To Listen or Not to Listen: Audiobooks are the Question

Do you listen to audiobooks? I’ve only started listening to them in the past two years, primarily during the walking portion of my daily commute to my Chicago office. The pandemic turned that upside down, of course. (I miss you, Chicago.) Now, as I’m trying to get healthier, I’ve started using audiobooks on my walks around the subdivision. Not as exciting as walking to Michigan Avenue, but I don’t have to navigate around pigeon droppings any more. đŸ™‚

My Rules for Listening to Audiobooks

I have a few rules about audiobooks that I’ve found work best for my listening enjoyment.

  1. Nonfiction listening only. I’ve tried fiction audiobooks, but my mind wanders and I lose track of the characters. I’m much better off listening to nonfiction, particularly memoirs.
  2. The listening time should be less than 10 hours. My interest wanes after about 8 hours, if I’m being honest.
  3. When possible, choose an audiobook with the author as narrator. Only the author truly knows how the words should sound. Listening to Jen Lancaster or David Sedaris read their own memoirs is much better than even the most professional narrator, IMO.
  4. Do an activity while listening, like exercising or sewing, but don’t drive. Never drive while listening. This is how accidents happen. Trust.
  5. Listen at 1.5x to 2.0x playback speed. This definitely varies by the narrator’s speech patterns, but I’m a fast talker and prefer to listen to the same. I haven’t found an audiobook that I enjoyed listening to at 1x.

October Audiobook Marathon

So, with those rules in mind, I’ve been on an October audiobook marathon. Here’s a recap for you.

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Have you experienced the great wisdom of Brené Brown? You should. She is a queen in my book. Her research and insights about vulnerability and connection are life-changing. I plan to read the physical book from my bookshelf soon, but for now, listening to Daring Greatly was a good step forward for my own mental health. My only complaint for the audiobook was that I would have loved for Brené to narrate her words here.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists is a short audiobook, but it’s amazing. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie narrates, and her accent is both soothing and empowering. This is a book for anyone looking for answers about where women should have roles. Spoiler Alert: It’s everywhere!

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

This is my second audiobook by David Sedaris. I didn’t love Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, but Me Talk Pretty One Day is so popular, I didn’t want to miss out. This is another case of how the author-as-narrator makes an audiobook even better. I felt like David was walking next to me while telling me hilarious stories about his life.

Happiness is a Choice You Make by John Leland

You know how sometimes you choose to read a book after only skimming the description and you assume one thing based on the title only to discover that the book is about something very different? Just me? Okay, perfect readers…

I neglected to understand that Happiness is a Choice You Make was about John Leland‘s experiences over a year with the elderly. There were touching moments, but three years after losing my dad and having an aging mother made this book a little too personal in soul-searching ways that I’m not ready to face. Still, I was too far invested into listening before I realized this, so I finished it.

Wolfpack by Abby Wambach

Before listening to Wolfpack, I knew three things about Abby Wambach: 1) she is an excellent soccer player, 2) she is married to Glennon Doyle, who I think is fantastic, and 3) she wrote a book. This short audiobook taught me so much more. Abby is insightful, empowering, and a damn good writer. Her humility and genuine desire for a better humanity shines through here. And again, listening to the author narrate this book made a big difference. I’m a fan.

Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen

I really need to pay more attention to the book summaries on my Libby app.

In listening to Get Out of Your Head, I wanted to buy in to more of what Jennie Allen described. I am a Christian, but other than praying each day, I don’t actively participate in my religion. There’s a lot of personal baggage there. I didn’t realize this book was a Christian self-help book, but I took away some valid ways to stop my negative thinking patterns. The book was fine and Jennie is a good narrator, but my own stuff got in the way of truly enjoying it.

What I’m Listening to Now: The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster

This weekend I started listening to The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster. I read the book when it was released back in 2013 and enjoyed it. I love Jen’s humor and snark, and her memoirs are some of my favorite books ever. Needing a little of that joy right now, I decided to try one of her audiobooks. So far, it’s been a great choice. P.S. – Jen’s recent book, The United States of Anxiety, is an excellent read that I highly recommend.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Tell me some of your favorites!

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