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Audiobooks 101 - Great post. I never have time to read anymore and have been wanting to try audiobooks while I do laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc.!

How to Get Started with Audiobooks

Do you guys ever listen to audiobooks at home?  Our in-house librarian, Janssen, swears by them for getting your reading fix while getting stuff done.  I’ve been totally intrigued by the idea but a little intimidated on how to get started with it all.

Today I’ve asked Janssen to give as quick tutorial: audiobooks 101.  Here’s everything you need to know to dive into reading with your ears…

I am a complete audiobook fiend. This year, I’ve listened to 22 of them so far – it’s just such a great way to fit more reading into my life.

I love audiobooks because it gives my brain something to focus on while I do mindless tasks throughout the day, like dishes or vacuuming, and keeps me from being bored during a long car drive or while I work on the computer.

I also love them because they are so fantastic – the narration these days is way better than the ones we listened to when I was a child, and I’m amazed by how fun it is to have someone read to you (even if it is occasionally embarrassing to be sitting at a stoplight with tears running down my face or laughing aloud when I’m alone). Some books are even done with full casts, with each character being read by a different narrator, original music, and sound effects. It’s very impressive.

Audiobooks are widely available now – most libraries have enormous digital collections that you can access from home, and you can always buy them through Audible (they have a free trial if you sign up). They are such a huge part of my life that if I don’t have a book on my phone, I start to feel antsy.

And I’m passing my love along to my children. My three-year-old picks out a big stack of picture books with accompanying CDs from the library each week and listens to them in her room during her quiet time each day.

If you are interested in starting to listen to audiobooks, here are some tips:

  1. Listening to audiobooks is a skill – start with really gripping, fun-to-listen to books (or maybe ones you’ve read in print), and work your way to harder books if you’re so inclined. But you probably don’t want to start with War and Peace. If you need recommendations, here are 25 of my all-time favorite audiobooks.
  2. Most libraries have a good-size collection of digital audiobooks that you can download through Overdrive. Just do a Google search for your library’s name and Overdrive, and it’ll probably come right up. You can browse the collection, place holds, make a wishlist, or download them to your computer.  Plus, all the books are FREE.
  3. If you have a smartphone (or an iPod Touch), it’s by far the easiest way to listen. You can download them straight to your phone and then listen to them wherever you go.  The Overdrive app lets you browse your library’s collection and download them all from the app, and the Audible app gives you access to basically ANY audiobook available, and you can purchase them in the app and have any book you can imagine in seconds. This tutorial for using the Overdrive app will have you up and running in ten minutes or less (I promise – it’s so easy).
  4. Exercising, chores, or driving are some of the easiest times to fit in audiobooks because it tends to be uninterrupted time. Plus, these are also some of the most boring things to do, at least for me, so it’s nice to have a great distraction.
  5. Try changing the speed. Both the Audible and Overdrive apps let you adjust how fast the narration is. I personally prefer double speed, but you can do 1.25x or 1.5x or 1.75x or even 0.75x. At first faster speed might sound like Donald Duck reading to you, but your brain is really quick to adjust to the faster speed. Give it five minutes. I find my brain wanders much less when I’m listening at a faster speed.
  6. If you really want to make things easy, grab an audiobook CD from your library and stick it in your car. Listen to it while you drive (when my children are a little older, I plan to listen to lots of books with them while we are in the car together).

Do you have questions? Please leave them in the comments, and I’ll happily respond – this is one of my very favorite topics.



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Janssen is a former librarian and avid reader who is always maxing out her library card. She now stays at home with her two-year-old daughter (with another girl on the way) and blogs about books for readers of all ages, her favorite recipes, and parenting adventures at Everyday Reading.