When I found out that our book club co-founder, Mia, started her first audiobook, I compiled my best advice for her. Just before hitting send on my message, I realized that others could benefit. So for Mia & all the other audiobook newbies & virgins out there, here are my 7 best audiobook tips.
1. Great Narration is Critical
The narrator can make or break an audiobook. While I adore audiobooks, I hated them at first because I tried two books with bad narrators. One was a narrator with poor reviews & the other had great reviews, but just put me off. It’s critical that you look at the narrator reviews, but also listen to a sample to see if you personally like the narrator’s voice.
2. Some Novels are Better in Audio Form & Some Not
Though I prefer my novels in book form, a great audiobook can be even better than the book. Some of this has to do with the narration, but some of it has to do with personal preference. I’ve found that lots of action in an audiobook will hold my attention whereas a story with descriptive prose suits me more in book form. However, an extremely complex book whether it includes action or not doesn’t work well for me in audio format. Figure out what works best for you & also pay attention to reviews which note that the narrator or audio form makes the book better.
3. Mind Wandering often? Get a Different Audiobook
Early on, I thought it was normal for my mind to often wander while listening to an audiobook. Now, I know this is a sign that the audio form of that particular book doesn’t suit me even if I like the story. That’s when it’s time to move onto a different audiobook (& perhaps get that novel in book form instead).
4. Audiobooks Can Supplement, Replace, or Enrich books
People listen to audiobooks for different reasons & one method doesn’t fit all.
Audiobooks are fantastic for when you can’t read books (e.g., doing chores, working out, etc.). They can enhance daily car rides with your kids & road trips with your friends. They can help you nod off listening to your favorite book using the app’s sleep timer. If you add narration to your Kindle books via WhisperSync, you can even switch seamlessly between reading & listening.
If you turn on an audiobook when you have a spare few minutes (e.g., waiting in line, brushing your teeth, etc.), it can make boring things fun & vastly increase the number of books you consume.
Some people find that audiobooks are easier & soon replace all of their regular reading. Others use them to get out of a book slump as you don’t have to do anything but listen.
People often find that listening to the audio while reading helps them with comprehension & retention especially for self development & career advancement reads. Slow readers find that it speeds up their reading. Use Amazon Matchmaker to see which of the Kindle books that you already own can be upgraded with audio.
5. Where to Find Audiobooks & Reviews
Your library is the best place to find free audiobooks that are fantastic. However, Audible is the ultimate place to find reviews even if you end up getting the audiobook from your library. Another option is to secure the free audiobook version from the available Kindle Unlimited books.
Note: You can snag free audiobooks from other sites, but oftentimes, the narration isn’t great or the audiobook has been pirated which means you’re stealing from the author.
6. Is Audible Worth It?
It depends. Borrowing audiobooks from your library is your best bet. (If your library doesn’t have a great audio selection or you don’t have a local library, check out our list of Libraries with Nonresident Borrowing Privileges.) However, even with access to two of the biggest libraries in the US, I still have signed up for Audible & here’s why:
Audible has the best selection of audiobooks.
If you don’t like the audiobook, you can exchange it for free.
Even with the basic package, you’ll receive a credit for 1 audiobook & 2 free Audible Originals every month plus…
Lots of promos: an upgrade with unlimited bingeing on romance novels, daily deals, free Audible Channels with Prime, free audio-guided fitness programs, & regular 2 for 1 credit sales as well as à la carte sales.
Note: The above promos are for the US. Other countries may offer different promos.
So go for it! Start by snagging a free Audible 30-day trial with two free audiobooks.
7. Audiobook Recommendations
To get you started on your audio journey, here’s what we recommend:
Audible’s list of Great First Listens
The list of 100 Audible Essential Audiobooks
Our list of Great International Audiobooks