Living Life Bookishly

The Beginner’s Guide to Choosing a Great Audiobook

By on November 24, 2017

I do most of my reading these days via audiobooks. I’ve been listening to audiobooks for a few years now, and have definitely chosen some real winners and some clear losers.

Below are my insights into choosing a killer audiobook. This guide contains everything new audiobook listeners need to get started, as well as information on choosing a great listen.

How to Get an Audiobook

When if comes to listening to audiobooks, you have several source options.

In my opinion, the best two are your local library and a website called Audible. Choose what works best with your lifestyle and budget, especially since libraries are awesome and free.

For me, the convenience of Audible (and living abroad) made it the option for me.

Audible also has a great selection of books and a few features I really like, including a return option if you don’t like your book. You also get to keep all the books you buy in your library, which shows up on the site and your phone. You can re-listen to them anytime you choose.

What’s more, the book you’re currently reading gets downloaded to your phone. This ensures that whenever you want to read you’re in the right spot, and, most importantly, you can access the book without using data. This is great when driving in the car or flying, since you don’t need wifi or data to listen.

Bonus feature: For those of you with low storage space on your phone (aka ME always), you can download half or a third of longer books at a time to help with the download.

Choosing a Great Audiobook

When choosing your first book (especially if using Audible), here’s what I recommend:

  • Preview the narration: On Audible, you can listen to a snippet of the book before you buy it. Listen to the narrator, making sure you like their voice and like how they read.
  • Keep it short: For your first book, choose something short. The 5–10 hour mark is good. Books seem to average around 10–12 hours, but don’t pick anything too daunting your first time around.
  • Search by author: It can also be a good idea to choose a book by an author you know and like. This helps make sure you don’t pick a dud your first time that can turn you off to audiobooks.
  • Read some reviews: Check out the reviews under the book’s description. Make sure there isn’t some irredeemable quality that multiple people comment on. Of course, there will inevitably be mixed opinions, but look for reoccurring themes and make sure the overall ratings are high.
  • Be patient: If you don’t like the first audiobook you listen to, try again. Try a different genre or author, for example. Give audiobooks a serious try by listening to a few different styles and stories.

Bonus tip: Try a repeat! Find a book you’ve read and loved in the past, but want to experience again in a new way. For example, I’ve always loved Cutting for Stone, and decided to try the Audible version a while back. The audiobook brought the story to life for me in a fresh way — plus, I learned how the names of beloved characters and places were supposed to be pronounced.

Go Forth and Read

Time to choose an audiobook and get listening! With the holidays approaching and family road trips looming, there’s never been a better time to get into audiobooks.

Not convinced? Check out this post to read all about how I became a permanent audiobook convert.

And for specific book recommendations, stay tuned for my upcoming post about the best audiobooks for first-time listeners.

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Warby Parker
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