Thanks to the recommendations of Kaitlin @ Mismatched Reader and audiobook recommendations from the Audiobookworm, I decided to try audiobooks! I have a few reservations against audiobooks–I still do–but I’ve never actually listened to one, so I thought I’d give it a try. I wanted to try one new read and a book that I’m familiar with, so I decided on Sleeping Giants (based on Kaitlin’s recommendation) and Eleanor & Park, which I was recently reminded of and wanted to reread (even though I already rereviewed it this year. Can never get enough E&P ^-^)
I’d say the easiest way to start getting into audiobooks for free is to do it through your local library. I can’t speak to Audible experiences, but I ended up getting E&P and Sleeping Giants from my library, and it worked out pretty well. As far as I can tell, the most popular service for library books is Overdrive.
It’s easy enough to get set up with an account through your library card. I’m still figuring out the process of borrowing and getting holds on books, but so far, I like the way the interface is set up. There are different reading speeds that you can toggle, and you can download that software onto a drive so it doesn’t take up room on your computer.
General Pros and Cons?
Flexibility. Most people go to audiobooks because they’re easy to listen to and do something else. If you want to listen to an audiobook at night, Overdrive has a feature where it’ll turn off after a certain time, so you don’t have to worry about your vision going fuzzy on small print or falling asleep on your books.
Different aspect to the story. It’s one thing to envision the characters a certain way, but it’s a completely different thing to listen to someone speak and really hear that person. I’ll go over that a bit more in my experience section.
Multitasking. This flows within flexibility, but audiobooks are perfect for working with mundane tasks. With software like Overdrive, it’s easy to pick up where you left off on any device.
Availability. This is technically also a con, but part of what I really like about audiobooks is that there are so many to choose from and they’re almost always ready instantaneously for easy listening. Sure, there are books I wanted to listen to that aren’t out in audio yet, but there are many that are.
Community. Audiobooks often have communitites online that discus tips, tricks and reviews of audiobbooks. This is also something that is also prominent in normal book reading (book clubs etc) but because it is online then it doesn’t just need to be your neighbours you discus with, it’s the whole internet community. Take this audiobook blog for example, https://audiobookhoarder.com/, which deals with everything audiobook.
Somewhere in this experiment, probably when I opened the audio file for the first time on Overdrive, I realized that it was going to take a really, really long time to get through even just one book. That’s a turn-off for me. In my situation, as a student and as a reasonably fast reader, it doesn’t really make sense. I can see it working for long car rides or commutes, but not in many other situations.
It doesn’t feel like reading a book. Audiobooks are in a category all their own. While listening to a book that you really love can provide a dimension to that book that you haven’t seen before, it still doesn’t feel like reading that book. There’s no holding it within your hands and thinking about the words, and I couldn’t truly get lost within the world of the book when I was listening to E&P and Sleeping Giants.
I decided from the beginning that I wanted to try a book near and dear to my heart and a book I was completely unfamiliar with, so I could compare and contrast the two experiences. This tactic was pretty revealing, as what I loved about one audiobook, I disliked about the other.
Sleeping Giants worked for me. It worked phenomenally well, actually, for two main reasons.
- Character voices. I had zero expectations when it came to Sleeping Giants, but I had every expectation going into E&P. I’d already listened to Sleeping Giants, and E&P is a book that I’m pretty familiar with because of my rereads. With Sleeping Giants, I could perfectly envision the characters, each with his or her own voice, but I could never think of Park sounding the same as the narrator.
- Format. I don’t do interview style in books. I just don’t. It’s not my thing. It was barely my thing in Illuminae, and that’s just about it. Traditional storytelling is how I like my novels. But Sleeping Giants is almost entirely told in interviews, and it was great for the audiobook format. It was like the perfect mesh between envisioning a book and hearing a movie. On the other hand, Eleanor & Park is written as a first-person, multi-POV, traditional novel, and the format didn’t appeal to me as much.
I think the most important point to make is that just because you like reading books doesn’t mean audiobooks are right for you. They’re different forms of media, and they shouldn’t be thought of as being intertwined. If you have a long commute, or just want to experience a different side to storytelling, then I would highly recommend audiobooks. On the other hand, if you’re a really fast reader and enjoy the feeling of holding a book in your hands, I wouldn’t recommend audiobooks. For both cases, I would recommend that you try them at least once. I’m glad that I did, and I’ll be looking into them more in the future.
If you do end up trying audiobooks, I would give the following advice:
- Start with a book you haven’t read yet, maybe something that’s on your TBR that you haven’t looked at in a while that you’ve been meaning to get to or a book you’ve heard is great in audio.
- Schedule out a time to listen to your audiobook. This will be easier for some and harder for others. If you don’t have a dependable chunk of time you can listen to them, get the Overdrive app on your phone and listen to it whenever you’re waiting in lines or just have a bit of free time.
- Try out different speeds. It was fun to listen to Sleeping Giants on different speeds because it ends up changing the listening experience.
- Don’t expect it to be exactly like a book. As I mentioned earlier, audiobooks stand on their own. It’s a different kind of experience to listen to them, so it’s better to go in with an open mind than an idea of what it’ll be like.
Have you tried out audiobooks? What it was like?