals for Audible members, like two for 1 (get two books with 1 credit), or books at a reduced price (2 or 3 pounds a book), and there’s also a daily deal, and special Audible non-fiction productions that are free to members (for instance Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets is very interesting and definitely worth checking out if you’re interest in the Victorian era!)
Short on credits? I often buy (discounted) books on the Kindle app and add the narration for a few quid. One credit (= 1 book) per month just doesn’t cut it and I can’t afford (can anyone?!) to pay the full price of an additional one, two, or more audiobooks per month. This used to make me feel a little guilty, because I wasn’t sure how much profit was in that for the authors, and I always felt like I was cheating the authors out of their money. However, I checked with Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books, and she assured me that it’s fine and I’m not robbing anyone ?
Interested in audiobooks? Be sure to check out Eline’s Lovely Audiobooks blog dedicated to audiobooks, and in particular her ultimate guide to free audiobooks! If you want to know more about audiobooks on Spotify, check out E.’s guide to Spotify audiobooks on her blog Local Bee Hunter’s Little Nook.
Thanks for joining me today! Do you listen to audiobooks too? Do you have a favourite? Or are audiobooks not your cup of tea? Tell me below! Or if you’d care to share your favourite audiobook provider, or perhaps a blog post or article I should read, please do!