Are you someone who’s loathed the entire concept of audiobooks, to begin with? Or are you someone who sleeps as soon as you put your headphones on, and play an audiobook? Well, worry not, because your savior is here! Jokes apart, you can be assured that your likelihood of listening to and enjoying an audiobook would rise significantly after reading this article.
Benefits Of Listening To Audiobooks
I’ve been on the other end too: of those who can never enjoy the medium of audiobooks. Either because they felt too boring, or didn’t have that immersive factor that reading entailed. But it changed, and how! Even though I still go through all my reads in their printed form, I visit and revisit several of their audio adaptations from time to time, as well. And it’s all because of how tempting they are!
But before we jump into the art of falling in love, let’s first see why love merits a chance in the first place, eh?
There are numerous advantages, ranging from improvement in reading speed, accuracy, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension to developing your listening skills. From my perspective, though, these are not reasons enough. We watch movies and listen to their dialogues too, right? Isn’t that serving the same purpose, to an extent?
I find listening to audiobooks very beneficial because of multiple reasons.
1️⃣ One, they help utilize time. Hours of it! Anytime you’re doing any activity that doesn’t require any/much cognitive thinking, from driving, cleaning your house to washing your dishes, or cooking, you can plug in an audiobook of your choice. Suddenly the house chores cease being monotonous and get filled with color and purpose.
2️⃣ Two, they are entertaining, sometimes even more than just reading it. Even though I’d have just finished a book, I often go back to certain segments just to experience it in the audiobook format. Once you fall in love with audiobooks, I tell you, my dear friends, there’s no going back!
3️⃣ Three, it becomes dreary and difficult to read books for those who work in front of screens all day. Enter audiobooks, and you can listen while relaxing and giving your eyes some much-needed rest.
4️⃣ Four, you can enjoy a book with your entire family: just play it on the speakers! Five, they cost much less than what a physical copy would usually cost you. And they don’t even occupy any space!
Now that we’ve seen a lot of the “why”, let’s go deep into the “how” part.
1. Listen To Your Favorite Books
This was how I first forayed into the unknown lands of audiobooks: by listening to the Harry Potter series, gorgeously narrated by Stephen Fry. It was a familiar world, and yet, in a way, unfamiliar. Fry bought the characters alive with his deep, dramatic narration, and it was nothing short of a revelation for me. The gates of Hogwarts had been opened for this reader, again, although in a different format.
When you listen to the audiobook version of a piece you’ve already read, it allows you to relax and not worry about missing out on any portion or feeling bored after a while. And this allows you to revisit the same words you’ve loved before but through a different medium. And who knows what you may find there?
2. Try Some Dramatized Versions
This was how I truly fell in love with audiobooks. For the unawares, dramatized audiobooks are productions created with sound effects and background music to infuse more life into the story. Often they feature several voice actors who play different characters from the story. In short, a movie exclusively for your ears (sorry, eyes!).
Take, for example, the unabridged audiobook adaptation of the Lord of the Rings series by Phil Dragash. As a result of a passionate fan project, the audiobooks bring Tolkien’s story alive in an almost impossible way to replicate. I fell in love with Middle Earth even more as I listened to Dragash’s version, mesmerizingly coupled with Howard Shore’s background score.
Do you find some of those heavy classical pieces intimidating? With BBC’s dramatized and abridged audiobooks, produced with a large cast of voice actors, you can travel through stories in a much shorter span. Take, for example, Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, one of the longest pieces to have come out in the last few decades, but which is available as an audiobook that is less than 6 hours in length.
Or War and Peace, Tolstoy‘s great historical drama, which can be devoured in less than 10 hours with the dramatized adaptation. Not just that, there’s Dickens, Austen, The Brontë Sisters, Wilde, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Allan Poe: you name it!
These dramatized versions let you access a story in an otherwise impossible way. There’s no trimming of plot points as in movies, and yet it’s filled with the energy and activity of a motion picture adaptation.
3. Get The Story Straight From The Author
Are you mad in love with an author and their works? Perhaps you’d like to listen to them narrate their books? After all, who’s more familiar with the ups and downs of their piece than the one who wrote it in the first place? You can hear Michelle Obama read her journey in Becoming or Stephen King sharing some writing tips in his book, On Writing.
Toni Morrison brings her hauntingly beautiful piece to life with Beloved, Alicia Keys recalls her journey in More Myself, and Neil Gaiman takes you into an ancient world with Norse Mythology. Caroline Criado Perez passionately points out the gender bias in our world in Invisible Women. In contrast, Philip Pullman creates a bewitching world in the Northern Lights, the first installment in His Dark Materials series.
With these audiobooks, you get a better glimpse into the mind of the one who’s writing the book. In turn, it also allows the author to pull you into their work even more convincingly and breathe life into their own words as they want. It feels as if they’re having a conversation with you over tea, in real-time, rather than you reading them in a detached manner.
4. Explore New Stories Through Your Favorite Narrators
Who wouldn’t want to listen to stories being narrated by their favorite celebrities? There’s no dearth of masterful audiobook adaptations done by celebrities all around the world. Take, for example, the eerily done narration of Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, voiced none other than by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Or Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, which has been narrated by multiple celebrities, from David Sedaris to Don Cheadle to Susan Sarandon. Or Homer’s Odyssey, which Sir Ian McKellen has splendidly narrated. Or the chilling narration of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
It becomes much easier to navigate once you’ve listened to a few audiobooks. You can explore new titles based on the narrators. Tom Hiddleston, Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Stephen Fry, Meryl Streep, Tim Curry, Anne Hathaway: the narrators are many, the possibilities endless!
5. Some Additional Tips
Make sure to change the speed of the audiobook depending on the narration speed and your preferences. Often, readers fall asleep while listening to an audiobook, and, more often than not, it is because the narration is slower than what they’d prefer. Speeding it up helps keep it engaging.
Some genres are better suited to the audiobook format than others. As a general rule, the more entertaining a book is, the better its audiobook version would be. Therefore, it’s usually preferable to avoid listening to technical books.
As happens with everything, not all audiobooks are great. Many audiobook versions offer a better experience than the paper book, while some do not as much. If you don’t resonate with an author, discard it and try something better.
Conclusion: Not only do you save time and energy, but you also get to save money with audiobooks that you can spend on more books. It also helps improve your phonemic comprehension, pronunciation, and language fluency. There’s a large world of audiobooks out there, and it would be silly for you not to experience their benefits.
I hope these steps will help you fall in love with audiobooks, even if you’ve never been a fan of them before. They can infuse life into a dreary text, make your favorite story even more alive, and bring out the best from a story.
Part-time freelance writer, full-time chemistry graduate student, Amritesh loves everything books. Gift him a book if you chance upon him, and he’ll love you forever.