As a writer, I spend a lot of time staring at a screen. This is on top of my day job which also involves working at a computer 8 hours per day. So no matter how much I love reading, sometimes my eyes have had enough. That’s when I turn to my trusty audiobook collection.
As an adult I’ve become prone to motion sickness as a passenger in cars, buses, trains and definitely on boats. A green-grey complexion is not a good look on me. I need to distract myself but reading is definitely not an option. Music helps at times but music can’t carry my mind away the way a story can.
I discovered audiobooks in an unusual way. In 2013 I suffered a minor neck injury and experienced motion sickness symptoms. For the first few weeks, unless I laid flat on my back staring at the ceiling, my stomach revolted as though sitting in a row-boat being tossed around by a stormy ocean. I was in pain, nauseated and so damn bored!
Here we introduce the periscope horizontal reading glasses (thanks eBay).
Not the most attractive eyewear, but they made it possible to watch TV while staring at the ceiling. This kept me entertained some of the time, but my inner bookworm desperately missed reading. Holding a book out in front of me while staring in a different direction proved too much for my uncoordinated body. Plus my arms hurt from all that book-holding (my upper body strength is severely lacking!).
That’s when a friend suggested audiobooks. I signed up to Amazon’s Audible service and received a free book through a trial membership (the free trial is ongoing if you want to give it a try - http://www.audible.com.au/mt/free_trial_special_offer_at). It was as simple as downloading the app to my phone, choosing a book and pressing ‘play’. What a revelation—discovering the best friend I never knew I needed!
And I’ve never looked back. I still love reading, but the best benefit of listening to, rather than reading, a story is being able to escape into your book while driving, doing housework, exercising or on public transport—without the urge to hurl.
There are several ways to get your hands on an audiobook. You can still buy them in CD format, but they’re expensive, and having to switch CDs over every few chapters is too much for an impatient gal like me. I prefer to purchase digital files because you can listen from start to finish without any hassle. And they can be downloaded immediately—instant gratification.
Consider yourself thrifty? Check with your local library service. My library has a catalogue of audiobooks available to borrow for up to three weeks. Just download the appropriate app to your phone, log in with your library membership details and voilà—free audiobook.
Tips for finding the right book for you:
- Start with an author you love—less chance of disappointment.
- Listen to a sample – I’m not sure about all audiobook retailers, but Audible provides a 4 – 5 minute sample of their books. Take the time to listen. The narrator of the story is just as important as the author. Books I listen to range from 8 hours to 15 hours in length. Imagine spending 15 hours listening to someone whose voice grated your every nerve—a unique form of torture. I’d rather toothpicks under my fingernails, thanks.
- Approximately 80% of my audiobook collection is romance, and most of these books are in the point of view of both the hero and the heroine. Some audiobooks are recorded by two voice artists—male and female. But usually, one voice artist records both voices. Female artists try for a deeper masculine tone for the hero, and male artists go higher for the heroine. It can take a little getting used to at first, but I barely notice anymore.
As readers we tend to skim lines, flying past long paragraphs or repetitive words etc. You don’t have that luxury when listening to an audiobook. I actually took a particular author off my ‘potential must-read’ list after listening to one of her books. Her use of ‘she said’ and ‘he thought’ etc tacked onto the end of every other sentence drove me crazy. I’d skipped over it in her eBooks, but there’s nowhere to hide in an audiobook.
To sum up the benefits of audiobooks in a much more succinct and entertaining way, I’ve added these clips. Enjoy!
Audible Australia – Listen To Your Book. My favourite ad of the year for—I dare you not to laugh!
Are you already a fan of audiobooks? If so, what are your genre, author or narrator preferences? I’m always looking for recommendations.
Lauren James is a country girl at heart. Raised on a small property surrounded by animals, it's no surprise she writes small town romance with lots of love for creatures great and small.
Having failed fabulously at painting, sewing and playing guitar, she finally found her creative outlet in writing strong, quirky heroines, and tough, handsome heroes with gooey animal-loving centers.
Lauren lives on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, with her beloved rescue greyhound, Daisy.