When I was young, my parents always brought audiobooks with us on long road trips. Mainly because I and my sister had the tendency to get sick, and reading a real book would highly increase the chances of panicked stops in the emergency lane and dirty backseats. However, the era of audiobooks slowly passed when I got about 14, basically because all the audiobooks we had were really focused on middle grade. I think also because my parents were getting annoyed by listening to stories like The BFG for entire days. Our audiobooks were always either bought (which is expensive) or borrowed from the library, and since the library had a very limited collection, there was not much to listen to. Only last summer I rediscovered the magic of audiobooks, which was because I discovered they were also on youtube.
What I love about audiobooks
They have a way of engaging you in the story, that regular books don’t. You get this extra dimension, and narration can change your entire experience of the book. I’ve listened to the entire Remnant Chronicles trilogy by Mary E. Pearson and I just loved the narration. They used different voices, intonations, and accents to represent different people. It just adds so much to the experience.
You can sneak in some extra reading time when you are busy doing other things. The advantage of audiobooks is that you can bring them everywhere, whenever and you don’t need your hands to carry it around. I usually put them on my phone so I can just do whatever I want while listening.
Some of my favourite activities while listening to audiobooks include but are not limited to: basic household tasks (cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping), drawing, eating, doing puzzles (I’m a nerd, I know), knitting (and an elderly lady apparently), travelling (train, car, bus) and cycling. All the tasks that I have to do anyways like household tasks and cycling to and from university take me like an hour in total per day, which gives me an hour of extra reading without sacrificing any other tasks.
It makes reading classics much easier. Most of the audiobooks I’ve listened to were YA, but when I started reading some of Jane Austen’s novels, listening to the audiobook made is so much easier and more fun. Classics are often long, dry pieces of text with long descriptions and for someone who has always struggled with them, listening to an audiobook makes it much easier. You can also use audiobooks for listening to required reading (and honestly I wish I did that in high school, that would have made it much more fun).
What I love less about audiobooks
Sometimes the narration is just a bit annoying. I am currently listening to the audiobook of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and the narrator has quite the southern American accent. Which is quite accurate for the characters I believe (not sure), but annoying nonetheless. The narration is for me not that important, but for some people, it is very important. So it’s something you just have to try and find out for yourself.
They take longer than regular books. This might only be my issue, but I read much faster than the narrator can talk. Though, I don’t really consider it a problem since I basically listen on stolen time.
You can’t flip back and check something (and going back is such a hassle). Sometimes I miss part of a sentence or paragraph, simply because a truck decides to drive past or I forget a small aspect that seems to be quite important later. For example, I was listening to The Raven Boys and it was about Declan and I missed the part of whose brother he was and I thought he was Gansey’s brother, but it turned out he was Ronan’s. Small fact, but still important.
My phone is annoying. My phone doesn’t remember where I stopped watching so I always take screenshots and then I have to check the time at the screenshot, go back to my audiobook and scroll to the right timing. Slight annoyance.
YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO SPELL NAMES. I thought for months that Rafe’s name was spelled Wraith or something like that, it just sounded the same! (Rafe is from the Remnant Chronicles, and I though Wraith would be a cool, but obvious, name for a spy so I just went with it and found out about it a book later)
Where to get audiobooks
With a quick google search, you find an endless amount of websites where you can get subscriptions to audiobooks services. Most of these require a monthly fee of about $15. Some examples:
- Storytel.nl. This is a Dutch subscription service that has thousands of audiobooks (Dutch & English). The fee is 9,99 euro per month, which makes this one of the cheaper services. There also is a 14-day free trial. You can listen to audiobooks endlessly, there are no limits.
- Audible. If you’ve been around in the bookish community, you have probably heard of audible. This is an Amazon based company and has about 180000 audiobooks. The fee is 15$ and there is a 30-day trial. If you look around there are a lot of people with discount codes, so use that! This service works with credits, you get 1 credit per month, worth 1 audiobook.
- Audiobook.com. Another US-based service. As far as I see, this works exactly the same as audible.
There are also free ways of getting audiobooks:
- Youtube. Yes, probably not 100% legal (actually, I checked, it is legal to watch unauthorized copyrighted material, but not download OR upload it), but there is a fair amount of audiobooks on youtube and this is where I get most of mine.
- The library. This is usually only free if you already have a library card (which is not free everywhere!!), but the Dutch library system has a free app called LuisterBieb with about 800 audiobooks. You can also borrow the old-fashioned cd-audiobooks, but for me, there are only about 40 available, of which most are at least 10 years old.
- Illegal downloads. I’m assuming this is possible, but I’ve never tried it.
And lastly some other ways of buying audiobooks. You can obviously buy them online, on amazon, iTunes or whatever online store you usually use and offline buying is of course also possible.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han, narrated by Laura Knight Keating. A bit girly but really cute.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams, narrated by Stephen Fry. Just awesomely done, the voices are brilliant. I mean, I love Martin Freeman’s narration, but it can’t top Stephen Fry.
The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) – Mary E. Pearson, narrated by Emily Rankin. I love it, all the different voices and accents, wonderful!
Passenger – Alexandra Bracken, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld. I liked this a bit less, but still very pleasant to listen to.
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen, narrated by Karen Savage. Perfect narration, just amazing, I could listen to this for ages.
Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5) – Marissa Meyer, narrated by Rebecca Soler. I loved this book and the narration just made it even better! I loved it, the narrator had different voices for characters and even added a French accent for Scarlet!!