I do. If you’ve seen my goodreads profile, you’ll see I average around 100 books a year. And while most of those I read visually, through the medium of my kindle (I have a paperwhite and it’s amazing) or occasionally paperback, I also consume through audio.
I’ll admit, I was a bit snobby about audio when I was first introduced to it. I dismissed it as not ‘proper’ reading. Mind you, I felt like that about the kindle at first, but after a few books, I soon realised the medium didn’t matter, it was the story that was important.
Audio brings you a different experience of a book. I’ve tried non-fiction and fiction, new books and old favourites, and tend to find now that I choose audio fiction that I’ve already read and loved (for example, I have worked my way through most of the Terry Pratchett books, as well as many of Nora Roberts’). There’s something about having the book read to you that changes your connection with the words, and forces you to listen at the pace of the narrator.
The role of the narrator in an audiobook is pivotal. On Audible, reviewers not only review the book, but they review the narrator, who really can make or break an audiobook.
A good narrator can make you forget you’re being read to, and mean that the words go straight into your brain. It’s a different experience from reading, as the narrator brings new accents and life to the characters.
I’ve had an audible subscription since 2012, where I pay a set amount each month for a credit to choose any audio book they have. My choices can vary wildly – the last three I listened to were Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts, The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, and The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson. In fact, the hours I’ve consumed surprise even me – I just looked at the app on my phone, and found I have 124 listened-to books in my audio library, with a total listening time of…one month, one day, six hours and forty three minutes. (Holy moley. Lucky I multitask!)
If you’re new to audiobooks, and want to try it, you can have a free book with Audible to trial the app.
I’d recommend any of the following, which combine a gripping story with a talented narrator:
- The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill, narrated by Jonathan Keeble – dark, intense, and gripping
- Any Terry Pratchett read by Stephen Briggs – the hugely successful fantasy author wrote books that are are funny, clever, sad and thought-provoking – none of your average sword and sorcery here
- The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Rupert Degas – one of the best fantasy authors writing today, the prose in these novels is wonderful. You’ll be captivated.
- The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, narrated by the amazing Kobna Holdbrook – a met police detective gets drawn into a shadow London of magical creatures and powers. The diversity of characters and accents in these make them a pleasure to listen to, and a friend of mine who’s a Detective in the met police says it’s one of the most realistic depictions of the drudgery and bureaucracy and daily police life she’s read (just with magic!)
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, narrated by John Chancer – a disturbing and fascinating story about how humans might finally destroy our world, with twists and turns you won’t see coming.
The Vast World of Podcasts
I’m also a podcast addict. I’m subscribed to forty podcasts at the moment, and though I don’t listen to an episode of every single one each week, I probably listen to 20-30 episodes depending on the week.
These episodes vary in length from 5 minutes to 2 hours, and one productivity tip I can give you is to listen on 1.5x, or even 2x speed. It takes a little bit of time to get used to, but you can get through them more quickly that way. Of course, it depends on the podcast, and what I’m doing at the same time – for example, I’m writing this on an airplane, and earlier I went through an hour’s episode on 2x speed because I wasn’t doing anything else. But if I’m multitasking, that kind of speed can be too fast for me to absorb the information.
I listen to podcasts about all kinds of things, but in terms of absorbing stories, both fiction and real life, there are a few I’d recommend:
And while I haven’t listened to all of these, here are 25 more podcasts for readers if none of those take your fancy!
If you love books, and you love story, don’t dismiss the world of audio. We readers can be a little disdainful about anything that isn’t a physical book, but audio provides a way of reading when you commute, drive, wash up, clean, file, exercise, and in many more situations.
It doesn’t replace the act of reading. It just means you can consume even more books each year.
More stories….more worlds…more romances…more lives.
For a one-month free trial with Audible that includes two free books, click here.