It was World Book Day this week, so let’s celebrate with a Post on Everything You Need to Know About Audible Books… this is a question that folk ask me often and to be honest I grew up with my dad reading stories to me… yes he read me the entire series of Swallows and Amazons, as well as all the Dr. Dolittles. What can I say a good story is a good story… is a good story. And I still like being read to.
Study after study has shown that your brain enjoys a good book, and really doesn’t mind if you read it yourself or if you are read to. To be honest we know this already, in fact, if we didn’t inherently understand the human need for fine stories we would never read to our children… and just because children are short doesn’t mean that they are the only ones who like a fine story.
The Truth About Audible Books
- Audiobooks are Not for Lazy Readers:
- You Need to Train for Listening Skills:
- You have to Listen to the Right Books for You:
- How the Audible Subscription Works:
- Try Before You Buy:
- Books that Really Work… What Exactly to Search For:
- Audible Books on Special:
There are a lot of folk that think audiobooks are really just watered down “TV without the pictures” kind of books and really only for the laziest of readers. This is not the case though, a book creates a story and the reader creates the pictures… if it is read to them or not, all readers appreciate a good story. Why would we read to small children if stories weren’t inherently good for them… it builds their imaginations, it powers up their vocabulary, it takes them to places that they could never dream of going otherwise. In a good story: timid folk can become brave, wild folk can calm a storm and everyone can be the victorious hero of the day. Did you see what I did there? Half way through that paragraph I changed the subject from children to folk… because it is not just children who benefit from having stories read to them.
I didn’t always love listening to audiobooks because there is actually a bit of a learning curve. Firstly, I was “reading” the wrong books (see the next point) and secondly, like reading from a book, listening to a book is a skill. You have to start in small snippets and build up to an epic saga. You have to train your brain to listen to longer and longer chunks of a book… until you can really just listen all day without mentally wondering off and not “hearing” anything that was read to you. Listening endurance… it is a thing, not a natural thing… you have to work on it. Another thing is that when it comes to audiobooks consistency is key… fifteen minutes every day keeps you connected with your book, while an hour once a week can have you forgetting who is who and what is what. and for ninja-listeners, or if you are just short of time… you can increase your listening speed. At first I could only listen at narration speed 1.0, but as I have got better at listening… I started listening at 1.25, then 1.5 times… and I have settled at 2.0 narration speed.
This was my mistake… you know all those books you should read, the ones you feel you must read, the ones you put off reading forever… those are NOT the books to listen to. I’ll say it again… those are not the books you should listen to… life is too short to waste on books you don’t love. There are so many great books that are a good fit for you. Often the books that you feel you should read are the ones you never read for network in high school and you think you should read in order to be a literate adult… I went so far as to tell myself that I was going to read my way through Susan Wise Bauer’s fantastic list of books to read for a classic education. From start to finish, missing nothing. The list is full of amazing books and it starts with my personal nemesis: Don Quixote. Can I just say… I tried and tried and tried to read Don Quixote… I just couldn’t. So when I joined Audible books that was the first book I bought, thinking well if I can’t read it, at least I can listen to it. Turns out… and I learnt this the hard way more than once… if you can’t read through the first page or two in the paper book, then don’t bother with the audible… put that book onto the “not for you” pile and move along.
What works for me is to mix things up… I listen to a classic; a book I feel I should listen to, which is often a high school reader that my kids have to read but aren’t reading. I know it will be great but some books look overwhelming, so I will listen and then tell them why it is great!!!; Also if my review book pile is overwhelming then I will choose the very fattest book to get on audible; and finally I will reward all the “should listen to books” with a book that I am dying to read off my wishlist.
The best most value for money way to consistently build a collection of great audible books is to subscribe to audible books and pay the monthly subscription fee which is about $15. a month. It is not nothing, but it is cheaper than a real live book. Now the point of the subscription is to collect great books and the key is to find value for money books at the same time. For your subscription you get one credit… with which you can buy from a huge selection of the most fantastic books. If you don’t choose a book on a particular month then you can accumulate credits, just saying. Otherwise never waste your subscription credit on a book that costs less than your subscription… a book that is on sale for $1.99 is not a great choice for your credit, that you paid $15.00 for. In fact, the longer the book, and the higher the dollar price, the better. Freshly published books tend to have higher prices, and classics and collections tend to be much longer.
Seriously, not all readers accents or voices were created equally… usually if an author narrates their own book they are pretty good… but there are some voices that just annoy you and if you have chosen to spend your “once a month credit” on fifty hours of a voice that you just can’t stand you will live to regret it. My top tip is that for every book available on audible, there is an option to listen to a sample… use that option to listen to a bit of a book before you spend your hard earned credit. A rookie mistake… I just endured fifty-two hours of the Count of Monte Christo (you know a classic on my “should read” pile… the narrator grated me from start to finish, and one of the Hoods loved it… best book ever. The Narrator really is everything, and it is personal, your favourite book in the wrong voice will ruin it for you, for ever. That being said, a lot of books are dramatised, which means they are read by a group of voices, often famous actors taking on roles… these are audibles to look out for, they are famous actors for a reason.
If you are looking for books for kids then look for story collections and then sort according to running time: The Adventure Collection includes Treasure Island, The Jungle Book, Gulliver’s Travels, White Fang and the Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Another great and long listen for kids is The Once and Future King. The Little House in the Big Woods, the entire series narrated by Cherry Jones and are absolutely essential listening, though still not available as a collection… you have to buy them one by one by one. The Complete Chronicles of Narnia… is the full series of Narnia… totally worth your 1 credit.
You can of course buy books on audible any time that you wish and look out for their sales. If you follow the Read A Loud Revival, and you should, then she has an ongoing list of current audible deals. In fact, she has a great FAQ to answer any of your audible book questions and how to get free audible books for your kids as well.