Weekend Reads #83: I try audiobooks for the first time…sort of

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend.

This week’s topic:


Much has changed since the last time I reviewed audiobooks on here. For example, I’ve listened to more audiobooks since then and now realize that whether or not I enjoy an audiobook depends on who narrates it.

Such was the case in my last audiobook review, where I discussed listening to the audio version of Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief, a YA novel by Rick Riordan, and You, a thriller novel by Caroline Kepnes. I had vastly different experiences with both audiobooks because I hated the former but loved the later.

My experience with the audiobooks I’ll mention in this post is similar — I love one but hate the other, — but there is a difference. Up until this post, I’ve only used audiobooks to reread books. I did so because I feared that my mind would wander as I listen and I would miss important parts of the story. Also, since I’m a visual learner, I thought that I would miss certain details that I love to pay attention to when I read the physical/e- book, such as the author’s writing. I thought that listening to an audio version of a new-to-me book would lessen my reading experience of it. And after listening to The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, narr. by Finty Williams, and The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, narr. by a cast of actors, it seems I was right.

…sort of.

Though I enjoyed listening to The Girl with All the Gifts and parts of The Two Towers, I missed parts of both stories because my mind wandered as I listened. I can’t help it. I daydream all the time, especially when reading (or in this case listening) to a story. With a physical/e- book, I can easily locate the point where my mind began to wander and pick up with the story. But the audiobook keeps going and it becomes tricky to rewind until I find the point where I tuned out the story and started to daydream my own version of it.

This made me wonder if listening to an audiobook should be considered reading for me because it feels like a totally different experience. Sure, I remember some parts of the stories I listened to, but this reading experience wasn’t as engaging as it usually is when I read the physical/e- book. I completed the audiobooks not really gleaning much about the author’s writing style, which is a huge disappointment for me because that’s one of my favorite things about reading — admiring how the author writes. However, I could sense that if I’d read the physical/e- book, I would have loved how M.R. Carey writes.

I also couldn’t identify any quotes or passages to highlight, which is something I often do when hooked on a book. Words fly through one ear and out the other when I listen to audiobooks because when I listen to something — music, discussions, conversations, audiobooks — it’s not the words that I pay attention to but the images they evoke. It’s a weird thing about me, I guess, but sometimes I translate words spoken to me into images in my head to understand what is being said. It’s different when engaged in a visual activity, such as reading a book. I pay attention to every word, though I still sometimes create images in my mind to help me along.

I’m not sure if listening to new-to-me books is something I will do again. I had to force myself to stay present and listen and still I missed some things. I think I’ll continue to simply reread stories using audiobooks so if I miss something, it’s not a big deal because I’m already familiar with the story.

I’ve completed both audiobooks and will post reviews of them next week, but all you need to know, really, is that The Girl with All the Gifts is great and you should totally read it!

What I’m currently reading:
The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb

Yep, I’m still on this one and am still enjoying it.

The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer

I began this recently and am curious about it and like the writing so far. I believe it is YA fantasy and it has a fairy tale quality to it.

1001 Islands by K.T. Munson

I wax and wane with this. Sometimes I’m really into it and other times it feels as if it drags. I think that’s because of the short chapters and multiple switches in perspective coupled with the slow-ish pace. The short chapters give the impression that the plot should develop quickly, but the many and often switches in perspective staggers the progress.

Anyway, I hope y’all doing summin fun.
Let me know what you’re reading.

35 thoughts on “Weekend Reads #83: I try audiobooks for the first time…sort of

  1. I definitely prefer reading physical copies to audiobooks, but I tend to use audiobooks to squeeze in reading when I couldn’t otherwise – basically in the car, at work, and when my son won’t let me read on my phone while I’m putting him down for bed (he’s 15 months and has started getting very curious about my phone).


  2. That’s interesting that you don’t find the experience of listening to books as engaging/complete as reading them. I definitely understand it though, esp. if you like to focus on the writing and take notes, and if you feel like you are missing too much.

    For me I think I have the opposite feeling – i.e. it’s more engaging if I listen to a book rather than read it. I feel like I can actually focus on the writing more (whereas in a book I sometimes just skim over things) and I get more drawn in. Also when reading I feel I’m counting the pages till I’m finished and there’s this pressure to speed through it, which I don’t get with an audiobook, so it’s a more relaxing experience. Admittedly I do miss things too, but unless it’s a particularly complex book where it gets confusing (I did encounter a few like that and I had to rewind a lot or stop altogether!), I guess I’m willing to not get every detail. As for visualising the story – I feel like I do that equally for both but I’ve actually never really paid attention to it… I guess I will now 🙂

    Anyway, it’s really interesting to hear your thoughts on this. I often wonder why some people prefer audiobooks and others don’t, and you’ve listed some reasons I never thought about before!


  3. Such an interesting post, and I absolutely agree! Reading an audiobook gives a certain different feeling that doesn’t entirely feel like you read the book. I feel like maybe also that some people are just visual people (including myself!) so your point about words and the images forming in your head when you listen to a book, and of course the structure of the book itself feels more abstract when you cannot physically see it. I still have to find the right balance on listening to audiobooks, I’ve only read 3 so far! 🙂


  4. The Oddling Prince looks good Zezee! Is that an ARC?!

    I know what you mean when it comes to listening vs. reading! Since we listen to TV it is very natural to draw up a picture to go along with the sound even if one isn’t provided thru a screen… whereas with a book it’s all about the words and so your mind doesn’t expect to do that… such a fascinating aspect you drew out of this Zezee! ♥️


    1. Yep, it’s an ARC. I think the book will be out in May. The writing is good and I like the fairytale-retelling quality of it, but it’s fast paced and, oddly, I kinda want it to slow down to flesh out the characters more. It is a decent read so far tho.

      Ah! I didn’t even think of it being similar to watching TV. I’m so surprised and you’re so right.


  5. Great post! I’m yet to enjoy Audio, although I’ve really only began listening to a couple books… not enough to judge anything off of. But, there is always something or another about the voices that bother me and I can’t get into them. I’m too distracted!


    1. That’s my problem too with some of them. But once you find one where the narrator suits you, you might get hooked.
      I actually like audio books because they make me realize that I don’t mind being read to, but I think using them for rereads is better for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Narration for is everything when it comes to audiobooks, I find that a really talented reader can even make a mediocre story great, because they just have me hanging on their every word. Likewise, even a really interesting book can be spoiled if the narrator is bad. Also, being able to adjust playback speed may help. Some narrators read too slow, and that actually makes me drift off. I prefer to set speed to at least 2x so it sounds more like regular talking speed, and that usually keeps my attention.


    1. Exactly! The narrator makes a huge difference.
      So far I haven’t had to speed up the ones I listen to, but I was tempted to do so when listening to some of the Wheel of Time audio books.


  7. I find the hardest thing for me, when it comes to audiobooks, is when I want to go back and check something. Like, suddenly I realize that there was a hint or foreshadowing in an earlier chapter. That’s a bit of a problem.

    That said, I do love a well-read audiobook. I prefer the ones with one person doing all the voices (as opposed to a full cast recording). But only if this is done well, and I’m surprised at how one voice actor is able to sound like so many people!


    1. Totally agree with you there. On the first point, that annoys me sometimes, like when I was listening to the Game of Thrones books on audio (although I’d already read them before). I couldn’t quickly flip back to verify some tidbit of the story.

      And for the second point, I actually don’t mind 2 different narrators, one for males and another for females, which was done for the Wheel of Time audiobooks. And for me a full cast isn’t bad as long as it’s not overdone, which I think is what happened on the Lord of the Rings audio I listened to. There were too many voices and sometimes background noises. Just too much. However, I am listening to the Bible on audio every now and then and it’s a full cast but not overdone. I don’t mind it much but some parts of the Bible are so damn boring (even on audio) that I fall asleep. Lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oddly enough, the audiobooks that got me hooked are a set of “full cast” recordings of the Narnia books! I actually own these audiobooks and love them to pieces. Full cast and all!

        So, it is a little odd that I tend to avoid other full cast recordings. And yes, I have liked the male/female split narrators when the book calls for it. Although I do have a wonderful horror story about a Sense and Sensibility audiobook that did this. The woman was wonderful. The man (who came in just to read for the male characters) was one of the WORST voice actors I’ve ever heard! It was almost funny!


  8. Thanks for sharing your audio book experiences. I, too, find audio books ARE different than print books. I will not listen to one with poor narration, or one with too much sound reverberation.

    I began listening to audio books before going to sleep. Closed eyes, dark room, use the timer and no need to stir to turn off the light. I am hooked. Yes, I miss some parts, but backup next time I listen to a scene I remember. No more insomnia.

    For me, audio books exercise a kind of focus that is alert yet relaxed AND afford the opportunity to not be a perfectionist. The last makes me feel like a freer person.


    1. 😊 well when you put it like that (your last paragraph), you make listening audiobooks seem like a worthwhile experience. And a calming one too. It will take some time for me to get used to listening to an audiobook that I’ve never read before. I’m considering listening to thrillers since it’s less likely that my attention will waver with those.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. An interesting post, thanks! There’s nothing weird about your mind wandering, or the way you construct images as you listen. Apparently we can process information four times as fast as we can speak. So when someone is talking, three quarters of your brain is itching to find other things to think about. Friends tell me that they favour audio thrillers for car trips…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m also considering just listening to new-to-me thriller audio books too. Unless it’s somehow boring, it’s hard not to pay attention to the story if it’s a thriller.

      Liked by 1 person

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