The Wonder of Audiobooks

I have been a fan of audiobooks for a long time. I even have audiobook stories. One time, about twenty years ago, my husband and I went off on a road trip. We had a destination and a planned pit stop—a favorite restaurant several hours away. We turned on our audiobook and drove off. Well, we never made it to the restaurant. We became so absorbed in the story that we passed it right by and only realized our mistake hundreds of miles later. On our return trip home, we resolved that we would not miss stopping at that restaurant, and we didn’t, athough we did listen to an audiobook on our drive there. After a delicious meal, we clambered back to the car and drove away, our audiobook blaring, forgetting the one thing we had told ourselves that we had to do before returning to our route: stop at the nearby gas station. That was the time we almost ran out of gas as the result of a story.

So far this sounds like a cautionary tale against audiobooks. I would say those are stories of first love. We still listen to audiobooks in the car all the time, but we seem to remember to do things and avoid mishaps. And we don’t go on road trips that often anymore. We have three cats at home, and I miss them even when I’m at the local grocery store.

Lately I’ve increased my audiobook listening. Part of it came out of sleep problems. Often it seems that anxiety and sleeplessness hang out together. I’ve found that if I put on my headphones and listen to an audiobook, I can fall asleep without worry. Yes, I do lose my place in books. I’ve started to use the timer on my audiobook application to turn off the book after half an hour so I don’t wander off too far. The following day, I usually have to go back in the text. But who cares? I’ve had a good night’s sleep.

It’s also an incentive for me to exercise. I love to walk. Walking and listening to a story? A hot fudge sundae experience. And I have discovered that I am a more adventurous reader with audiobooks. I will listen to genres—the classics, suspense thrillers, biographies, that I would never pick up and read. Of course, there is a caveat, and that is the narrator. The narrator can make or break a book. If I don’t like the narrator’s voice, I will not listen to the book.

My dream is to have all my books in audiobook form, and I have one done, The Loudest Meow: A Talking Cat Fantasy. It is my favorite version of that book. You can listen to a sample here. I feel so lucky to work with Kae Denino, the narrator, who had to come up with a bunch of different cat voices and tell a story that can be operatic in tone.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Do you have favorites? I’ll throw some of mine out here: I’ve been impressed with all the Sophie Kinsella books I’ve heard, with Wedding Night my favorite so far. We are currently listening to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, where the narrator, Rob Inglis, occasionally breaks into song. Yes! We listened to all twenty-one books of the Travis McGee series narrated by Robert Petfkoff, and we wished there had been more. We really enjoyed Tracy Sallows’s work on Lisa Brackmann’s series set in China. I recently listened to The Girl Before, and although it wasn’t necessarily my type of book, I loved the multiple narrators and the structure of the story. If you’re an audiobook listener, let me know what you have liked in the comments below.