My Complicated Relationship With Audiobooks – Part 2

“In the calm before the storm – in this case, the blessed quiet before the bridal suite is overrun by the wedding party – my twin sister stares critically down at a freshly painted shell-pink fingernail and says, “I bet you’re relieved I’m not a bridezilla.””

First line in The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Last year, I wrote a post about my complicated relationship with audiobooks and questioned whether I could make it uncomplicated. This is the follow-up.

To recap, I had always felt like audiobooks weren’t for me because apparently, I have the attention span of a kid in a toy store. I could not make audiobooks work for me without feeling like I missed out on parts of the story. The change came when I found out that my attention span got better if I listened to the audiobooks while at work. That’s when I wrote my post last year and I have since then been trying to work out what works for me in terms of which books to go the audiobook route with. Let’s go through some of the things I’ve tested!

YA Fantasy and Contemporary

Examples of books I’ve listened to:
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Loveless by Alice Oseman
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

I made it through a lot of YA when I started this experiment. I figured those would be the easiest to listen to because they normally don’t require much of the reader. I mean, I was still listening to them at work so I didn’t have to brain capacity to catch tiny hints in complicated plots or keep track of a huge cast of characters. I needed simple. And that created an entirely different problem: Me realizing I don’t enjoy books that are simple and don’t let you think.
There were a couple of these books I liked such as The Hate U Give and The Scorpio Races, but they were vastly outnumbered by 3 and 2-star reads.

It did not make sense for me to continue with YA because, at that point, I was just reading for the sake of reading and not wasting precious reading time.


Examples of books I’ve listened to:
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
A Restless Truth by Freya Marske

I would not call myself a romance reader but I have enjoyed some in the past and wanted to run them through the audiobook test. It was adult romance but it still gave me that simplicity in a familiar contemporary setting. I could still get some complexity in the relationships between the characters, and it worked really well for me. I’d say the biggest problem here is finding those romance books with complicated relationships because, in my experience, they’re not the norm. Like, I don’t mind fluffy but I think I’d get sick of that pretty quickly, so if you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments.
Okay, I have one other problem here which is that listening to certain scenes from romance books in public can be… interesting. But it’s okay!

Historical Fiction

Examples of books I’ve listened to:
Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Historical fiction is one of those genres I often say I like but the reality is that I don’t read a whole lot of historical fiction. But maybe audiobooks are here to change that? While I had wildly different reactions to the two books I tried, my comprehension of the two wasn’t challenged as I listened. Both are set in 20th-century Europe, so it was not like it was difficult for me to imagine the settings and I would of course have to figure out whether it’s just as easy for me to listen to books with completely different settings. I don’t think it will be a problem though.


Examples of books I’ve listened to:
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Going the audiobook route with rereads was advice I got in the comments of my original post and that has been pretty successful so far. I got through The Raven Cycle so fast, and I was still reading a new book physically so I didn’t get that feeling of “putting my reading on hold” to do rereads. I would also never have reread Sorcery of Thorns if I had to do it physically but now, listening to the audiobook made sense before reading the new sequel novella Mysteries of Thorn Manor. Normally, I would have jumped straight into that and hoped the author would recap the important stuff.
The only problem here is that I usually want to make a post about the books I reread and in some cases that involves marking quotes or writing stuff down while I read. That gets a little difficult when I’m listening to an audiobook while working.


There has been a lot of trial and error for me in this process, not only in terms of what books I’m listening to. In the beginning, it made me kind of stressed because I suddenly had all this extra time to read and I felt I had to utilize all of it. I couldn’t waste reading time, right?
But it doesn’t make sense for me to think of it that way. Listening to an audiobook for about 5 hours straight every day is just not possible for me (or anyone?) because it does still require some focus. I needed days where I could just listen to music or not listen to anything at all. And I’m okay with that now. I’ve found that listening to an audiobook for 1 or 2 hours per day is my sweet spot. Some days I don’t listen to one at all because I also have a couple of podcasts I like to listen to. And that’s fine! I don’t have a very long cue of audiobooks anyway so it really makes no sense for me to rush through them. I only feel the pressure at the end of each month when I feel like I must finish my current audiobook in order to get it in my monthly wrap-up. But that’s also a problem with physical books so that’s a thing for a different post.

In my original post, I also talked about not wanting to go the audiobook route with books I’m really excited about. And honestly, that’s still where I’m at. I haven’t even wanted to test it because reading physically still provides the best reading experiences for me. I like to take a pause to just think about what I just read or maybe reread the last couple of sentences when I really liked something. That gets complicated with audiobooks. Not to mention that I hate not knowing how things are spelled. It’s inconvenient when you have a blog!

Another category of books I’ve (mostly) avoided is the adult high fantasy one. My exception here is The Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb and they are a very special case. I’m no longer a fan of Hobb but dedicating so much time to The Realm of the Elderlings means I want to get to the end, even if I hate every minute of the way there (do I make a lot of stupid decisions? Yes). Still, listening to them told me I didn’t have a hard time understanding them and I think that’s because I’m so familiar with the world after having read nine physical books about it. So starting an adult high fantasy series as an audiobook is probably not the best choice for me, but maybe I can switch as the series goes along? It of course means I’ll have to stop DNF’ing such series after one or two books but maybe this will be relevant someday.

Overall, I feel like I’ve gotten more comfortable with audiobooks and I’m no longer completely opposed to the idea of listening to a book instead of physically reading it. As you might have gathered, it has also given me new possibilities in terms of reading genres I don’t normally reach for, which I’m very grateful for. Prepare for more romance and historical fiction on this blog. I also see a lot of value in the reread option and I think that’s going to be a big benefit in the long run. I’ve accepted that my memory is terrible so I do need to brush up on my favorite stories from time to time.

Tell me what you think of audiobooks! Have you put as much thought into them as I have? (Probably not). What makes you choose to listen to a book instead of reading it? Do you recognize some of my observations?

5 thoughts on “My Complicated Relationship With Audiobooks – Part 2

  1. I have similar problems with attention span when it comes to audiobooks. The Raven Cycle is the only series I’ve listened to all the way through in this form and though I did enjoy it I also felt I probably wasn’t as focused/engaged as I might have been reading it in physical form. I lost a lot of the detail.

    For Persuasion by Jane Austen I listened to the free audiobook on Spotify while reading my physical copy and that was very helpful for focus! But couldn’t read every book that way lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That experience with The Raven Cycle sounds very familiar. Like, yes, even if I enjoy a book by listening to it, I’ll often feel like I could have gotten more out of it by reading it physically.

      I’ve never tried listening and reading physically at the same time because my logic tells me I could just read it physically then πŸ˜… But maybe the audiobook is good for providing the proper atmosphere? But you’re right, it’s not something you can do for every book.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve actually been looking forward to this update a lot because, judging from how much your audiobook consumption has gone up this past year, I figured the experiment probably wasn’t going too badly 😁 However, after reading this, I guess we’re still in agreement that audiobooks are complicated?

    I actually don’t have the attention span problem as much – but maybe that’s just because I usually never have more than an hour a piece of audiobook time anyway and almost exclusively listen to them while cooking now, which isn’t really exciting enough to distract me πŸ˜‚ However, I still seem to prefer the types of books that don’t expect me to think as much in audiobool form – because they tend to be shorter! The thought of having to listen to a book for over two months until I know the ending just doesn’t sit well with my impatience, so if I see that an audiobook is over 25 hours long, I’m already inclined to avoid it πŸ™ƒ Even if listened to that every single time I cooked – which I don’t because, like you, I’ve discovered that a healthy balance with music and not listening to anything is better – it’d take me forever to finish! And I’m also avoiding anything that is available in a different format. Due to their slowness and the fact that they don’t allow me to imagine characters’ voices the way I want to, I’m just never going to see audiobooks as superior. Even if some instances that led to me reading an anticipated, long book as an audiobook – like To Paradise – were very enjoyable. I still think I probably would’ve liked reading a physical copy more!

    But anyway – I think it’s really interesting that audiobooks have changed the makeup of the genres you gravitate towards. I had never really thought of that, but I don’t think I’ve listened to many non-reread fantasy books, either. Not unless they fell into the cozy fantasy genre, which I suppose fall into the unexhausting, shorter category πŸ€” So maybe I have more of an attention span problem than I thought… And of course, that means I’d love to hear your thoughts on trying anticipated releases in audiobook form first! Because I’m too much of a skeptic to try it myself 😁

    Also: The not knowing how to spell things horror is real! I actually often end up googling the character names before I’ve finished an audiobook because, once I “see” them wrong in my mind, changing them is a nightmare 😬 My brain cannot handle that at all, so I relate!

    Finally: Should I read Mysteries of Thorn Manor? πŸ‘€ It’s a novella, so I’m apprehensive. But if it gives me good Silas content… πŸ€”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Audiobooks are definitely still complicated πŸ˜…

      I completely recognize preferring shorter books! If I find an audiobook that is only 6 or 7 hours long, I almost don’t care what it’s about because short is great πŸ˜† But I’ve also become aware of that impatience you talk about and try to tell myself it doesn’t matter if it takes me three weeks to get through a book. Like, pushing myself to listen to it faster isn’t going to make the experience any better. So far I haven’t attempted anything of 25 hours though, but I’m assuming the last Hobb books will be around that? (I’m afraid to check πŸ™ˆ)
      And the thing with the voices has almost ruined Sorcery of Thorns for me now because I really didn’t like the narrator’s voices for Nathaniel and Silas 😬 Which is also why I might not be the best person to tell you about Mysteries of Thorn Manor. I gave it 3 stars and thought it was okay. If you want more Silas content, sure, it’s in there and I could see you liking some of it. It’s a very silly and over-the-top story though which is fun but maybe also TOO silly for my taste. Especially when it’s that long. It’s almost 200 pages and it felt like too much for a story like that.

      I’ll also say, me starting to read different genres also wasn’t a development I had in any way expected from this πŸ˜… But I would have thought you listened to more fantasy since you don’t have my I-can’t-possibly-imagine-a-secondary-world-in-my-head-when-I-also-have-to-listen problem. Like, even Sorcery of Thorns was difficult in that department despite having read it before.

      Knowing how to spell things actually also helps me a lot in understanding the story for some reason, especially with character names. Like, I can’t picture what they look like so it’s usually the name that pops up in my head instead of the image. Not knowing the spelling means nothing pops up and I’m just confused πŸ™ˆ So reading through your commentary on the Rain Wild was actually really helpful in that regard πŸ˜„

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm, what you’re saying about Mysteries of Thorn Manor sounds like a huge reminder of why I’m such a big novella skeptic – I think I’ll focus my priorities elsewhere for now 😁

        But I’m glad you found some usefulness in my Rain Wild commentary other than me complaining about Robin Hobb’s aplomb-usage! I always see the spelling in my head, too – although it’s on a separate layer from the story imagery – so it drives me nuts when I realize what I pictured doesn’t fit with the “official” version. You can’t expect me to change the spelling once I’ve already spent a whole book with these characters!!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.