Finding My Groove with Audio Books

Posted September 30, 2015 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Features / 27 Comments

Copy of Don't Be(1)-1

Despite the fact that I’ve been reading since before I could actually “read” (when I was a toddler I was quite fond of carrying around picture books and “reading aloud” to anyone who would listen, which is to say I would make up stories I thought went with the picture) I haven’t actually listened to an audio book until the last month. I started a new job which requires a 1.5 hour commute each way, and I cannot for the life of me read without getting motion sick. It was the perfect opportunity to start venturing into the world of audio books.

Scribd & Overdrive

The two most popular audio book services I had heard of were Scribd and Overdrive, so I signed up for both. Scribd is sort of like Netflix for audio books, and I was inspired to sign up after reading about how much success Lauren @ Bookmark Lit had with them. A subscription service, for a flat fee of $8.99/month you used to be able to get unlimited audio books. However, as of September Scribd is moving to a credit-based system (1 credit per month included, each additional credit another $8.99 charge), and while they will still have a selection of non-credit using books, the most popular books I’ve found I want to read always need a credit.

Overdrive is a free audiobook service that uses your library card to give you online access to audio books provided through your local library systems. I found out about Overdrive from a coworker mentioning it, and I was able to register online fairly easily and download the app on my phone. The app has more glitches than Scribd, but I think there’s a good selection for it being free (I belong to a few different library systems so I have access to a fair amount of books). Like any library, if the audio book is checked out I have to wait for it to become available (which is easy, as you can set it up to auto-check out to you as soon as it’s available).

It’s Not As Easy As It Sounds…

I was shocked to find that audio books were not the revelation I thought they were going to be. While I love that it fills up my dead time with something productive, I find myself getting easily distracted when I listen to them, and I realize I haven’t been paying attention the past few minutes and have to backtrack. The narrator can also really make or break the audio book experience. I listed to The Queen (A Selection Novella) by Kiera Cass and really found that I didn’t like the narrator’s style (I also find it sort of infringes upon my own perception of the characters’ voices, such as when you watch a movie adaptation and the characters don’t look like what you see in your head).

Another issue I run into that I find myself struggling to decide WHAT to listen to because I want to save the books I’m REALLY excited for to actually read traditionally. I’m a highly visual learner so I feel like I get the fullest experience if I read a book in the traditional format. So I save the books I’m so-so about or only somewhat excited to read for audio, which perhaps has led to my mediocre experience as well, since I’m listening to books that I may not be inclined to enjoy as much to begin with. I’ve been listening to Panic by Lauren Oliver via Overdrive, which is a book that falls into the “medium” tier priority on my TBR. I’ve decided to next try a book by an author I KNOW I love (Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot) to see if that improves my audio book experience.

Am I Beyond Convincing?

I know so many bloggers who use and love audio books, and who manage to keep up on their reading by listening to them during time that would other wise be under-utilized. Do you think that I can learn to like audio books, or was it a pretty instant decision if you liked them or not? Are there certain narrators that you’d highly recommend? Books that are BETTER in an audio format? Am I the only one out there who is (at least so far) underwhelmed by the audio book experience? If you’re a Scribd user, how do you fell about the move to a credit-based system? Do you have a method as to which books you choose to listen to rather than read? Let me know in the comments- I’m in need of your advice!

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27 responses to “Finding My Groove with Audio Books

  1. Honestly I am sad about the credit thing and sad that a lot of the books I planned to listen to were removed. I went on a huge binge before the credits started. I don’t think I will mind the credit issue as the semester gets busier. I mostly rely on them for the bus ride, before bed when my eyes are too tired to read, or mindless chores (sorting clothes or dishes). I also buy audio books off the the nook audiobook app when I have extra money. I think the narrator plays a big part in keeping your attention. I loved your post girly!

  2. I started audio when I started blogging. I use Audible but mostly rely on the library/Overdrive. I love listening to audio but sometimes a narrator or something doesn’t work and I find it hard to get through. There have been a couple of great ones – Ready Player One, Lunar Chronicles, Finding Audrey – where I think the audio might even make it better. I agree though that it is hard to decide WHAT to listen to. I tend to go for books that aren’t high on my actual to read list – so similar to you. Good luck with it and hope you find some that makes you love listening!

    Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog recently posted: Monthly Rewind ~ September 2015
  3. It took me about 6 months to really get into audiobooks. I kept finding books with narrators i didn’t like at all. I recommend you listen to audiobooks read by the author himself. Neil Gaiman’s reading won’t let you get distracted for example. Also, I’ve found that non-fiction books are perfect to listen to. Try Amy Poehle’s Yes Please. Happy reading!

  4. I love audiobooks, and I think I couldn’t survive without them. I have very little time to read, and sometimes I lack the energy, so getting my daily fix through audiobooks during my commute to and from work, really helps!
    In my case I was lucky to pick a great first audiobook, I think that is what sealed the deal for me, but I can see how you could’ve been turned off by them. It’s true it’s easier to get distracted, I do at times, when my head is filled with thoughts, and I have to rewind because I totally missed what was happening. Not all story are a right fit for audiobooks, but the narrator surely does help. A lot!
    My recommendations of good narrators are Luke Daniels, Michael Page, Sasha Pick, Jessica Almasy and Kate Rudd. My advice would be, keep trying. Once you find a truly engaging book, you’ll have no problem paying attention. Also, Brittany shared some recs as well, here: http://www.bookaddictsguide.com/2015/09/25/my-latest-bookish-addiction-16-audiobooks-again/

    Valeria @ A Touch of Book Madness recently posted: Bookish Truths: My Reading/Reviewing Process
  5. I adooooore audio books! Honestly though, it took me a long time to figure out exactly what I liked and what I didn’t and what worked for me. I thought I could just pick up anything and I had to figure out my preference in narrator. Sometimes I’ll start an audiobook and stop it because the narrator will ruin it for me and I can just tell!
    I re-read a lot on audio because it’s a new experience and a different way to experience the same book. But I also do a lot of initial reads on audio too. I try to go with books that have good narrators (that’s how I’ve been picking them lately) or authors I love. Linking up the audiobook post I just did to this comment because I added all my recs of narrators and books in the post! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide recently posted: My Latest Bookish Addiction [16] โ€“ Audiobooks (Again!)
  6. I think it definitely depends on the book or the narrators. I second Grace’s recommendation of The Lunar Chronicles on audio. They’re so good! I also recommend The Martian, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, anything read by Wil Wheaton or Jim Dale (especially the Harry Potter books).

    Give it some more time. Maybe you’ll find something better. I also recommend trying at least one book you’re super excited about. That may help with your focus.

    Kate @ Mom's Radius recently posted: Month in review: September
    • I’ve heard a lot of people really say that audio books just take time, especially finding a narrator that works for you! I think you’re right about trying a book I’m excited about, since the only ones I’ve tried are really ones that are middle prioroty on my TBR list.

  7. I’m a big fan of audio books, but that’s also because I hate doing chores. It’s SO much easier for me to make myself fold laundry or clean the kitchen if I know I get to listen to a story while I do it. Plus, it’s much faster than normal reading. However, I’m not sure I could pay attention if I had to sit still and be quiet while I listened, so maybe I’d have trouble with audio books while commuting too.

    • I actually haven’t tried audio books in any other situation aside from sitting still! Perhaps they’d work better to have in the background, but I feel that I may not may enough attention still, and end up missing things…I think rereading would work best for me in this scenario because then I wouldn’t have to worry about paying attention 100% of the time.

  8. If you’re ever in the mood to reread Harry Potter, I would recommend the audiobooks more than anything in the world. Jim Dale’s narration is nothing short of amazing and perfect and utterly spot-on to the characters! Most libraries have the audiobook CDs, which I’ve checked out in the past and loaded into iTunes, so I’ll have them forever! Scribd…sigh. I’m sad about the credit system, although $8.99 is much better than $15 for Audible!! I didn’t like audiobooks at first but it was purely a narrator issue. I tried We Were Liars and Lies My Girlfriend Told Me as my first books and they were super MEH. I highly recommend listening to the 30 second preview before buying the book, if you have that option. I think contemporary books are easy via audio because maybe you don’t have to be AS engrossed to really get what’s going on? I listen to audiobooks ALL the time so I’ll try to think up some other ideas that will hopefully help you out!!

    • I’ve tried mostly contemporaries and haven’t had much luck, although I think it might be due to the narrators more than anything, or from the constant dialogue not being very engaging (it’s funny how our perception of certain writing aspects change so much when we’re listening vs. reading!) I still really want to try the HP series because I’ve heard literally only good things about it, and I think perhaps I’ll enjoy audiobooks more as a reread since I know what to expect.

  9. I was introduced to audiobooks by my mom because she listens to them ALL THE TIME. I used to make fun of her because so many of the narrators were horribly annoying. But now I have a job that requires quite a bit of brainless work, so I like to listen to them! It is hard to find a good one, I find that they’re easier to listen to if they have more action – I listened to The Lunar Chronicles and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and they were great, but I tried to listen to the Outlander series and I couldn’t keep my mind on it for the life of me!

    I apologize for the ridiculously long comment… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Jordyn @ J. Bookish recently posted: October TBR!!
    • No worries, I love long comments! I appreciate your tip about finding audiobooks with a good amount of action, as all of the ones I’ve tried so hard are pretty dialogue heavy and therefore my mind finds itself wandering pretty easily! The Lunar Chronicles is one that I’ve heard over and over is great on audio, so I’m going to have to try it out!

  10. This was a really interesting post. I looked into audio books a while back and I just found that they were so expensive – more than I wanted to pay for the amount of books I could get and considering I wouldn’t be able to stare at them on a shelf later. There is getting them through the library of course, but I found the ones near me had a bad, almost non-existent selection.

    Overall, I don’t think I would get on with audio books. I listened to a few when I was younger and found my attention drifted, and like you, I feel like the narration infringes upon my own imagination and the way I view a character. I would probably also find myself avoiding getting books I really wanted to read because I wanted to have the physical book experience first too (I don’t think this is weird at all)!

    I think audio books could be awesome for rereads though, and you do certainly get through a lot more books if you use it the while travelling or doing chores! And we bookworms are always lamenting that there are too many books and not enough time.

    (Also, I feel your pain, I can’t read books when travelling either, it sucks!)

    • It’s literally horrendous not being able to read while traveling! I spend about 2 hours a day on a train commuting and that’s SO much time I could spend reading…

      Since writing this post I’ve actually cancelled my Scribd subscription because I found I really couldn’t engage well with the books, and they switched from unlimited audio books to a credit based system that only allows for one book per month for $8.99. While this is less expensive than other services and definitely less expensive than buying audiobooks outright, I think I’ll stick to using Overdrive through my library until I feel it’s worth the financial commitment. However, I have heard across the board that the Harry Potter audio books are amazing, so I’m going to have to give those a shot still!

    • I’ve heard a lot of people say that they like to listen to audio books when doing chores around the house and other mindless tasks, however I’m someone who usually prefers to do those things in silence so as not to get distracted and have it take even longer! Audio books may surprise you though, I’ve heard from a lot of people that it the level of engagement really varies on the quality of the narrator!

  11. I’ve recently discovered Overdrive, but that hasn’t managed to convert me into an audiobook lover yet. I agree with all of your points, particularly the one about becoming easily distracted while listening to audiobooks – I was getting worried that I simply had an abnormally short attention span!

    Olivia recently posted: Review: Angelfall
    • I was worried about the same thing too, so I’m really glad that I’m not alone! I usually am not someone with a short attention span AT ALL, but I think with audiobooks it’s more of a case of me being a visual learner and not as much as an auditory learner, so keeping my attention on someone talking for hours is a lot harder than reading pages for hours.

  12. Omg, I am working on a post just like this because I recently started getting into audiobooks when I picked up a second job that is farther away from where I live! ๐Ÿ˜€ Great minds think alike! Anyway, so I think my mind still wanders when I listen to audiobooks sometimes and I miss things that happen, but I am not so bad when I have an awesome narrator that I am listening to. I just did The Diviners by Libba Bray on audiobook and it was really good! So I am slowly learning to enjoy audiobooks so I don’t think it is always an instant like or hate scenario. So far I am just listening to audiobooks I snag from my library. I wish you luck in your future audibook endeavors. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Kay @ It's a Book Life recently posted: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
    • Thank you Kay! I ended up canceling my Scribd subscription because I just found I wasn’t utilizing it enough, and I couldn’t get my attention to hold. I want ton continue to try audio books, but I think I’ll stick to Overdrive for now until I can really commit to them. Interestingly enough, I thought I would do well with Audiobooks since I love listening to long radio segments like those on NPR; maybe I should try some nonfiction books!

    • I think that may be part of the problem with why I can’t get into audiobooks, the few that I’ve read have seemed (to me at least) to have narrators with rather cheesy voices! Like I’d personally rather them read in their normal voices as opposed to them trying to do “character” voices. I actually haven’t read Ready Player One (my boyfriend read and reviewed it on the blog) and I will keep that in mind since it’s on my TBR as well!

  13. […] So this year, with having my first ever Kindle, I didn’t borrow ANY physical copies of books from the library. This has been a game changer for me and caused me to use the library even more than I did in 2016 when I was using Overdrive solely on my phone because it cuts out the need to drive to the library, worry about due dates, etc. I also tried an audio book and actually finished it (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) but I think this was largely due to Max and I listening to it in the car together during a long car trip that motivated me to continue on with it, since we all know I don’t have the best track record with audio books. […]

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