How do you decide what you’ll listen to? Do you mostly listen, or split time between listening and reading? Particularly if you split time, how do you decide what you’ll consume in audio and what in print?
I love audiobooks and always have one or two in progress, in addition to whatever I'm reading in print. Choosing whether to read or listen can be tricky but, over the years, I have come up come up with a few guidelines that work for me.
Blogger Recommendation is, without a doubt, the most important factor in deciding whether to read or listen. Over the years, I have come to rely on the opinions of several bloggers, many with tastes similar to my own. These five are at the top of my list:
Narrators can make or break the audio experience, so I always listen to samples at Audible before deciding whether to listen or read. I have my favorites, of course, but am very willing to try new readers. Some books readily lend themselves to multiple narrators and these are often among my favorites.
- favorites: Cassandra Campbell, Juliet Stevenson,
- new discoveries: Wanda McCaddon, Hillary Huber, Lorna Raver
- favorites: Simon Vance, Mark Bramhall
- new discoveries: Colin Firth, Steven Crossley
Genre: I love literary fiction and classics in any format, but find that I prefer to listen to most nonfiction. Perhaps my ears stay focused better than my eyes? I'm not sure I would have made it through Michael Pollan's books in print, but really like them as audios. Mary Roach also falls into this category.
Memoirs are often more enjoyable on audio, too. Narration by the author lends an additional dimension to the experience, as in Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen, The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper, and Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
I should also mention humor. Nothing is funnier than David Sedaris reading his own work, and I loved listening to the late Nora Ephron reading I Feel Bad About My Neck.
Review Copies: Although I do not request audiobooks for review, I have been lucky to receive several surprise packages in the mail. I'm more willing to take risks with review copies, and actually discovered a couple of the past year's favorites in the review pile.
Finally, I need to talk about my latest audio habit, "total immersion". By this I mean listening to a book in the car, on my walk, etc. and then reading a print copy of the same book at home in the evening. I started doing this a couple of years ago with classics. I sometimes struggled to get into the rhythm of the story and found that it was much easier to become involved when I listened. The read/listen combo has since helped me through several classic readalongs.
My most recent twist on this practice is to pick up print copies and finish books I can't listen to fast enough, most recently And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini and The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. This is can get a little pricey for new releases, so I'm trying to limit it to classics or older books readily available from the library.
How will you choose your next audiobook?
For more discussion on audiobook selection, visit Devourer of Books.