7 Ways To Discover Your Audiobook Style

Adding audiobooks to your daily routine can change your reading life. Suddenly, walking the dog, doing the dishes, or waiting in the carpool lane are opportunities to sink into a good book. However, like any habit, it takes time and effort to make audiobooks work for YOU. A truly great audiobook doesn’t just replicate the on-paper reading experience—it elevates it.

The best audiobooks are more than a simple hands-free replacement of readable text. Their narrator, format, style, and listening environment together create a reading event. Many new audiobook listeners immediately take to the audio format, but for others the transition is bumpy. If you relate, I’m here to help.

Many readers are surprised to find that their reading taste on paper does not directly translate to audiobooks. They are dismayed to find that books they thought they’d love feel distracting, hard to follow, or just plain boring when they’re reading with their ears. That’s why taking the time to find your perfect audiobook experience is well worth the effort. 

Through trial and error, and quite a few Audible credits, I finally found my personal audiobook style. I like compelling stories that keep my attention, (mostly—but not all—fictional), simple prose (not flowery), and confident narrators (accents are always appreciated). Knowing your personal audiobook style will save you from wasting those precious audiobook credits, or worse, nine hours of your life struggling to listen to an audiobook that isn’t right for you.

Want to discover your own personal audiobook style? Use these 7 tips to find the audiobooks that are right for you:

1. Try a few different genres

Discovering your personal style requires experimentation, whether you’re taking a fashion risk or trying a new audiobook. Collecting data on what you don’t like is just as important as discovering what you love. When I started listening to audiobooks, I downloaded self-help and personality guides, which I love to read on paper with a pen and book darts nearby. As I listened in the car and desperately wished I could take notes, I realized that informational nonfiction is probably not for me, on audio. Finding my audiobook style meant setting aside a beloved genre in favor of books with narrative drive, but I didn’t discover that overnight. Trying audiobooks in a few different genres and taking notes on what I liked, or didn’t like, helped me narrow down my personal audiobook style. 

Venture out of your comfort zone to find the ideal audiobook genre for you.

2. Find a few favorite narrators

The narrator can make or break an audiobook. I treat my favorite narrators with the respect given to beloved authors: once I come across a narrator I love, I visit their backlist, and pay attention to what they’re narrating next. (Plus, choosing based on narrator gives you a simple way to reduce the overwhelming number of great books available on audio. Goodbye, decision fatigue!) 

Most audiobook sites will allow you to click on the narrator’s name to see a full list of their work. Some of my favorite narrators are Adjoa Andoh, Davina Porter, and Bahni Turpin.  

3. Consider your podcast habits

Your favorite podcasts might hold the key to your listening style: what do you love to listen to when you’re not listening to audiobooks? Consider the hosts’ personalities as well as the topics they discuss.

If you enjoy the snarky wit of Knox and Jamie on The Popcast, try Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. If you gravitate towards the investigative style of Sarah Koenig on Serial, try Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. And if you enjoy listening to me chat with guests on What Should I Read Next?, I can’t help but recommend my book I’d Rather Be Reading on audio—it’s full of the same thoughtful bookish enthusiasm, plus I narrated it myself.

4. Mind your speed

A common complaint I hear from new audiobook listeners is I just can’t pay attention. If you’re struggling with a certain audiobook, your obstacle might not be the book itself, but the way you’re listening to it.

Specifically, if you’re struggling to pay attention, try speeding up. It’s counterintuitive—if your mind is wandering, shouldn’t you give it time to focus? I’ve found that usually, the answer is no: when you speed up, your mind doesn’t have time to wander. 

5. Watch what you’re doing

Furthermore, how—and how fast—I listen often depends on where I am in the story. For example, the opening chapters of a new audiobook often feel disorienting; my brain must scramble to figure out where I am, what is happening, and who are all these new characters?

At the beginning, I listen slowly, and I listen in big chunks of time—30 minutes at a go, not 5. But once I’m thoroughly immersed in a story, I can happily listen to it in five-minute bursts, and I can listen to it fast. (I know you want specifics: for some narrators, 2x speed is my go-to. For others, 1.5x is my max. I can listen faster on a quiet walk than when I’m driving. Tailor your listening to your surroundings.)   

I know this might sound complicated to new listeners, but after three or four audiobooks—after you’ve found your style, that is—it will feel like second nature. 

6. It’s okay to set that book aside

No one wants to waste their audiobook credits, but I’d also hate for you to waste eight hours of your life on an audiobook that’s not working for you. Abandoning books is a great way to make the most of your reading life, and the same principle applies here. The less time you spend on a book you don’t like, the more time you can devote to a better book for you. Some audiobook companies will even allow you to return your audiobook if you let them know you weren’t satisfied.

7. Use a free trial or the library (or both!)

Another way to avoid the pressure of audiobook credits is to utilize free trials from companies like Libro.fm. Modern Mrs. Darcy readers can get 2 audiobooks for the price of 1 with Libro.fm. If you don’t know where to start, check out our playlist from Volume I of One Great Book. The best thing about Libro.fm is that your membership supports independent bookstores. When you sign up for a Libro.fm account, you select the bookstore you want to purchase from, and they get credit for all of your audiobook purchases. Sign up, choose your store, and start listening.

Audible is also a popular platform; it’s the one that first hooked me on audiobooks. Click here to give Audible a try and get two free audiobooks when you do. Audible has some great Audible Originals books, like this version of Anne of Green Gables read by Rachel McAdams, and the versions of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility narrated by Rosamund Pike.

You can also use Overdrive, Hoopla, or Libby through your local library to test out audiobooks for free, without the high stakes of credits. Depending on your library system, you might have access to thousands of titles at multiple libraries. Needless to say, this is a great way to experiment and discover what works best for you.

Do you have any tips and tricks for choosing audiobooks that are right for YOU? I would love to hear about your personal audiobook style—and how you discovered it—in the comments.

P.S. We have so much great audiobook content here on Modern Mrs Darcy! Click here to peruse the audiobook archives.

P.P.S. Your audiobook style might not be the same as mine, but I can’t resist sharing a few summer reads I adored on audio: The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth, The Huntress by Kate Quinn, and The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali, which I loved so much it will be our January pick for the MMD Book Club.


Leave A Comment
  1. Sarah says:

    You don’t mention it, but I find audiobooks are great for re-reads. I know not everyone is a re-reader, but I ended up listening to a series I had read before to refresh my memory before a new installment came out and I found that I picked up a lot of details and little clues/foreshadowing I had missed when I raced through the books originally. It’s easy to skip over things when reading a book for the first time, and sometimes that second listen helps those details to stand out, even if you’re prone to be distracted.

    • Becky says:

      I agree about audiobooks as rereads! If I read a book that has a story I think my husband will enjoy (based on our shared audiobook experiences on car trips), I will get the audio version. This way of revisiting a book also works very well when book club chooses a book that I had read a few years or longer ago.

    • Lori N says:

      I love audiobooks for rereads! So do my kids.

      When my kids were very young, I was horrified by friends who used DVD players to keep kids quiet in the car. I used audiobooks. (Winnie-the-Pooh was our first.) We still listen to audiobooks as a family.

      Well chosen audiobooks helped my dyslexic son retain his love of books while he struggled with reading. He just turned 11 and this past year saw his reading abilities grow by leaps and bounds. He reads many more physical books, though he still enjoys audiobooks.

      Most of my audiobooks come from the library. I use my Audible membership to buy books the library doesn’t have. Light reading such as mysteries, romances, and rereads, are great in audio. Nonfiction or serious literary fiction has to be in print so I can take notes.

      • Tracy says:

        I agree with this so much! I’ve gone back and started to listen to the Game of Thrones series, which I wasn’t able to get all the way through the first time around. Now, since reading most of the books once, and watching the show, I’m really enjoying listening from the beginning. I have great mental images built from the show and a deeper understanding of the story since I’m familiar with it. It’s been a great way to spend my commute!

        • Robin says:

          We always listened to books for long road trips! Family favorites: Hank the Cow Dog series read by the author (hysterical!), Charlotte’s Web read by E.B. White, Harry Potter series, Cheaper by the Dozen. My kids are in their 20s now but we have many happy memories of those road trips when no one wanted to stop to eat because we were at “the good part.”

    • Christine says:

      I agree with audio books as a re-read! When I first discovered audio books, I re-read some of the classics I had read in high school. I enjoyed several Jane Austen and Charles Dickens; I also listened to Gone With the Wind and To Kill A Mockingbird. I love to tackle long books on audio as well; they seem less intimidating when you can’t see how thick they are!

    • Mary Lou says:

      I agree about rereads – and your comment reminded me of a period two years ago when I had surgery to replace both my knees. I was a basket case and could not concentrate to do much beyond watch HGTV. I seriously could not concentrate to read a book, and was terrified that my book reading would never return. However, I decided to try listening to books, and I do have a rather extensive audible library that I have acquired. I decided to go back to the first Chief Inspector Gamach book written by Louise Penny. I started with that one, and found I was able to follow the book despite my physical discomfort. And then I listened to all the rest of the series (I think there are twelve, and the thirteenth is due out this week). I have to say it saved my sanity, listening to those Louise Penny books, because the recovery from that surgery is slow and can be quite uncomfortable. I am happy to say that I am fine today and completely recovered, and back to reading books like before, but I do know that audible books saved my bacon during that difficult time.

  2. Nancy says:

    Have you been reading my mind?? I need this post SOOO much. I’ve been in what I call, “audiobook listening training” for awhile trying to extend my reading life by listening to books–it’s just so efficient to be able to listen to books. I’m just the worst at it, though! Why is it I can practically walk and read but can’t listen and move around? I’ve been known to start an audio book and then cheat by getting the digital version “just to help” and then end up abandoning the audio book altogether. I don’t have any problems at all listening to podcasts. I’m just a peculiar sort, I guess. 🙂 I’m going to reread through this post and keep it as a resource until these ears of mine get audio listening down! (I guess it’s probably a brain issue but you know what I mean.) Thanks for all you and your team do!

  3. Milena says:

    I struggle mightily with audiobooks – I love reading, but listening to an audiobook is so difficult for me. This posting gave me some great techniques to try again with audiobooks. Way too often, I have started an audiobook only to abandon it for the text version. It never crossed my mind that I might have an audio style…you are so clever.

  4. Mary in TN says:

    My father and I shared books on cassettes and later CDs. Dick Francis, Clive Cussler, and James Herriot were my favorite.

    Question— on the Audible app on my iPhone ALL of the books I’ve purchased or downloaded for free remain in my cloud list. I would like to remove the books I’ve finished or didn’t like. IS THERE A WAY TO DO THAT?

    • Elizabeth says:

      You can delete things from Audible’s cloud. Go to Amazon’s website on a computer, choose the pull down menu and go to Content and Devices. From there you can choose your Audible books and organize into categories, delete stuff, or share with members of your Amazon Household.

    • Bruna says:

      If you didn’t like a book, or won’t listen again, you can return it on audible – on the website, not the app (and get another credit). They don’t let me return anymore because I have reached their limit (which is actually a big one – oops), but if you would just like to not see the finished books anymore, you can go on the top of the list and where it says all titles, mark the selection that says unfinished, and it will only display the unfinished ones. Hope that was clear enough!

  5. Ellen Cole says:

    Having someone read to me is one of life’s greatest joys. I started listening to audiobooks about 10 years ago and I’ve never looked back. Initially, I only did it on road trips, but now I average a 1 hour each way commute for work, so I get a lot more listening time. I’ve recently started listening to Rosamund Pilcher books (I’d read and loved The Shell Seekers many years ago) and it has been lovely to be transported to the world she creates. One of my favorite audiobook experiences is The Mitford Series by Jan Karon. I’d read the first book years ago and it was just okay. My best friend suggested I try the audiobook format and I’ve listened and re-listened to the entire series ever since. John McDonough is the narrator and he is absolutely fabulous. This is a perfect example of the narrator making all of the difference!

  6. Amy says:

    ALWAYS listen to the sample first. The narrator can make or break it for you. But just because you don’t like it on audio, doesn’t mean you won’t like it in print. My style is narrative non-fiction, heavy on true crime and recent (last 50 years) history. Also love celebrity memoir. Good way to dip your toes in the water is the Levar Burton Reads podcast – it’s Reading Rainbow for adults.

  7. Patty Shaughnessy says:

    I would not be able to make it through the nightmarish traffic of Boston if I did not have my audiobooks to listen to!

    • Ellen Cole says:

      EXACTLY! My “average” Boston commute is an hour each way for a 15 mile distance…sometimes it’s 90 minutes. I love listening to audiobooks and using that time for good!

  8. Halie says:

    I started listening to audio books about three years ago, upped my game last year, but really hit my stride this year. I’d say, audio books account for about 50% of my annual total books read.I listen in the car (via aux cable), walking to & from the parking deck at work, and washing dishes/cleaning house (via blue tooth head phones). I get ALL of my books through the Libby app, which is what my local library uses to borrow digital audio books…

    To find which audio books I want to listen to, I use the MMD blog posts, WSIRN podcast, and a few other resources (i.e. my favorite IG book accounts, Reese Witherspoon’s picks, etc…) to add to my Goodreads TBR (to-be-read) list. Then I compare that list with the books my library offers through Overdrive/Libby, and add to my “wish list” or place a hold. My library offers a great selection of current & new releases, plus TONS more back-list titles that I’m always perusing. It’s extremely easy, and I’ve literally never had a problem with it. I actually use the Overdrive website (on the computer) to keep up with my lists & holds, and then the actual Libby phone app to do the listening. I’ve got it all down perfectly now, and as soon as I finish one audio book, I’ve always got the next one waiting on my digital Libby “shelf,” so I can start it up right away.

  9. Sandy says:

    Lately I’m finding that audiobooks are filling my need to read more than actual reading. I can do so much more at the same time and know that I’m still reading. There are some books that are definitely more listenable than others. Listening to a sample helps because readers make or break a good listen!

  10. Becky says:

    Audiobooks entered my life when our first child started the college search adventure and I had some solo trips. Listening to music on the radio or cassettes just didn’t work for me. Since I was a romance reader at that time, I decided to try a Jude Devereaux book, Knight in Shining Armour that I had read and liked on audio cassettes. That was an excellent idea and I became hooked on audiobooks.

    My trick with non-fiction is to listen a cd (about an hour) at a time. A few of my favorites have been The Big Burn by Timothy Egan (I liked that book so much that I read the print version later), memoirs by Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sottamayor, and a very long book about the Arlington Cemetery. When it comes to non-fiction the narrator makes a huge difference. Some of them just drone on and on or have a voice that hurts my ears.

    Mysteries of all kinds and thrillers are the favorites at our house. It is a bonus when a series has one reader for all the books. Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries had that with the excellent Judy Kaye who is the voice of Kinsey for us. If we were going to choose our all-time favorite audiobook, both of us would name the Harry Potter series read by Jim Dale who is amazing.

  11. Pat Norton says:

    This is a little off from answering your question, but I often make choices for audiobooks based on knowing what I will and will not enjoy reading. If I am pretty sure that I won’t be able to sit through reading the book, but I want to – then I try getting it on audiobooks. That is often the ticket for me!

    • Nancy says:

      This is 100% true for me also! An audiobook narrator does some of the work, putting in pauses and emphasizing the right things to make a dense text more readable. It’s how I finally read and learned to enjoy Pride and Prejudice.

  12. Rosalind says:

    If anyone is interested in the trying a different genre (great tip btw, Anne :), I just finished listening to the audiobook for ‘Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow’ by Jessica Townsend and narrated by Gemma Whelan and it was amazing!
    It’s a middle grade book, so there is no complicated plot to follow. The narrator is great at distinctive voices, so there is never an issue knowing which character is speaking and there is so much added to the production (music etc), which makes it so much fun to listen to.

  13. Lisa says:

    I am the opposite! Most of my audiobooks are Self-Help genre. My favourite books are Brene Brown a majority of her books are read by her and they are fantastic. I often pause the book and add a note to my phone while doing chores. If I’m driving I will note the chapter or screen shot my phone to listen to later. I’m really excited to try memoirs, thank you for your tips!

  14. Mary Lou says:

    I am a fan of audible books, mainly because I can (and have) returned books that I don’t like, and receive an instant credit. Also, I have found that books read by the authors often don’t work for me – a few exceptions: Carley Simon’s Boys in Trees was great, maybe because she is in show business to begin with, and also two of Elizabeth Warren’s books read by her were very well done. I am both a story driven and character driven reader. For my audible reads, I find the story driven books work best for me. Consequently, writers like John Grisham, Scott Trurow and Stephen King work very well for me on audible. And my all time favorite audible book, which, coincidentally is my all time favorite book, is To Kill a Mockingbird, read by Sissy Spacek – I can’t recommend this version highly enough! Sissy Spacek killed it.

    • Sue says:

      To hear Sissy Spacek read To Kill a Mockingbird would be INCREDIBLE (I love Sissy ever since I saw her in Coal Miner’s Daughter), but have you heard Reese Witherspoon read “To Set A Watchman”? She’s awesome, a real daughter of the south, and I SAW Reese as Scout (Jean Louise) the whole time I listened to it.

  15. Liz Snell says:

    I listen & knit, mostly on airplanes. I love the feature of listen And read, which syncs automatically where you left off. For me non fiction & memoir work really well. I do not have the patience from the page but listening is perfect. Best audio: Trevor Noah, Born a Crime. Also great Cokie Roberts, Capital Dames & all of Anne Lamott 😊

  16. Rachel Z says:

    I read almost exclusively on Kindle and I love taking advantage of the audible narration deals that are often available when you purchase a Kindle book. I can tack on the Audible version for $7 or so (sometimes less than that!) and then easily switch formats back and forth (the 2 formats link up so it remembers your place across platforms). This is especially great for those un-put-downable reads!

    I’m currently listening to The Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, which is read by the author. I wasn’t totally sold on it – I can be fussy about memoirs – but the premise is really fascinating. It’s been a wonderful surprise. Emotional and well-written and she reads it beautifully.

  17. Raela says:

    I’m a heavy audiobook listener! It has saved me so many times (looking at you, 4 months of marathon training!). I’ve noticed that, with series, if I’ve started the series on audio, I don’t want to switch to print on the next books. Sometimes it makes for a longer wait to get to a new release in the series, but I’ve found I really resist switching. There are certain series or authors where I don’t even think about format…I just know that’s one of my audiobook reads and I’ll wait to listen to it. (This has occasionally been really interesting when there’s a different narrator partway through a series, e.g. Julia Spencer Fleming’s series)

  18. Ashley says:

    I love listening to audiobooks in the car with my kids while we are driving to and from after school activities, however, the Overdrive app (at least in my library system) only allows for 21 day checkouts. We have found that our library has a huge collection of cd books and, especially for backlist books, they can be renewed for up to 9 weeks. We have recently been working our way through Jan Karon’s Mitford series (a longtime favorite of mine that has been a joy to share with my teens).

  19. Jeannine Loftus says:

    Love this post! I use Audio-books regularly and it’s a game changer. I listen to fiction & biographies for the most part then when I can sit down and read I lean toward non-fiction. I am constantly adjusting my reading speed based on the narrator’s pace and whether or not there is a foreign accent involved. I too slow down in the beginning sometimes. I find some books that shift back and forth in time are hard especially if the narrator doesn’t read the person name and time frame at the chapter heading. For the life of me I cannot imagine why they’d skip this but they do sometimes. I use Overdrive/Libby through my library, Kindle unlimited (with audio available) and Audible. The best Audible plan I have found so far is the never advertised Silver plan. $15 every two months with 2 credits ($7.50/month), you have to ask for it specifically via call or chat with them (no idea why). Audiobooks make my long traffic-y commutes bearable…

    If you use Overdrive/Libby you have more control over the speed than is obvious, place your finger on the speed icon and drag down slowly and you can fine tune listening speed rather than the increments they give.

    I’ve started listening on walks and that has gotten me out walking more. I tried at the gym but that was too loud to concentrate.

  20. I’m super funny about audiobooks—I’ll only let myself listen to the audio version after reading the print version (mostly because I feel like I get more out of a text by reading it rather than listening to it, period).

    Thanks for your narrator recommendations! I’d tried branching out a few times after strictly only listening to Jim Dale (Harry Potter) for years, but I was so disappointed with the majority that I just ended up going right back to listening to HP again, ha ha. I’m excited to try out those others you mentioned!

  21. Bruna says:

    I looove audiobooks so much. I have been listening since 2015, and at first it was hard to get into – I thought I didn’t like being read to and that they wouldn’t be for me, but then something just clicked – the combination of excellent narrators and books that were fun and fast-paced (good for audio on my opinion). Now I will listen to almost anything, and some books are easier to listen than to read with my eyes. I used to listen only on my commutes, but now that I have shorter commutes I will just listen during meals or just laying on the couch and playing a phone game (super lazy, I know). Also, my ears are broken, and I can only listen at 1.5x sometimes 1.8x or even 2x now. I hate the concept that audiobook is not “reading” or is cheating and I never thought that, because reading is not a test that you take to prove whether or not you are good at it. What really matters is interpreting and absorbing a text no matter the format!

  22. Jan says:

    I SO agree that it’s important to find your style. My husband used to listen to talk radio on road trips, and that would just put me to sleep, so I was very hesitant to try audiobooks. I assumed they would make me sleepy, too. But once I found a style that worked for me, I became an avid listener, and I’ve since added other genres/styles as well. Some I highly recommend: A Gentleman in Moscow (read by Nicholas Guy Smith); The Boys in the Boat (read by Edward Herrmann); Sisters First (read by the Bush twins); The Magnolia Story (ready by the authors). I think our family’s all-time favorite, though, was the Ramona & Beezus stories by Beverly Cleary. They’re read by Stockard Channing, and she does an outstanding job. I may have enjoyed them more as an adult than I did as a child!

    • Sue says:

      I second “A Gentleman in Moscow”—incredibly well read and absorbing!! One of the best, and I had to buy my own copy. Also, “A Man Called Ove” another perfectly read book that I got actually got MORE out of in audio than in print, and I thought I really loved the print version!

  23. Mary says:

    Thanks for all of the great audio suggestions! I started listening last year (after one of your podcast episodes that focused on audiobooks). Now, I am hooked. I listen a lot in the car and also while folding laundry and cooking dinner.

    I don’t usually care for thrillers, but for some reason I love them on audio. The Silent Patient and An Anonymous Girl are just a couple that quickly come to mind.

    I also get deeply discounted audiobooks through Chirp – and then listen to them through the Chirp app.

    As always, thank you for the bookish advice!

  24. Nancy says:

    I listen to lots of fiction and some memoirs while driving. But I’ve learned to avoid books that have multiple narrators or that jump around in place or time. It’s easy to get confused and difficult to reread or check on something, compared to a print text where you can easily flip back a few pages to check on something you might have missed. Seemingly everyone loved All the Light We Cannot See, but I struggled to get through it and enjoy the audiobook. I think all the moving around in time and between characters was a big reason why.

  25. Stephanie says:

    The narrator can make or break the audiobook. It doesn’t matter how good the book is if you spend the entire time cringing and trying to “reread” the sentences in your head to get the phrasing right.

    Also, be aware when listening to series that sometimes the narrator changes part way through. The Sword of Truth series wasn’t great as far as the writing went, but Dick Hill is a fabulous narrator for the first book. (I agree that accents are a plus when done well.) But at some point another guy took over and mispronounced names of people and places to the point that I spent more time trying to figure out WHO he was talking about and WHERE the heck they were than following the story.

  26. Sue says:

    Wait a minute: Point 4. “Try speeding it up.” Huh?? What do you mean? Obviously you don’t mean speed up the car, so…I have no idea how you can speed up the audio. I listen only to actual CD’s in my car or at home. But then in Point 5 you mention 2x or 1.5x……is this possible only thru computer, like audible? Doesn’t it distort the voice or anything?

    • Donna says:

      The Audible app allows you to adjust the narrator’s speed. So if you listen off your phone or other mobile device, you can customize your listening experience.

      • Donna says:

        I have been an Audible member for over 10 years, and own about 400 audiobooks. I have given up satellite TV before Audible.

        A few points:
        –I listen at bedtime via my iPod. I sometimes have trouble falling asleep, or I wake up in the middle of the night, and the book helps soothe me (more than music can).

        –I do not listen while I drive I find it distracting

        –Free from the library is great, but Audible has *many* sales. If you have Amazon Prime, you can share all the books with your family members. This is helpful for my husband the business traveler and my son who is dyslexic and needs reliable audiobooks for school.

        –Audible Escape is also available with basically unlimited books that you borrow instead of purchase. They are heavily romance oriented but there is a huge variety and more general fiction than you might think. The monthly fee is quite reasonable.

        –Some outstanding narrators include: Simon Prebble, Davina Porter, January Lavoy, Julia Whalen, Therese Plummer, Nicholas Boulton, Alex Wyndham, and Andi Arndt.

    • Bruna says:

      I don’t know if CDs can be sped up (I haven’t owned a CD player for years now), but on any listening app that is possible. It sort of distorts the voice, but somehow it works. Some voices sound more normal sped up, to me at least.

    • Anne says:

      Sue, chiming in to hear to say that you can speed up the narration in an audiobook app like Libro.fm or Audible. I’ll add a screenshot to this post right now so you can see what I’m talking about.

  27. Jessica C says:

    I don’t think I’m ever going to be a prolific audiobook listener, but I do have somewhat of a grasp on what I like and don’t like. I’m the opposite of Anne in that I listen mostly to nonfiction. Memoirs read by the author are the most successful for me. I also will listen to re-reads of favorite series. It helps that most of those have fantastic British narrators (e.g. Maisie Dobbs, Harry Potter, Flavia de Luce.) The audiobook I listened to most recently was Stargirl, which didn’t fit into any of my audiobook “rules”. I definitely enjoyed it, but continue to wonder if the experience of reading the physical copy would have been even better. (That niggling fear doesn’t really apply to nonfiction.) I think it helped that it was pretty short. I like to have that tactile indication of how much further I have to go (which you can’t really get with audio and/or ebooks) and I really love podcasts, so shorter is usually better. I also will occasionally try the audiobooks of classics that are–for whatever reason–daunting to me on paper (e.g. I listened to Le Morte d’Arthur which I never would’ve finished or probably even attempted on my own. Derek Jacobi’s narration rendered it palatable.)

  28. Susannah says:

    I love audio, and look forward to a long trip to listen (as well as reading books at home) but it’s gotten to the point that I feel AGITATED if I don’t have an audiobook to listen to even for a 5 min. trip to the grocery store, I’m that hooked!
    But my 81 yr old mother has taken it to another level, mostly listening ONLY to audiobooks, not because she can’t see to read, but because a car accident has made her neck sore, and she has trouble bending her head for long periods to read or figuring out how to prop the book (any suggestions, readers?). So she loves to lie flat on her bed and just listen to her CD player, and I’m getting her one audiobook after another from the library and my own personal collection. I agree, the narrator can really make or break a book; mostly they are good, sometimes outstanding, but occasionally their VOICE can just set your teeth on edge, or when a woman reads the man’s parts, she just doesn’t do it right (or vice versa). Case in point, the narrator of “Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters, read the man’s part in such a fussy, old man voice that I totally missed that he would turn out to be the eventual “hero” love interest! Really threw me. Mom, too!

    • Anne says:

      It’s so good to hear that audiobooks are making reading possible for your mom right now. That’s fun that you and your mom can compare notes—it sounds like you’re enjoying some of the same books. 🙂

      • Susannah says:

        Absolutely! We DO enjoy the same books. I read the book copy, and she listens to it on audio! We talk about it in the car as I take her to doctor’s appts, etc.

  29. AnnA says:

    Audiobooks are taking over my reading life right now, after a struggle with getting used to them. This blog post is further help–filled with suggestions as it is. Have read your earlier podcasts and blogs about listening to books, and thank you for your advice. I am loving the audiobook experience for so many reasons, but probably would not have persisted in getting into it without your assistance. Many thanks!

  30. Meghan says:

    I love to listen to a great storyteller sharing their personal experiences on audiobook. I listened to “Save me the Plums” by Ruth Reichl and “Inheritance” by Dani Shapiro (both SRG choices) and absolutely loved them. I also really loved “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, although it was fiction, because the narrator shared the intimacy of the story so well that I almost felt like it was memoir.
    I realized thrillers that I loved to read in physical format (like “Recursion” by Blake Crouch) didn’t work well for me on audio, because even with the speed turned up, my ears didn’t seem to consume the prose the way my eyes do!

  31. Tracy says:

    I have wanted to add audiobooks to my reading life for a long time but after recently trying one and having to switch to the hard book, I grudgingly accepted that it wasn’t for me. After reading Anne’s post, I’m encouraged to learn that a failure with one book (and one method) doesn’t have to be the end. I’m so excited to try her suggestions, as well as Sarah’s suggestion regarding rereads!

  32. Jessica says:

    I’m glad you didn’t resist giving those recommendations at the end! I’m buying all of them. I love listening to audiobooks while I’m getting the housework done, especially laundry and cooking.

  33. Sarah Christy says:

    I love audiobooks. My all time favorite was Becoming by Michelle Obama. She did a wonderful job of narrating. It felt like she was talking to me. I am regular audiobook subscriber at my library. They switched from Overdrive to Libby. They changed from sending an e-mail the required downloading it within 48 hrs. Now they automatically borrow it for you and it downloads and is ready to go. Really handy when I was on vacation without wifi access. My book was read for me when I got down to normal elevations. Recently I started Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate on audio but was hard to get everything straight because it went back and forth from voices and time. Ended up getting a paperback copy so I can go back and forth. Anne, love your tip about increasing speed after you get the characters, setting, etc straight. I love audiobooks for all those boring tasks I must do and I love books to hold and mark-up. I just love books!

  34. Guests says:

    I’ve realized that I ONLY like to listen to audiobooks in the car. Same with podcasts. For years I’ve thought I hated podcasts. Turns out, I do fine with The Daily because I can listen to it during school dropoff or pickup.

    Listening to a great audiobook in the car almost makes me excited to have to go run an errand and it passes the time! Listening to Unmarriageable right now and enjoying it.

  35. I haven’t yet, but I’m looking forward to reading the comments as much as I loved reading this post!

    What I have learned – I prefer reading thrillers (then they are true page-turners and feel like quick reads) than listening to them. Sometimes a narrator reading makes them aloud makes them sound hokey, rather than thrilling.

    I also love when memoirs, are read by the author. Especially if that author is a comedian!

    I agree that even the best audiobooks are tough to get into – getting used to the narrator’s style, establishing focuses, understanding the setting and characters. And this happens nearly every time for me. But once I get going, I gain momentum. I like the advice to start an audiobook with a good chunk of time.

    Fiction almost always works for me, with a few exceptions. One of my top narrators to listen to is Julia Whelan.

    I do have to add that my house has never been so clean with all the audiobooks I’ve been listening to! 🙂 I’ve also become less stressed during my commute and driving in traffic.

  36. Kristin Fields says:

    My first audiobook I listened to was Becoming which I got free from Audible. It was a great introduction to audiobooks! I usually listen in the car and I have gradually sharpened my attention as I listen to more books. I am nearing 70 and find I cannot listen to an audiobook at too high a speed. It totally depends how fast the author speaks with the normal speed to begin with for me. I usually listen at 1.25 now. My favorite genres to listen to: memoir, cosy mystery, and thriller.

  37. Angela says:

    Love this post!! Libby is my go to for audio books. I find that my LA Public Library card provides me with so many titles (I’ll wait out a hold) that I haven’t been using my Libro.fm credits! My preferred audio book is much different than my paper book habits. I mostly listen to memoirs and personal essays but I rarely enjoy a book memoir. On the flip side, most audio fiction doesn’t attract me but I devour paper novels.

  38. Emily says:

    I *loved* Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson on audio! Love her stories and she’s also a gifted narrator.

    I see one positive comment above, but has anyone else listened to Louise Penny’s books on audio? Book 4 is coming up on my TBR and I was thinking about trying out a listen.

    • Beth says:

      Yes, I’ve listened to all the Louise Penny books and the narrator’s voice (Ralph Cosham) is the voice of the Three Pines characters for me. (Even though the last 1 or 2 had to have a new narrator.) I highly recommend!

  39. Ah! I love these tips, thank you – and the recommended reads to suit your particular tastes! Even after years of meaning to get onto audiobooks, and a couple short spells with them, I find myself caught in an endless spiral of podcasts – there are just SO MANY I love (including yours!) and they update SO OFTEN! I think I need to bite the bullet, hide the Podcast app for a day or two, and get stuck in properly. Thanks for the tips!

  40. I discovered audio books a couple of years ago via the App LibriVox. It has modern books for pay; however, I set it to the free selection and find I have more than I will ever have time to listen to. I have discovered great vintage books read by fabulous modern readers like Karen Savage and Elizabeth Klett. Mil Nicholson makes Dickens novels come to life! I love that some of the books are read dramatically by a full cast of readers. The App also boasts Old Time Radio programs that take me back in time to childhood before Television and Internet were household words.

  41. Beth says:

    I’ve been an audiobook listener since back when I had to rent cassette tapes for my long daily commute—they’ve come a long way since then. Currently I listen to many more than I read with my eyes—mostly for the multitasking. I particularly love mysteries and other absorbing plots and I, too, am a sucker for a narrator with an accent. I second the advice to listen to the samples. A good narrator will have me listening to books I might not have read, but a bad one that I failed to sample is my most common reason for returning or not finishing an audio book.
    There are two kinds of books that I still need to read on my kindle or in a physical book, though. If there are lots of characters, especially if they have foreign names, it’s more difficult for me to keep them straight on audio. Also, if there are difficult sections of the book that I want to skip, child abuse for example, it is easier to turn pages and see what I don’t want to read rather than blindly skipping sections of an audio book.

  42. Becky says:

    Historical fiction, as well as nonfiction, have proven be my audio favorites. I feel like I’m learning from the narrator with each read. I have a 2hr commute to my weekend home and for 90% of the route I have no phone service. I have a 20-30min commute to work weekdays. I work out at the gym. All these time wasters (yes the gym too) are why I love audiobooks.

    • Anne says:

      Becky, between the commute and the gym, it sounds like you can get a TON of listening in! I’m glad there’s a bright side to that “wasted” time.

  43. NaptimeSeamstress says:

    I’ve enjoyed all the audio reccommendations! One burning question: how does everyone else keep their audiobooks organized and know what they have? We have Audible, Chirp, and Learning Ally (a subscription service for dyslexics), plus the ability to listen thru Libby and Hoopla. Plus the old fashioned CDs! How can I keep track of which books I own (Audible or Chirp, CD) and which books I can access through Libby and Hoopla?

  44. Joy in Alabama says:

    I need advice. We have just moved to the middle of nowhere (transferred) and I’m going to be doing a lot of driving. I cannot afford to pay for audio books. Our library seems to have long waits for books on Libby (I just waited for about 4 months to get a Jane Austen and then Jane Eyre came in at the same time after a similar length of time so now I have to hurry through both) and then they cannot be renewed. Where else can I get them for free??

  45. Deann Randle says:

    This librarian (and audio listener) absolutely loved this article and comments. They just added so much to my personal and professional life! My favorite listen this year was Artemis by Andy Weir (The Martian), narrated by the fabulously gifted Rosario Dawson. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  46. Melanie E. says:

    I definitely agree about the memoir format being a good one for me. I keep re-listening to “Shortest Way Home” by Pete Buttigieg. (He’s the “Mayor Pete” who is running for president.) His voice is so soothing and his story and intelligence are evident in his prose and narration.

    Still need to check out Michelle Obama’s book!

  47. Rebekah Kowalski says:

    I also love audio for books that have a lot of parts in other languages, like the Temperance Brennan series with a lot of French Canadian or the Gabriel Allon series with various European and Arab text sections. If I read them, I butcher the pronunciation and get annoyed. But with a good reader, I can enjoy them.

  48. Amanda says:

    I love to get both the print book and audio book from the library at the same time… I think it was a tip from you many moons ago. I prefer to start a book in print to get oriented to the characters and plot foundation then I’m off to the races on audio when I’m driving and working around the house. The stars don’t always align to have both my print and audio hold available simultaneously, but when it happens… MAGIC! 😊💫

  49. Lindsay says:

    Julia Whelan is the best narrator, hands down. I’ve listened to at least 3 of hers (off the top of my head, Educated, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and The Great Alone), and they are excellent. The narrative performance, when done well, really adds to the enjoyment of a good book.

  50. Robin M Cabana says:

    I find audio formats are great for SciFi or Fantasy books with really weird languages and names that I often struggle with in text, as well as books with a lot of techno babble or science like The Martian. I also love that you can really get value from your credits for long books. It’s a great way to tackle the long classics you’ve never gotten around to! I’m a big Star Wars fan and the production of those audiobooks are just so fun! Reading them the traditional way is just not as satisfying.

  51. Maria says:

    I love audio books narrated by women but I can’t stand a male narrator doing a female voice…LOL! Bianca Amato is one of my favorite narrators. Also, I appreciate the whispersync feature available on amazon and audible. You can switch between the two formats, ebook and audio, with ease. My guilty audiobook pleasure was listening to John Taylor from Duran Duran read me his book, “In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran”!

  52. Rebecca Safarcyk says:

    I recently got into audiobooks though it took a little bit of hit and miss to get me started. I prefer memoirs,I liked Inheritance by Dani Shapiro. I loved The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner, captivated my attention so much that I was finding ways to take a walk just so I could listen! I also enjoyed The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris and Rob Lowe’s book Stories I Only Tell My Friends. Getting ready to begin Carly Simon’s Boys in the Trees. Love listening to your podcast and reviews.

  53. WordTrix says:

    YouTube is an excellent source for free audiobooks, especially for classics or short stories.

    I’ve never been a big audiobook fan, but my breakthrough came a few years ago. I had tried reading
    “The Martian Chronicles” years earlier and could not get into it. Then I stumbled across it on YouTube and found it much easier to get into it by listening instead of reading.

    Same with Russian literature. I’ve found it easier to get through a couple novellas by Pushkin and Dostoevsky by listening to them, whereas I would have given up on a print copy.

    BTW, the annoying pop-up ads that keep popping up after you’ve closed them make it really difficult to both read and respond to posts. I’ve clicked them closed a dozen times already, and even had to rewrite this post because one of the pop-ups made my post disappear.

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