Readers Share Their Audiobook Experiences

In the March 15th Bookreporter newsletter, Carol Fitzgerald talked about listening to Simone Gorrindo’s upcoming memoir, THE WIVES. When an author writes a memoir, she enjoys hearing it in their own words. So she was curious about how our readers have adapted audiobook listening in their lives. We received so many wonderful replies that we decided to make a blog post out of it. Many thanks to all those who told us about their audio experiences!

Angela H.
I became an audio listener years ago when my son convinced me to listen to books while I was walking at the mall so that it would be less boring. It was amazing how much longer I could walk when I was being entertained by listening to a book! I remember my very first Audible experience was listening to THE GOLDFINCH, which necessitated a lot of steps! Since then, I continue to enjoy Audible, except that every three books I read a hardcover for the pure pleasure of holding a book and turning the pages. That is still my favorite way to experience a book.

Beth O.
I’m new to audio listening (turning 60 soon). I enjoy listening on solo car trips, while completing mundane chores around the house, and while walking.

Beth S.
I started listening to audiobooks during the pandemic when I would go for long walks by myself. (I also walked with my hubby, but sometimes I just needed some time to myself!) I enjoyed it so much that I started incorporating audiobooks into my life when I was making dinner, doing chores or exercising. It really gives me the motivation to exercise or do unpleasant chores if I can listen to a good book at the same time! Now that I am working in a hybrid situation, it makes going into the office less painful to spend some of the commute listening to audiobooks or podcasts. I also have many e-book/audiobook combinations, so I can listen or read depending on the situation.

Daryl E.
I have been listening to audiobooks for many years — first with tape cassettes, then CDs, then Playaway, and now I download them from the library. It’s great to listen to a book while I knit or crochet or needlepoint. I get to do two of my favorite hobbies at the same time!

Deb J.
Audiobooks have changed my reading experience. Since my retirement, I have more time to read, of course, but not much time to sit down with a good book. So I use audiobooks while cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, driving and sitting at the pool. I have developed “relationships” with favorite narrators. I pore over AudioFile magazine for recommendations. If I am reading for my book club discussions, I often purchase the print copy along with the audio format.

Deborah B.
My mom, who soon will be 95, was an avid reader. I installed reading lights over her bed so she could enjoy reading long into the night. We visited the local bookstores weekly to stock up on books. In 2013, Mom suffered a heart attack; she had a stent installed and was put  on blood thinners for two years. The blood-thinning medication greatly exacerbated her macular degeneration, which had been manageable for years. But when I took her to see her eye doctor, after complaining that she thought she needed new glasses, he woefully told her that there was nothing he could do for her and referred her to the Braille Institute.

There we were introduced to the world of audiobooks, but because these were free and the  reading of the books was like listening to paint drying due to the uninspired narrators, I visited the local Barnes & Noble and stocked up on a slew of audiobooks on CD, which she would listen to through her Bose system. They changed my mom’s life and gave her back the enjoyment of books. She listens throughout the day and night, and we now have about 1,000 books in our collection.

Mom enjoys listening to the male narrators as she finds a lot of the female voices too, what she calls, “childlike.” This, of course, has limited her selections as a lot of the mystery and romance books are female-narrated. We look forward to your Bookreporter newsletter. I go through the selections, and she listens to excerpts on Amazon or Audible to see if she likes the reader. We download her selections, and she listens to them off her oversized iPad so she can see the start and stop arrow.

Life is good!

Deborah M.
I always have an audiobook keyed up. I listen while driving (even on short trips), walking and cleaning the house. There are certain books and types of books for which I always buy the audiobook: William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series, Robert Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite series, Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, and Viola Shipman’s books. I seldom, if ever, listen to nonfiction. I am grateful for audiobooks because I know that, as I get older and my vision is failing, I still will be able to listen to books. The one downside to audiobooks is the price, which you can mitigate if you buy a subscription or your library has audiobooks to borrow.

Ellen B.
I started listening to audiobooks a couple of years ago to help pass the time on multi-day car travel with my husband. We settled on our mutual love of travel and history to pick books (OUR FIRST CIVIL WAR by H. W. Brands, LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI by Rinker Buck, THE RIVER OF DOUBT by Candice Millard, AMERICAN RAMBLE by Neil King, THE REVOLUTIONARY: SAMUEL ADAMS by Stacy Schiff).

Now I listen to audiobooks regularly — when I’m in the car by myself, on daily walks, when sewing or doing house chores. It helps pass the time and has really upped the number and scope of books I read. The Libby app from my library is my go-to source, though I have picked up a couple of longer books (DEMON COPPERHEAD, for example) on Audible because I wasn’t sure I could finish the book in the two-week Libby window.

Gina T.
I remain an avid print reader, usually reading at least two books at the same time. I don’t enjoy e-books, but audio has been a game changer!

I have a 45-minute commute each way, and audio has been my companion on these rides. I have found that I enjoy listening to certain books that I wouldn’t necessarily read, and vice versa. The audio narrator is crucial. If I don’t like the voice or style, I won’t listen to it. I have learned to look for certain readers, and I know I have a good probability of enjoying it if it features them. A cast ensemble and the author as readers are usually excellent. Now that spring is on its way, I have been listening to audiobooks as I am getting my garden prepared or while doing chores around the house.

I have a few audiobooks that I purchased (I usually get them through the library), and I listen to them when I need comfort. We never lose the ability to enjoy listening to a really good story, regardless of our age. I also pay attention to audiobook performance recommendations, and I will check them out.

What I have noticed is that if I am reading a book for my book club, I can’t listen to it. I must read it in order to remember all the details well.

Jean M.
As a lover of books with an ever-growing list of “to reads,” and as someone who loves to knit and needlepoint, I have found audiobooks perfect for doing both at once rather than having to choose which one to pick up. I also always listen to an audiobook when on the elliptical machine. The one time I do not listen is when walking outdoors, where I prefer to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and people around me. I find even a route I have done many times is a different experience each time.

Jill G.
I never thought I would enjoy audiobooks as much as I do. There are some really great narrators, such as Edoardo Ballerini, Bahni Turpin, Jim Dale, Julia Whelan and Scott Brick, to name just a few. I also enjoy memoirs read by the author. I usually have an audiobook I listen to while in the car and working around the house, and then a book/e-book that I am reading as well. I found that I’m reading/listening to more books per year by adding in audiobooks. I know some say that if you listen to a book, you shouldn’t count it towards books read per year. I do!

Karen H.
I LOVE audiobooks. I walk and walk and walk daily listening to audiobooks. I also take lots of road trips with audiobooks, making the miles go faster.

Kathy H.
Well, I have been an audiobook reader for probably over 30 years. When I first became aware of audiobooks, there was a company called Books on Tape. I could order and pay for 10 titles; #11 would be free. Then I would set up a schedule when I wanted each book released to me. Through the mail, I would receive each book (in cassette form) in its own box, listen to the book, and then return the box of cassettes when I was done. It was like going to the library; there was no ownership.

Being a “reader,” I never feel like I have enough time to read. So I loved this concept. At the time, I was also a long-distance runner (26-50 miles), so I would put a small cassette player in a fanny pack and go out for my long training runs. It was my R&R (running and reading) time.

Today, I don’t spend all those hours on the trails, but audiobooks are still a big part of my reading life.

Kim S.
I discovered audiobooks when I discovered the Libby app on my phone. Once I joined a book club, I realized I couldn’t keep up with all the actual reading, whether e-books or paperback. Also, I like audiobooks as I can walk and listen to my book. And I admit, sometimes when pressed for time, I increase the speed to 1.25x to finish on time.

One nice benefit of audiobooks is HOW stories are delivered. I’ve read books with, say, Irish characters, and the accent is spot on! The actors who read these books are amazing and bring the story to life. I’ve looked at reviews on Goodreads, and folks who gave lower ratings read the print version of the same audiobook that I listened to and enjoyed with a higher rating.

Laura T.
I started listening to audiobooks via Libby (I’m a library director at the Fort Atkinson Public Library in Fort Atkinson, IA; we gotta stand with our own!) about a year and a half ago. I was never really into audiobooks before. Now it’s my primary way of reading. I generally read all over the place: YA, adult fiction, memoirs, some nonfiction (though not a lot). I don’t generally read Junior Fiction or picture books except at my job, but then not often and rarely on audio.

Having said all of that, I LOVE audiobooks now and keep working on people to get into them. With Libby, it’s a free resource, though there may be some wait time. But it’s FREE. You can’t go wrong. Our library also has Hoopla, which has audiobooks among other resources, so I’m spoiled for choice.

Audiobooks are so simple, and you can listen while you’re doing things like laundry, dishes, cleaning and mindless tasks. It’s wonderful. I’m really glad that they are taking off. It’s so much more liberating now that you can use your phone or Kindle (or whatever) to listen because you can use your hands and still enjoy a book. For me, that’s the best part!

I generally listen when I’m on my commute to and from work, but I do sneak it into my daily life when I can. If it’s quiet at work and I have to do something like cover books, I’ll definitely put in my ear buds and listen. I learned the hard way that some of the things I listen to have unexpected love scenes, which is not really appropriate for work! Plus, it helps me get in the zone of what I’m doing.

Michelle B.
I have increased my book listening approximately tenfold in the last few years. I moved to a rural part of northern Maine mid-pandemic and drive A LOT. When your closest Target is an hour away, that’s what happens. I actually split my time listening to book-related podcasts and audiobooks.

I am reading and reviewing quite a few books pre-pub and am trying to get more reading in! Because of the audiobook timeline, it’s hard to get this reading in before the pub date, so I use my listening time for recently published books and backlist titles.

Continued thanks for your recommendation of the Orphan X series! My husband and I have listened to the last four installments on our (very) long drives to Florida for his annual sailing races, and to say it keeps bickering to a minimum would be an understatement.

Pat B.
I began an interest in audiobooks after arranging tapes of books for the blind for my sister 20 years ago. These were provided by the state. She did not like them, but I used them and got hooked. I found the books on CDs at the library and then eventually online through the library.

Almost all of my “reading” now is audio. I hate doing housework without a book! There is not much on TV that appeals to me these days, so I listen to books. I have to say that I am among a minority of women my age (86) who like and prefer audiobooks.

Phyllis R.
As I age, I surely appreciate the option of listening to audiobooks and reading e-books so I can change the size of the font. I listen mostly in the car, on the beach and waiting at the dentist’s office.

Rita K.
I listen to audiobooks while working out at the gym, doing yard work or cleaning the house — basically any activity that doesn’t need deep concentration. I check them out of my local library. But I have to admit that print books are still my favorite.

Vickie O.
I love listening to books on Audible.

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