Do I Like Some Books Better as Audiobooks? Let’s Discuss.

Posted December 21, 2017 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Let's Discuss / 33 Comments

I’ve noticed a trend in my reading: I tend to like certain types of books better when I listen to them. I think this has a whole lot to do with my attention span.

When I listen to an audiobook, my expectations are different. I find that certain books (especially those with a lot of detail) are much more palatable for me as audiobooks for a few different reasons:

  • With audiobooks, I expect the “reading” process to be long and drawn-0ut over several days or even weeks since I listen mostly when I’m in the car (or doing chores like laundry). Since the listening process is already longer, I don’t get as impatient with the details as I do when I read. I don’t feel the need to “hurry up” like I sometimes do with reading.
  • Sometimes breaks from a book can be a positive thing. Especially with books that are very long and detailed, I might prefer to read them in smaller pieces, but I generally don’t allow myself that option when I read.
  • I find that detailed descriptions are easier for me to listen to than to read because I’m usually multi-tasking while listening. While reading, I might be tempted to skim through long descriptions, but while listening, I find that the multi-tasking part of my brain is fine with focusing a bit less on the book and more on whatever else I’m doing. I actually think I absorb more of the details this way than I do when I read because I find myself skimming.
    • I should note that some people have a hard time with this. They tend to zone out completely during these parts and lose the thread of the audiobook. I don’t do this. I still manage to listen even during parts that aren’t as exciting, so I don’t lose track of the plot.
  • The vocal performance of a book often draws me into the story more. A good narrator can make me care even more about the characters than I might otherwise have and can convey emotion. Characters I might not have cared as much about on paper come alive to me through great narration.
  • UPDATE: While responding to comments, I came up with one more theory about why slower books work better for me as audiobooks, and I thought I’d add it here. Audiobooks are automatically paced (too slow—I almost always listen to audiobooks at 1.5x speed), so that means I can’t get slogged down in the slow parts of a book. While reading, I might slow down my reading pace during those parts and feel like it’s taking too long, but the audiobook keeps chugging along at the same pace no matter what!

Because of these things, I sometimes find that books that I started to read but didn’t capture my attention right away or books that I keep meaning to read, but can’t quite work up excitement about work really well for me as audiobooks. I’ve sometimes wondered if I rate books higher as audiobooks than I would have if I’d read them. At least when it comes to those more dense reads (I don’t feel like this holds as true with light and fluffy books, which I think I just prefer to read). I don’t know that I’ll ever have a definitive answer for this, but it’s a sneaking suspicion…

In the end, I’m happy that I have different methods of reading books that suit me in different ways. If audiobooks amp my enjoyment of certain types of books, yay for that! I’m also wondering if I read ebooks vs. physical copies “differently.” I have an idea that I might, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Hmmmm….

Do you ever prefer an audiobook to a “regular” book? Do you find that you enjoy books differently in different formats? I want to know!


33 responses to “Do I Like Some Books Better as Audiobooks? Let’s Discuss.

  1. I’m prob not the best person to comment on this since I don’t do audiobooks. I can’t. My brain zones out even during the parts that aren’t detailed, so I can’t even imagine how quickly I’d zone out with dense books. Hell, I manage to zone out sometimes even while I’m actually reading with my eyes lol. But hey, whatever works for you! That’s great that you’ve found a way to enjoy some books that you otherwise might not have been able to get through!

  2. I love audiobooks – I find that some types work better than others – I need a fast paced story and can’t do non-fiction. But, sometimes I’m in the mood for audiobooks, and sometimes I’m not – same with physical and eBooks too.

    • It seems strange to me that slower paced stories work better for me as audiobooks than as physical books. I think I just thought of another reason why—the audiobook is “paced” automatically. I can’t get slogged down in the slower parts because they’re read at the exact same speed as the rest of the book. Oooh! I think I’ll go add that to my post! 🙂

  3. Ah, I am one of those people who cannot concentrate on an audiobook- definitely not while multi-tasking (which, probably shouldn’t be considered multi-tasking if I am actually failing at one of the tasks, right?). The only books I think I can do in audio are more fluffy types? I listened to a fluffy on my way to Michigan, and I think I’d do it again, but only a contemporary- and not a heavy one, either. I think my mind just can’t handle too much unknown information in audio format. Also, I wonder if this is related (OH POST IDEA!!!) but I wonder if visual learners have more trouble with audiobooks in general? What kind of learner are you? I think I am going to do a discussion about this!

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron: Review & Giveaway
    • For me, it has to be a mindless task that I’m doing for the multi-tasking. Driving works well (yeah, I guess that really shouldn’t be mindless, but…). Also, doing laundry or dishes because I don’t have to think about those tasks at ALL. If I do anything that involves even the slightest bit of reading or concentration, I can’t do it. So, while I have no problem blogging and watching TV at the same time, I CAN’T blog and listen to an audiobook. (Hmmm… that is interesting. I guess that visual component helps me?).

      I have no idea what type of learner I am, but now I’m really curious…

  4. It depends on the audiobook. Most of the time, I prefer a print book or an ebook over an audiobook, but I’ve found that I can only read Narnia books when I listen to the audiobooks. I’m still working my way through the Girl Mans Up audiobook even though I found the print book at a book sale because I’m enjoying the narrator’s performance. My major problem with audiobooks is that my attention needs to be on the audiobook so that I know what’s going on. I haven’t found a mindless task yet that I can do while listening to it, so it’s been hard to finish. I’m open to the idea of audiobooks for the moment, but I think I’ll only do small doses for a while.

    Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf recently posted: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
    • I’m okay with driving or cleaning while listening to audiobooks, but anything that takes more brain power than that doesn’t really work for me. (For instance, if I’m driving somewhere I’m not familiar with and I have to concentrate on the turns, I have to turn my book off!)

  5. shooting

    I keep meaning to try audiobooks again, but we’ll see. hah I feel like I have less focus when I listen to things but I DO think your reasoning makes a lot of sense. I’m in a book club at the library and the librarian was talking about that this week – how certain books she CANNOT listen to via audiobook.


  6. I definitely have certain books that work well for me in audio – particularly thrillers and memoirs. I can’t listen to anything tooooooo long or I lose track of what is happening. I’ve definitely gotten into audiobooks far more in the last couple of years, and it is helping me to finish many more books!

  7. I know I enjoy some books better because I listen to them on audio verses reading them. I do better with audio for anything sci-fi, fantasy, non-fiction, or just really detailed or long. I have similar reasons to those you stated, and I’m sure I end up rating them higher than I would if I read them, so I also try to mention in my review that I listened on audio.

    Also, I was in a reading slump a couple of months ago (I just read your post from last week), and listening to audiobooks helped me continue “reading” while in that slump. I couldn’t motivate myself to read physical books, but I listened to a ton of audiobooks – while driving, doing chores, working, etc. Eventually, when my stress subsided, I was able to get back into reading. Now if only I could get back into blogging – I have been so unmotivated to write recently.

  8. Fabulous post. I just recently discovered audiobooks back in September. I was hesitant to try them out, but am so glad I did. I actually get a book done quicker then reading if I listen to it. I can multitask with the audiobooks. So far I have rated the books the same as if I was reading them. I do find I get a lot more out of the audiobooks. More comes across, more detail, more world building, and all-around more of everything.

    • Yeah, it seems weird, but I think my brain is able to absorb those details better when listening to them than when reading them. I think I get too antsy when reading and tend to skip past things (sometimes subconsciously), but I don’t do that as much with audiobooks.

  9. I was against audiobooks at first. Then I discoved text-to-speech on my kindle and I became hooked. I almost always listen to my books and I use Audible versions of a book if it is available. I actually prefer the text-to-speech over an audiobook since I have the option at any time to switch to reading instead of listening. I think it is unfair that audible books only let you listen and not read along.
    I much prefer listening to books. I still DNF once in a while but I get through a lot more books thanks to option to listen.
    Great topic!

    Karen Blue recently posted: Weekly Wrap Up #151
  10. I love audiobooks now and prefer them over ebooks, and I know exactly why. I am SO DISTRACTED by sloppy editing that if a book is missing commas where they’re supposed to be or has other syntax errors, these are things that I can’t *see* because I’m listening. Now, there are quite a few narrators that have sucked so if I was enjoying the story but not the narrator, I’ll go back to the ebook. I also listen at 1.5 speed and I’ve considered making that even faster now that I’m used to 1.5 speed. We’ll see. That might be a goal for 2018. 🙂 By the time 2017 is over, I’ll have listened to 24 audiobooks. I’m aiming for 30 next year!

    S. J. Pajonas recently posted: I’ve Been Sick…
  11. Yes! I have certain series that I enjoy much better as an audiobook, instead of reading it. I’ve found that sometimes I even enjoy non-fiction as an audiobook, even though I didn’t think I would. It helps me to keep going through the book I think, as opposed to if if I was reading a slow-going book in print. It seems like every year, I keep reading more and more audiobooks than the previous year — I’m hooked!

  12. I am a visual learner, so I struggle a little with audiobooks, but I have found contemporaries work well for me, since they are not as detailed as SFF books. I love listening to them when I am doing chores or running errands, and they have really helped me put a dent in my TBR. There is also some amazing voice talent out there, who really make the story come to life.

  13. AWESOME post!! I find it so interesting that some people love audiobooks and some can’t stand them. I think I’m somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.

    I do enjoy them quite a bit, but I do better with them when I also have the book in front of me and I can read along. Of course, I’m also a sucker for audiobooks because they can allow me to do other things like laundry, dishes, or driving, while still reading! When it all comes down to it though, I think the narrator is the reason why I will either be totally drawn in to an audiobook or will end up getting distracted and have to bail.

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