I admit, I was a reluctant listener when it came to audiobooks. A friend first recommended Audible (Amazon’s audiobook website) to me in 2011, but I didn’t listen to my first book until early in 2015.
I was doing a lot of traveling at the time due to an international boyfriend situation, so was looking for new airplane entertainment. I signed up for a trial membership of Audible and selected Amy Poehler’s memoir Yes, Please!, which I’d been meaning to read for awhile but hadn’t yet picked up.
I listened in small intervals, enjoying the story and the little something extra that you get when authors read their own writing. I didn’t quite finish the book on my trip, so started listening in the car as I drove to work. I then started listening as I drove home from work. And then I started listening as I got ready in the morning, as I walked my dog, as I did laundry… I was hooked.
I started out listening to author-read celebrity memoirs/bios, and I still think these are a great jumping off point for readers who are just getting into audiobooks. Memoirs tend to be short and episodic, meaning you can listen in little chunks of time and not forget what’s going on if you want to put the book down for awhile. Additionally, listening to a narrator whose voice you’re already familiar with — such as an actor or comedian — kind of makes the experience a television/reading crossover. It’s a good start.
I listened exclusively to these types of audiobooks for a few months before venturing into my first audio novel. I was really reluctant about this since I’ve always liked reading by myself — seeing the words, going at my own pace, imagining the characters’ voices, the feel of a good book, etc. I worried that a narrator would be an uninvited guest in my reading experience who could potentially ruin the book for me.
However, I soon realized two things:
- Good narrators bring the story to life in amazing and unexpected ways (it’s nothing like the painful classroom reading out loud that we all had to endure in school).
- I was reading more books than ever before in my life. I could read during my daily life, instead of just when I had time. These two positive things outweighed my whole list of concerns.
The first novel I listened to was Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants. This is a huge novel and audiobook, and definitely not the best choice for a first-time listener. Fall of Giants is about five families in five countries during WWI, so there are a lot of characters and plots to keep track of.
Nevertheless, I loved it. The book was masterfully written and read, making it one of my favorite books of all time. John Lee, who voiced the characters and accents masterfully, is still my all-time favorite narrator. I got extremely lucky that I picked such a talented narrator for my first audio novel, and it’s partly because of his narration that I became a permanent audiobook convert.
I’ve been listening to books for almost two years now, and I can’t overstate how much I love them and how they’ve brought reading back into my life.
I currently read at least a book a week, and had to upgrade a year ago to Audible’s advanced plan :P.
If you’re interested in getting into audiobooks but aren’t sure where to start, you’re in luck. I’m compiling a list of the best audiobooks for first-time listeners, so stay tuned for more audiobook discussion.