For a long time, I resisted audiobooks. This was not because I thought reading paper books were superior in any way – it was simply because I couldn’t see how it was better than a paperback or my much-loved Kindle. I did eventually happen to dive into it, and guess what? The benefits of audiobooks were glaringly obvious, and I wondered why I hesitated all this while.
I have always been an avid reader. At one point, this blog used to have a post every week: either with a new book review, or an essay like this with book-related thoughts. While it has slowed down in recent years, I am glad to share I have big plans for “phase 2”. So stay tuned!
As I say, I have always been an avid reader, but life gets busy. That’s when the true appeal of audiobooks started making sense to me. I’m going to talk about some benefits as well as some more thoughts I have about audiobooks in general.
Benefits of audiobooks:
Here are some benefits of audiobooks, some of which I personally experienced, and some that I found online! I hope some of these might be exactly what you’re looking for in order to make the leap!
Audiobooks have been immensely helpful for making progress on your books while still doing the other life things that need to be done. They have been especially amazing for laundry day; I can get through quite a bit while folding and sorting and organizing. I actually look forward to laundry because it’s always audiobook time for me.
What I’ve found in this approach is science fiction and fantasy are especially perfect for chores and such, because they’re so stimulating and fast-paced – it really breaks the chore monotony and helps take your mind off the repetitive motions of washing dishes, scrubbing things, or driving. I’ve heard of people listening to audiobooks while taking showers or cooking. Sky’s the limit once you’re into it!
Ease of Access
Audiobooks are a great resource for people who are trying to get into reading – whether for the first time or trying to rekindle a love of books. It’s easy to acquire, whether you use a paid service, or your library. I personally love the Libby app and my library has a great variety of books. The good thing is you can also put books on hold through the app. They just show up when you’re next in line. You can choose whether to borrow immediately, or push it back by a few days or weeks based on when you’re ready for it. This is also applicable for e-books in Libby, by the way. It really does make it so frictionless to read and enjoy new books!
Fits in with a minimalist lifestyle
I am quite interested in minimalism as a lifestyle choice (not touching on the aesthetic aspects of minimalism), and audiobooks fit right in. They’re right there with you, on your phone or mp3 player. If you have a new-ish e-reader, many of them have Bluetooth support too. Another way it removes friction from choosing to read something new. This is also a benefit in terms of having access to your books, just like my previous point.
Improves language learning and pronunciation
For me, and I’m sure many other readers, we learn so many new words that is has now become part of the joy of reading new things. An improved, well-rounded vocabulary is a benefit in both your personal and professional life. It allows you to convey your thoughts clearly and effectively. If you’re a writer or in any sort of profession that requires communication skills, you would be very well served by learning new words. And because you’re listening to a narrator read it out, you’re learning it with the right pronunciation to boot!
Improves critical thinking, attention span and comprehension
Whether we listen to audiobooks lying in bed with our eyes closed, or turn to audiobooks during other activities, this benefit still remains. After all, you’re still focusing and paying attention to the plot progression and the character arcs, reactions and personalities. This aids critical thinking because you’re connecting the dots in your mind and getting involved in the story. You’re listening and using your imagination and critical thinking skills. This, in turn, improves your capacity for comprehension and greater understanding. Some neural network building!
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence about it improving attention spans and focus, such as the fine people of one of my favorite sites, Reddit. I can attest to it helping me too. It somehow makes me calmer.
These are some of the things I have either personally experienced or noted as a common benefit of audiobooks from people online. I’m sure there are many, many more, because a book, after all, is a book, irrespective of medium of delivery. Humanity does have thousands of years of history of oral storytelling.
Experiencing the audiobook world as a late adopter
I’ve never been an early-adopter of most tech trends, and it was no different for audiobooks. I knew they existed and appealed to many, from a varied cross-section of society. I decided to give audiobooks a chance and genuinely enjoy it. Another benefit (in my mind) to adopting something late is that the market has had time to mature. I have access to such a wide variety of authors, narrators, styles, apps, tools and more! What I’m saying is, it’s never too late to try something! The early adopters have paved the way for us.
Which leads to another question I have encountered lately:
Are audiobooks as good as reading?
Let me put it this way: a story is still a story, irrespective of medium of delivery. The content of the book does not change between paperback, hardcover, or a digital version. I don’t see why it should be any different for audiobooks. The story is the same. The medium of delivery is different. That doesn’t change what you get out of the story.
In the audiobook vs reading a book debate, I say it isn’t even a point of discussion. It’s like having an issue with subtitles on movies or shows. If you don’t need it, don’t use it. But you can’t say people who use subtitles aren’t actually watching the show. They are, they just prefer a different medium of narrative delivery. And that’s a personal choice that nobody needs to justify. Just like a preference for audiobooks.
Should I try audiobooks?
If you’re still here, you’re probably interested in giving it a shot.
The easiest way to start is by checking your Libby (or equivalent) app. You can listen to sample chapters to gauge the speed, narrator, and genre. Then you can borrow what appeals to you and start building out a small audiobook library of your own, for free! I must say, the audiobook narrator plays a huge role. When I was listening to The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, I enjoyed it even more because of the narrator, Phoebe Strole. I even put a couple more audiobooks of different genres on hold simply because she is the narrator.
If you use eBook readers, there is support for audiobooks on Kindle via Audible, an audiobook player owned by Amazon. In Canada, Libby is integrated with Kobo devices through Overdrive.
Libby works on certain devices in certain countries, so it may vary based on where you are and what your local library does. You can also find a lot of advice on device compatibility as well as audiobook recommendations on Audiobook Reddit.
At the end of the day, all we readers want is to devour a story. And I can’t fault anything that makes it easier for me to do that more often. The benefits of audiobooks are greater than I anticipated.