I’ve never been a huge fan of audiobooks, always preferring the act of reading to that of listening. In fact, up until the last couple of years, audiobooks were relegated to long road trips and flights. However, more recently I have found that while I may not always have as much time as I would like to sit down and read a book, it is still possible to get my fill of books by opting for the hands-free audio version and multi-tasking while walking the dog, cleaning the house, or sitting on the couch trying to crochet a cactus (a pandemic project).
To me, there are three factors to consider when choosing an audiobook. First off, we obviously need a good story. However, not all books that make for good reading make for equally good listening. Non-fiction audiobooks can sometimes be a challenge for me, as I find myself getting burned out on the subject matter halfway through. That said, a good memoir seems to be a safe bet. Similarly, the length of an audiobook is important. In general, I feel that many books could benefit from a solid edit, and this is something that often becomes even more noticeable when a book is read aloud (exhibit A, the 48-hour audio version of the Ulysses S. Grant biography, ‘Grant’). Given my shortened attention span, I prefer books that are in the 15 hours or less range to prevent myself from overcommitting. Lastly, and most importantly, is the narrator. Nothing ruins an audiobook like a narrator who reads too slowly or worse, tries to distinguish characters with terrible and often offensive accents. However, find yourself a book with an engaging narrator, and it’s hard to take the headphones off.