I used to be fairly obsessed with music. It was my life. I still enjoy it, and listen to it regularly, but when I am driving or working out, I don't tend to listen to it as much. I know a lot of people can't comprehend how I can run to a book rather than a super fast song, but eh, I do. What I'm listening to doesn't affect how fast I run. Well, actually - if I am enjoying what I'm listening to, I run faster. This could be the P&P soundtrack, or a book, or Taylor Swift - when I started running I tried to listen to dance music and all the recommended 'running playlists' and I wanted to rip my ears off because I was bored. You have to do what is right for you, there is no right thing to listen to for everyone.
Every time I post about books, someone comments about how they wish they read more and I totally get that. The difference between me and you is most likely a social life, or other hobbies. I read, I blog, I cuddle my cats. You are most likely much busier than me, and struggle to find time to read, so... this is how you are going to do it.
- Distraction. Concentrate on the book rather than the traffic, what's on your mind, or the miles you are running. When I first started listening to audiobooks it was because I needed to do something with my mind whilst driving the hour to and from work otherwise I would think about KC and our breakup and get pretty distraught.
- You can't use books to track your run. When I run I normally think in kms. I know that roughly two songs (or a bit less) is 1 km. With miles, I know it's about 3 songs, unless a Meatloaf song comes on and then I'm thrown for a loop. With books, I can't do that and while it might be annoying to some, it is super helpful to me.
- Multi-tasking! You're doing something else as well as working out, or driving or whatever. Booyah. You're not taking up any extra time in your busy schedule.
- No skimming. I don't skim books on purpose. But sometimes, when I'm reading something like Emma and Miss Bates is going on and on and on and on and on, I'll skim. Or when someone uses a whole page to describe the rolling hills and pretty blue skies - skimmedity skim skim skim. Can't do that with an audiobook, which is a good thing for me.
- It's like watching a movie.. but not. Some readers are absolutely beyond amazing at bringing the characters to life. You know how you watch a movie and then read the book, or you know what actor plays what character and you can't help but view the character that way as your reading? It's like that, only better.
- No repeats. Maybe you have a zillion songs on your running playlist, but I don't. After a couple of runs, it's the same songs over and over and I get so bored and end up skipping. A book generally lasts me a couple of weeks, and there are no repeats unless I want there to be.
- Tackle that TBR list. If, like me, you have 600 books on your TBR list, audiobooks help tackle that list. At any given time, I am listening to a book, reading a real book, and reading one on my kindle. I don't expect you to do that of course, but you can at least do the audiobook. Reading when you don't have time to read!
- Longer books don't seem as long. Picking up Anna Karenina is daunting. Listening to it, not so much. It might take you a year to get through it, but that's not as scary as having 600 pages left. Or is that just me?
- Books are awesome. Do you need another reason?
On board yet? Here are my recommendations when it comes to audiobooks:
At first, stick to something that is your version of easy and light. I don't listen to sad books because I don't want to cry while running. I tend to listen to things like Harry Potter (Stephen Fry, not Jim Dale), The Sookie Stackhouse series, Jane Austen etc. An audiobook I really like is How to Win Friends and Influence People. Don't knock it till you've tried it.
Start with a favourite, or one you've read before. This might seem silly, but my favourite books to listen to are ones where I already know the story. HP, Jane Austen, Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) etc. After I had gotten comfortable with audiobooks, I branched out. You might not need to, but it's a thought.
Listen to the book on double speed. Find out how here. You have to make sure it is set as an audiobook and not a music file, which is easy to do. It might be too fast for you, but it's worth a shot.
Listen to the voice before buying. I have hated books because of the person reading them. I don't know why, but I tend to enjoy female voices more than male. When I was trying to get the Harry Potter books way back when, something about the voice bugged me and didn't fit with the characters in my head. So I got the Stephen Fry ones. Then, a couple years later I was listening to The Night Circus and I didn't enjoy it, and then later found out it was read by the same guy who did HP, and I think that influenced my opinion.
But where do you get audio books from?
Audible.com I like Audible, they have tons of books and how many you get per month depends on your subscription. They are normally running specials where your first book is free, so that's pretty cool.
Audiobooks.com is a flat $24.95 per month. While you're able to listen to as many as you like, these books are not available for download. Any audiobooks that you're reading show up on their website in your "in progress" list. If you're the type of person who only listens to a book once (like me, unless it's P&P), then this is the best option for you.
Update: Audiobooks.com is now $15 per book like Audible.
iTunes great if you don't want a subscription.
Librivox.org great for classics. Librivox only has audiobooks that are in the public domain, published before 1923 and with expired copyrights. Each work is read and recorded by a team of volunteers, and some novels are recorded with a full cast, much like a radio play.
Your library! My favourite for sure. Many libraries are now getting up to speed with the digital movement, so you don't even have to leave your house to get the your next audiobook. It's free, and if you're borrowing a digital book, you won't have to worry about returning it; when it's due, it won't be available to listen to.
Other websites that I haven't used yet but have heard of:
Loyal Books (previously Books should be free)
Lit 2 Go
Learn Out Loud (mainly educational)
And as with any shopping - compare prices before you buy! And 'preview' the voice to make sure it won't get on your nerves.
So, you gonna listen to an audiobook now? I have a ton on my computer so feel free to ask me because I might have the one you're looking for!