As mentioned in my January Running & Fitness wrap-up, this month I am trying to walk to and from work. (Not completely because I live a 30min drive away from where I work but instead of taking the park & ride bus, I’m attempting to walk from the car park to work instead). But in turning to walking instead of getting the bus, I found that I was losing out on 30 minutes of reading time four days a week. And that just didn’t sit too well with me, especially now that I seem to have gotten my reading mojo back!
Thus I decided to turn to audiobooks. I have a long love-hate history with audiobooks, and last summer I thought I had decided to see the back of them and to never listen to another again. But, well… obviously that didn’t happen. I actually have Finish It Feb to thank for reminding me I was still in the middle of a great audiobook, and I am very glad that I decided to finish it because it was a truly fantastic book!
Why it Works
I’ve always been a fan of walking. I used to walk to school every day during secondary school, college and most of (especially third year) university. I like the activity of it but I’ve always struggled with sometimes just getting a little bored if the walk is too long. Yes, I do like long walks where I can tune out with my music and just chill but sometimes it can just feel a little monotonous. Especially as I haven’t updated the music on my iPod in about five years.
The reason I gave up listening to audiobooks last year is because I was struggling to concentrate on the words while I was driving. I’d be doing well and then I’d have to concentrate on the road so I’d miss some of the story. When I realised I was re-winding the audiobook five times before the words finally sunk in, I declared that audiobooks and driving just didn’t go hand in hand. I also tried listening to an audiobook while I just sat still but eventually my brain shut off, stopped listening and hankered to do something else – I’m a very antsy person and always need to be doing something.
Thus, I am relived to say that for some reason, listening to audiobooks while I walk seems to solve all of the above problems, almost. I no longer get bored if the walk is a long one because I’m emmersed in a story, I actually look forward to my walks and curse myself when I am running so late that I have to get the bus, and I very, very rarely have to rewind the audiobook because my concentration has disappeared. There are small moments where a part of my brain HAS TO CHECK my phone for notifications and this can pull me away from the story but this only happens once every couple of walks, which is a lot less than when I was just listening to music!
What I’ve Been Listening To
So, I’ve been listening to two audiobooks since I started walking this month. One I finished last week (yay), and the other I am very much enjoying, even though it is not the kind of book I would normally read!
How to Fall In Love by Cecelia Ahern
This is the audiobook that I was part of the way through and I picked it up again really easily. The narrator had a soothing voice and did well with different voices to distinguish between different characters talking too. She was easy to listen to and I would happily listen to another audiobook with that narrator. (A full review of this book will be on the blog tomorrow!)
Sister Noon by Karen Joy Fowler
I’m about two hours into this audiobook and am finding it very enjoyable. It was a bit difficult at first to get used to the narration and there’s a lot of information to take in at the start of the book too. But now that we’re further into it and way from the prologue, it’s a lot easier to listen to and keep up with the story. However, I’m not hugely fond of the narrator as she’s not the easiest person to listen to due to her accent, unfortunately.
Which leads me nicely to the last part of this post, the importance of a good narrator. The narrator of the audiobook can make or break it, unfortunately. Fortunately, I wouldn’t judge a book based on its narrator! But if you find that you just cannot listen to the narrator then it can a) put you off that audiobook and b) put you off audiobooks altogether! Which, I have to admit, almost happened to me!
So what I want to say is that if you’re new to audiobooks, do have a listen to the samples before you buy or borrow and see if the narrator is a good fit for you. We all like different things and that is no different to liking different narrators too. But don’t let one bad experience put you off audiobooks for good. Also, just like I have, maybe you can’t get on with them because you need to try them elsewhere. I know that some people listen to them while they’re in the bath, some while they’re doing the housework, and some while they’re trying to fall asleep. And I, of course, like to listen while I’m walking. So just find what works for you and go from there.
How do you listen to audiobooks? Listened to anything good lately?