Audiobooks? Yes or No?

Recently, Lashaan over at Bookidote wrote a post about audiobooks. It’s a really good article about the format and I recommend you check it out. If you do, make sure to read the comments too, as there are some great points made about the pros and cons of the audiobook. This got me thinking about some of the reasons why I listen to them, so I thought I would write a few words on the topic.

I’m quite late to the practice as I only started listening to audiobooks last year. When I was a child, I loved listening to stories so I thought I would see if I still enjoyed the process. I have a 30-minute drive to-and-from work during which I would listen to music or podcasts. After joining Audible, I started using my commute to listen to a book instead. (I still listen to music sometimes–it depends on my mood or how tired I am.)

If I listen when I’m driving, I can usually finish one average-length book each month. That’s around 20 hours of listening time. Now, if I choose a long book such as one of George R.R. Martin’s door-stoppers, I either need two months to finish it or I have to make more time for listening. I did this with A Dance With Dragons, listening to it when I was gardening or doing some housework. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve realized that I always listen to audiobooks when I’m doing something. But when I have some quiet “me-time,” I much prefer to sit down with a “real” book and read.

This probably sounds very obvious, but with an audiobook the narrator is crucial to how much I enjoy it. I have experienced a number of different narrators so far, some good and some not so much. I won’t name names here, as that would be cruel and completely subjective anyway. Instead, I want to share with you my “Favourite Five” audiobooks so far:

The Secret Commonwealth (2019) by Philip Pullman
Narrated by Michael Sheen. It’s a brilliant performance by Sheen that adds more to an already fantastic story. Sheen performs distinctly different voices for each of the characters giving them an extra dimension. This is the best audiobook I’ve listened to so far and has made me want to listen to everything else Michael Sheen has narrated. It’s that good! (Review coming soon…)

Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert
Main narration by Simon Vance. Character narration by Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton, and Ilyana Kadushin. The different voices and atmospheric music offer a brand new experience of this science fiction masterpiece. I was engrossed when I was listening to it and plan to listen to it again.

Heir to the Empire (1991) by Timothy Zahn
Marc Thompson narrates this exciting story that should have been filmed as the new Star Wars movie. Thompson gives a brilliant performance voicing the different characters. It also includes brief snatches of music as well as some original sound effects from the films. So much fun to listen to! Thompson also narrates the next two books in the Thrawn Trilogy and I recommend them both.

Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker
Narration by Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren, Susan Duerden, John Lee, Graeme Malcolm, and Steven Crossley. This production won a number of awards when it was released. Tim Curry sold it for me, and I’m happy to say the whole cast does a brilliant job with their characters.

Annihilation (2014) by Jeff Vandermeer
Carolyn McCormick narrates this strange and otherworldly story by Vandermeer. I found her matter-of-fact narration really suited the narrative style of the story. She has a wonderful, calming voice, in my opinion. This is a very short book and a pretty quick listen.


Let me know your thoughts on audiobooks in the comments. As always, thanks for reading.

23 thoughts on “Audiobooks? Yes or No?

  1. Next time I’m planning on re-reading Dune, I plan on listening to it just to get a different vibe.

    I think the only way I could deal with audiobooks is if I had a long commute (mine is 10minutes, so not really enough time to commit to a book). When I listen to an audio book at home, I would tend to sit on the couch and close my eyes. And since I can read faster than I can listen, well…..

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  2. Definitely, the narrator is key! I live and breathe audiobooks now, but when I first started, I really struggled to get into them. I just thought it had to do with my inability to pay attention, but then I learned it came down to the story and quality of the performance. A good reader makes all the difference.

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    • Me too, at first.🙂 The first couple of audiobooks I listened to had fairly basic narrators. By that I mean standard narration with little change in their voice. So the first time I experienced a great narrator I was really impressed. My attention didn’t drift at all.

      When I’m driving, I sometimes lose track of the story. If this happens, I hit the 30-second rewind and pay more attention. (I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m not paying attention to the road 😳) As I wrote above, if I feel tired I listen to some music instead.

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  3. Audiobooks are my preferred entertainment when I drive longer, mostly 2 hours. I‘ve got the doorstoppers from audible that way one each month.
    Anywhere else, nope. On the couch I‘d fall asleep. No problem with a book but with audio I‘d have no clue where I left consciously.

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  4. Our experiences with audiobooks sound similar. Narrator is definately key. And I also find I most often listen to audiobooks when doing something, or when I want to read but I’m just too mentally exhausted to sit and focus on written words. I can just close my eyes, relax, and enjoy a good story. I’ve not listened to any of the ones you’ve listed but I’ll definately check them out, see if maybe they might be future additions to my listening list. I’m finding I enjoy audiobooks as an alternative format when rereading something. I recently listened to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and loved the audio. Very different from reading, but still a great experience. Maybe I’ll try that with Dune and Dracula.

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    • I recently listened to the Fellowship of the Ring when I was rereading it. Yes, it was really good and complemented the reading experience. I would recommend it to anyone not sure about audiobooks, especially with a book they love. Alternating between reading and listening offers a whole new way to experience a story. I hope you enjoy Dune and Dracula if you try them.

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  5. Thanks for the shoutout, I appreciate it a lot! I really envy those who can indulge a good, sometimes long, audiobook without having to actually MAKE time for it. I can definitely see how crucial the narrator is to the experience. I don’t think I’ve completely abandoned the idea of audiobooks yet but I think I’ll keep it for much later in my life when I know I’ll have more of those activities where audiobook’ing will just natural hahaha Great selection too; I’ll end up prioritizing those if I ever go for audiobooks too!

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  6. I fully agree with you on many points here – first, narrator is key; second – I simply can’t listen to audiobooks if I don’t do simultaneously something else (preferably driving); third – I’m totally with you on Thrawn trilogy as what-should-have-been-filmed-instead-of-the-horrible-new-trilogy in SW universe! 😀

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    • Yeah, it’s weird how I never sit down and just listen to an audiobook–unless I’m driving. I have to be doing something. In an alternate dimension there exist the Thrawn trilogy movies, each one glorious and most definitely NOT directed by Jar Jar Abrams nor Ruin Johnson. (Intentional typos (c) Nerdrotic.com)

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  7. I have recently been enjoying audiobooks, and I think they are a great way to multi-task. Sometimes I will listen to an audiobook and cook, which I find very productive. I do agree with you that the narrator makes a huge difference if whether you are engaged or not.

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    • Yes, being able to enjoy a good book while you’re cooking or doing some housework or gardening is great. Do you have any recommendations of audiobooks you really enjoyed?
      Thanks for reading and commenting🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m in graduate school for Counseling, so most of my readings these days are about self-development/self-help. I’ve read Making Peace with your Past by Norman Wright. I’ve also read the Critical Journey by Janet O’Hagberg. I am currently listening to the Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. And the one audiobook that I’ve listened too that isn’t in the self-help genre is Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham, which is her autobiography, and she narrates it herself. Since she’s an actress, when she reads her story, she makes it engaging, so she’s easy to listen to. I have heard that the Harry Potter series are really good audiobooks, so that is on my list to listen to next.

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