My love/hate relationship with audiobooks

I love them.

I love them not.

I love them.

I love them not.

Eh…I can take take or leave them.

This is my relationship with audiobooks. This past week, I’ve been taking them, or at least one of them, like medicine.

The previous week, Jenny Lawson’s book, Broken, came in from on hold in ebook from the Free Library of Philadelphia. When I finally had a chance to read it on Monday, I suddenly realized that I wanted to listen to on audiobook…or, to be more accurate, I didn’t want to have to read it to my wife, which I had started to do because it was so funny. So I got my umpteenth Audible trial so we could listen to Jenny tell her own story.

As I type this first draft, we are listening to her and it’s good, not always funny like this chapter, which is a letter to her insurance company. But it’s all good, in its own way, if for nothing but her honesty, which can be both hilarious and heartbreaking, sometimes all at the same time.

Jenny’s memoir isn’t the first “humor” book that I’ve chosen to listen to, and enjoyed. I think among my first audiobooks were by comedians, specifically comediennes:

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey.
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.

My first audiobook, at least as an adult, probably wasn’t technically a book but a radio drama from the BBC of The Lord of the Rings, most of which we listened to on a trip to North Carolina years ago.

My first proper introduction to audiobooks came via Jennifer of the then blog The Literary Housewife. It was a group listen of James Bond books as read by Simon Vance, which was one of her favorite narrators. I still like Vance, and own one narrated by him: A Tale of Two Cities and another in which he is a participant of a group read: Dune. As they both are long, I have yet to get to them. Before you suggest that I listen to them on my commute to work, I’ll let you know my commute is five minutes. That said, we do have a longer car trip mid-month so maybe we’ll listen to one or the other on the way to and from.

Last year, I did listen to Vance’s narration of part of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, while walking around our neighborhood. During walks last year, I also listened to a public radio drama based on A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. It was well done, but as it was apocalyptic science fiction, in hindsight, it wasn’t the best series to listen to at the start of a pandemic (in April and May last year).

Oh, I almost forgot but would be negligent if I didn’t mention that I also listened to The Poet X as read by the author Elizabeth Acevedo. It was great.

I already know some of you listen to audiobooks and love them and you’ll try to convince me to listen to audiobooks every day or at least on weekends. While I appreciate the thought, I’m not usually good at sitting down and listening to someone read to me for hours or even listening while doing something. However, I will ask all of you, if you read audiobooks, what are the one or two that I need to put on my bucket list to listen to as I do once or twice a year? If you don’t listen to audiobooks, why not? Maybe like me, you don’t have a long commute or a long attention span. Share your thoughts in the comments.

16 thoughts on “My love/hate relationship with audiobooks

  1. I do listen to them, as I have a 15-18 minute commute to work. But that will change for the summer. I have a hard time listening at home, because whatever I’m doing at home while listening is too noisy. Except folding laundry. Even while walking, the wind is noisy.
    However, it does work great in the car for me.
    My favorite audio books ever are:
    The Prince of Tides, narrated by Frank Muller. It’s the most beautiful one I’ve ever heard.
    And
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, narrated by Elijah Wood, (Frodo), he was fantastic.

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  2. I first tried audiobooks in 2014 and wasn’t a big fan so gave up on them. In 2017 I thought I’d give them another try and something just clicked and I loved them so much that since then most of my books are audiobooks.

    And now you’ve convinced me to listen to Broken!

    Have a great week!

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  3. I have tried and tried to listen to audibooks and simply can NOT. Except for Stephen Fry reading me the Harry Potter books. Every other audiobook has been a complete fail, only because my mind is so active it carries on and refuses to pay attention to the book. And forget about trying to do anything else while listening to one. In order to focus I would have to plant myself in a chair and sit still so I might as well have the physical book in my hands!

    My friend who prefers audiobooks to regular books said Sadie by Courtney Summers made for an EXCELLENT audio book with multiple narrators and subtle background noises such as street scenes, inside a restaurant, etc.

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  4. I enjoy audiobooks, but only when I have time to kill. Normally over the holidays when I will paint or craft or something like that. Then I’ll listen to an audiobook.

    I also enjoyed Yes Please as an audiobook a lot! I’ve actually read it as well, but prefer the audio recording.

    Have a good week and take care!

    Elza Reads

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  5. I loathed audiobooks. I felt. Like. People. Were. Talking. So. Slowly. Just get on with it, I thought. I can read it to myself so much faster, people. And skip the boring parts. Reading to myself vs. audiobooks? Reading wins.

    Then we took a long driving vacation. More than 3,000 miles. That’s 50 hours of driving. I took along ten or so audiobooks from the library. And, unexpectedly, I was hooked.

    Anything where I don’t have to keep up with a plotline (short stories, nonfiction, a story where I already know the basic plot) seems to work best for me. A recent favorite was Ready Player One, read by Will Wheaton. And I know you won’t be able to find it up there in the North, but my whole family adores Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson. Erickson writes the stories, reads the books, does the voices, plays the guitar, and writes the songs. My favorite Hank is The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse.

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  6. There was a time when I would get to work at 6am and go walking around the campus before work. I enjoyed audio books then. I also enjoy them now and then on my work commute, when I have one. Although I prefer podcasts since they are shorter. If there is an excellent reader then great but they must be pretty good to hold my attention. I used to try to play one on road trips but then kept getting asked “what just happened?” and that was irritating.

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  7. In general, I am not as good with audio because I am such a visual learner, but just today I put a hold on my first audio book in 15 years! I have heard that The Girl with the Louding Voice is better on audio due to the NIgerian accent so I am all in. I am 7th in line.

    I’ve also heard good things about

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  8. I enjoy them. I have never sat and listened to one but they have been a valuable companion on long drives to the airport and for sessions in the gym. Not all books work as audio versions – the ones I enjoy most have a good story rather than being a very interior based narrative. Dickens works well (Great Expectations, Little Dorrit) as does crime.

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    1. I get that, long drives and the gym. If I had a commute or traveled or, ahem, went to the gym, I’d listen to more audiobooks. I have A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens that I own so maybe some day. 🙂

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