Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Audio Books vs. Music


One of the goals I listed the other day is to perhaps try an audio book this coming year. That is, if I can overcome my hang ups with them, which I think I've mentioned once or twice, but I don't think I've ever lamented in full on a post. So hear me out and maybe someone can help me overcome or compromise or something.

First of all, I'm worried that if I listen to a book, my mind will still continue to wander on to all the other things I'm thinking about for that day. I'm afraid I won't get immersed like I do when I'm reading. I'm afraid the lack of the visual of actually looking at the words will cause me to not really retain what's being said.

Now many times when I sit down to read, I'll end up falling asleep, so this is normal.  But if I actually sit down to listen to a book, I'm quite positive I'll fall asleep, but now, the words will go on and on and on and I'll miss what's happening, where as if I'm reading and I fall asleep, the words stop!

That being said, I doubt I'd ever sit down to listen to a book, because obviously the whole point of audio books is to multi-task, right? So, I've thought of all the places/times/situations where I could see myself listening to an audio book, and all those times are when I need, really NEED, music.

-- cleaning the house/doing dishes... I seriously can't do it without blasting something.
-- in the car... love my music in the car... this is where my best stereo system is located!
-- while crafting... if I ever craft anymore, I need some sort of sound....this is when I sometimes listen to podcasts, but even then I'm missing the music.
-- folding clothes... not music here, but TV.... this is the time when I catch up on missed shows.
-- exercising... yep, music makes this bearable. However, I usually am reading at the same time. I can see this as a time when perhaps I could forgo music and just listen to a book... maybe
-- while blogging... yep, nearly always there's music going on

So why would I even want to try an audio book if I have all these problems with it? Mostly because I see that  those who do are able to fit in way more books, and sometimes it seems that you get a  lot out of them and that the experience really is quite rewarding.

So what do you experienced audio book people think? Would I have to give up music to listen to a book? Can I figure out a time to listen that I haven't thought of already? When do you find is the best time to listen, and what are you doing while listening? What about the distractions while listening, other people/kids talking to and bugging you? Is that harder with an audio book? Are you able to fit in audio books because you aren't a music person? Do you have to be one or the other or can you be both?

And if you too haven't tried audio books, why not? Do you have these same hang ups?

I'd love to know what you think!


  1. I don't listen to too many audio books a year, despite my love for them. My favorite place to listen to them is in my car! For me, it's half story/half narrator that makes a good audio book. Some of my favorites: Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz, Harry Potter (Jim Dale is AMAZING!), The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (the audio is read by several actors and is quite good!) and for Christmas time I listen to the audio version of Jean Shepard's A Christmas Story.

  2. I used to have many of the same hesitations about audio books, but I have become a convert! I'll admit that while I enjoy listening to music, it is not something I do all the time, so that was not as big of an issue for me.

    I used to avoid audio books because I felt like I could read faster, plus there would be too many interruptions from my kids and I would get distracted. When I started exercising regularly, at first I just listened to music, but then I decided to try an audio book. I loved it! I loved the life the narrator gives to the story -- and I've found that some narrators are definitely better than others. It helped get my mind off all the huffing and puffing!

    Pretty soon I was putting on the story while driving, walking the dogs, doing dishes, folding laundry, etc. I love being able to listen to a book and get other things done at the same time. If all my kids are home and a lot is going on, I usually won't listen to a book, because there can be a lot of interruptions and I don't want my kids to feel like I am totally ignoring them. But I also have some bluetooth headphones for my iPhone that make it easy to pause just with a push on the side of the headphones (much quicker than pulling my phone out of my pocket and trying to hit the pause button).

    I still love curling up with a good book, but I'm now a big fan of audio books as well. My husband likes them for long car trips. I say just give one a try!

  3. I love, love, love listening to audio books. I have an hour commute to work every day, and listening to books is what gets me through it; listening to music tends to make the drive feel every bit as tedious as it is. I also listen to audio books when I'm doing something that doesn't require much thinking (e.g., formatting a doc).

    I might like audio books so much because I don't have much time for actual reading, but it's easy to squeeze in a minute or two with an audio book. I've found that exercise-wise, if I'm on a machine of some kind, an audio book is the way to go, but I haven't had much success while running because there are so many other noises and distractions.

    I think you can be both an audio book and music lover. I love both. My mood and activity will determine which I do. If you're doing something that requires concentration or a lot of interruptions from others, music might be a better choice. If the activity is somewhat mindless and you're alone, maybe you'd choose an audio book. It all depends.

    There are so many wonderful narrators that, when they tell their story, it's hard to let your mind wander--at least if you're occupied with something else. I can't just sit still and listen; I have to be doing something.

    Anyway, that's probably waaaay too much information, haha. If you're looking for a good audio book, I'd suggest something narrated by Gerard Doyle, Alan Corduner, or Jenny Sterlin. Those are my all-time favorites, and you don't want to get turned off audio books just because of a dud narrator. Also, Rob Inglis's narration of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy is pure art; it's absolutely stunning. Jim Dale in the Harry Potter books is also phenomenal.

    Good luck!

  4. I have all the same hang ups about listening to audio books. I'm constantly flipping to past read pages and checking things, so audio books are not for me. But... if I ever did try one it would have to be a book I knew was going to be so good that listening wasn't a bother.

  5. I listened to my first audio book a couple of years ago. I had the same hangups you did. What helped me get over them was I chose stories that I already know really well. For example, I wanted to reread the Twilight Saga, The Host, and Harry Potter. Because I practically have those stories memorized and I wanted to read others books I haven't read, I decided to give them a try on audio book. I actually learned a few new things that I hadn't picked up while reading them.

    I don't think I'll listen to a book I've never read because I'm afraid I'll miss too much. But, I think it's a great way to refresh on books I love.

  6. I listen to a few audiobooks a year usually. But, I listen to very little music (especially in comparison to you). So, I don't know. You should give it a try, but if you'd rather listen to music, do it. I find it's best to listen to something you've read before so you don't miss out on pertinent details. Also, I like the full cast audios, cause it's fun with more voices. (Ok, I think I've only listened to one full cast - Princess Academy - but it was fun!)

    Good luck!

  7. While exercising is my favorite time to listen to audiobooks. I find it a much better distraction than music when I'm running.

    You should try a reread first. Then if your mind wanders, you still know what's going on. It takes a bit of training.

    I've recently decided that I don''t love fiction in audio form so I'm just focusing on nonfiction.

  8. I have to have music when I'm exercising, an audiobook while doing housework, and a movie/TV show while folding laundry. Sounds balanced, right?
    Listening to an audio book when my kids are home can be a problem. I've told them that they just need to tell me when they want to say something (with my 8-year-old this is every five minutes) and I'll pause, but they've told me I "sigh" when I have to do this. So I try my best to pause with a smile :-).

  9. I had the same issues with audio books. Now that I listen to audio books, I find radio very boring. I listen to audio books on my commute to work (an hour each way).

    I would recommend listening to short stories initially to see if you like it, instead jumping into a 10-20 hour book. I think Celia Rivenbark would be an excellent way to start listening to audio books.

    I am a music person all the way. However, audio books were a great relief from the boring ads on the radio and repetition of the songs. Good luck with whatever you decide!!!

  10. Michelle is right about rereads being a good way to get into audio.

    About your bigger question, yes, you would have to give up music. Not necessarily all the time, bit time you are listening to an audiobook is time you aren't listening to music and visa versa, like books & tv. What you have to decide is if you would want to give up some music time for audiobooks and find a balance, or if you are not willing to give up music time. Neither is more correct than the other, it is just what is best for you. Personally I don't care much about music so I always opt for audiobooks, except when writing or doing something else very word-centric, when audiobooks just confuse me.

  11. I’m a huge fan of audiobooks. I listen in the car, while cleaning house, while cooking, etc. I’m also a huge fan of music. I’ve found that there are times when I’m in the mood for one or the other.
    A few other times that I’ve found are great for listening to audiobooks… when you take a shower in the morning. I’m never in the mood for loud music then, so audiobooks are perfect. I also listen to them while doing my grocery shopping.
    Good luck and I hope you try it out.

  12. No pun intended, but I'm on the same page you are re: audiobooks - I'm afraid I'd lose focus on them, since I don't process heard information as well as written. I keep thinking I should try them for my work commute, though - at least an hour each way - but I guess I'm not motivated enough to actually do it.

  13. I say just try it. I think you will like it, especially while you are on the treadmill. Like they all said try a re-read first. You will not have to give up your music.

  14. Suey,
    I can't do fiction on audio, but non-fiction is good for me. I recently listened to Alan Alda's book What I Hear When I Talk to Myself and he's the reader.

  15. Suey,
    I can't do fiction on audio, but non-fiction is good for me. I recently listened to Alan Alda's book What I Hear When I Talk to Myself and he's the reader.

  16. Great post! I used to have the same problems too! For me, I gave it a whirl because I could download the e books from home onto for free from my library so no pain. The ones to get you hooked are the Harry Potter books. For me, the best books are the books with the simple story lines because you are correct, your mind will wander so if the plot is too intense whoops! If it is simple no biggie! The place I listen to them most is at work. It's great, I get in the work zone and people only interrupt me if something is really important. Hope this helps!

  17. Wow! Thanks for all the comments everyone! I loved hearing everyone's audio book theories... very interesting. So after considering all the advice, here's what I'm decided to do:
    1. I love the re-read idea, so I'm going to try that, listen to a book I've already read.
    2. I'm going to try it as my treadmill book
    3. I'm going to start with something short.
    4. After trying that, I may do the non-fiction thing because I liked that idea too!

    Thanks for all the input everyone! I'll let you know how it goes.

  18. I find that I have a habit to listen to audiobooks while I work and music en route to work. It may be backwards, but I find that I have an easier time focusing on my job when I can have a singular story in my headphones rather than a random selection of tunes. Luckily, I have found that some publishers package audiobooks or an accompanied soundtrack with their books. Such is the case with my daughter's newest book, Jazz Fly 2.

  19. The main reason I struggle with audiobooks is that my mind wanders - at a mile a minute. I used to listen to them once in a while before, but now I have completely stopped. I don;t seem to be getting any pleasure from listening to books. Instead, when I do chores, I listen to podcasts - that seems to work better for me. I know a lot of people though who like audiobooks, and I hope you do get to love them.

  20. I think I have expressed to you before on how I listen to audiobooks. To be sure though, when I am immersed in an audiobook my music does suffer attention. Also, I have gotten better at staying in the story, but this I think takes a bit of audiobook training...meaning...listening to many, and telling myself to stay focused...sometimes I would repeat in my head what is going on...don't need to do that much now though cause I am trained. ;) err...almost trained.
    For me, audiobooks really help me to get through mammoth books...not all, but a few select. I do, however, read many, many chapters in the actual book too...I figured out how to cue my Zune properly to get to the chapter that I left off with during the reading.

    Good luck to you if you actually do venture into audiobook land. Just don't give up to does take some time to train the mind to stay in the story.



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