HOOKED ON AUDIOBOOKS: Why I love to listen
August 28th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer


My friend Heidi from YA Bibliophile got me hooked on audiobooks when she raved about THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater, one of my all-time 10626594favorite novels. Even though I had already read it, she convinced me that I absolutely had to listen to it. I don’t remember her exact words, but I can definitely remember her face lighting up and the enthusiasm in her voice. That enthusiasm was contagious. I checked out the audiobook from our library and fell in love with the novel all over again.  and  gave fantastic performances and I appreciating the instrumental music that Maggie had created herself! My heart ached when the end came. I wanted to listen over and over and over again. I couldn’t get enough. I needed more.

It’s not like I hadn’t listened to an audiobook before, it’s just that they were reserved for long family road trips. We listened to several Harry Potter novels driving to Memphis, TN and back home to Milwaukee, a slew of Battle of the Books novels on a trip to Door County, WI, and the exceptional historical novel THE COFFEE TRADER by David Liss during our road trip to look at colleges with Justin. These books helped pass the time and kept us all engaged and interested in more than just the scenery.

But THE SCORPIO RACES changed everything for me. Now, I listen to audiobooks almost every day. I’m often juggling three different novels at once: an audiobook, ebook on my iPad, and a good ol’ traditional paper novel. Sometimes, while I’m on the elliptical, I choose to listen to the audiobook instead of reading one from the iPad. I get completely engrossed in the story and my thirty plus minutes pass quickly. I’ll put the audiobook on for short trips to the grocery store and – CONFESSION – sometimes get so engrossed that I sit in the car and listen to the end of a chapter. When I’m cooking or folding laundry I’ll put on the audiobook instead of music. The key is being able to stay focused on both tasks.


101941571. When you listen to an audiobook, you hear the author’s words differently. The characters come alive based on the interpretation of the performer. If he or she is outstanding, you’ll totally find yourself immersed in the story. Sometimes it’s easier to NOT read the novel first. I did that with DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by , performed by . I absolutely loved the performance and wouldn’t want to experience that series any other way. The same is true with SHADOW AND BONE and SIEGE AND STORM by , performed by .

2. Listening to an audiobook adds dimension to the story that you won’t necessarily get just from reading it. For example: 9464733BEAUTY QUEENS by . The book won quite a few awards, including Audie Award for Narration by the Author or Authors; Audie Award Nominee for Teens (2012)Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Young Adult Literature (2011)Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of the Year (2011). Libba Bray did ALL the voices and to “experience” her novel through her ear – how she heard the characters in her head – was absolutely amazing. I am certain I wouldn’t have loved the novel nearly as much if I hadn’t heard her interpretation. There was music, bells, commercial breaks, footnotes that came to life because of the audio production. I have no doubt I would have “read” it differently.

3. I love books. I love to read. And there is never enough time in the day for it. Audiobooks expands my “reading” time.

4. Sharpens my listening skills. I know this is obvious, but the mind can definitely wander. Audiobooks keep me mentally engaged and rarely do I have to go back because I wasn’t paying attention.

5. Get audiobooks from your local library. I live in Milwaukee County, so our library system is huge. If my library doesn’t have a book I want, I most likely can reserve it from a different one. Most audiobooks are on CD. They’re great for the car, but not as convenient for in-home listening.  The best part, borrowing them is FREE! But there’s one more reason why I love going to the library to look at audiobooks: I’m exposed to novels I 49491never would have picked up. That’s what happened with THE COFFEE TRADER. It was something I saw while browsing the audiobook section and it intrigued me. Six years later, I still remember the novel vividly.

6. I recently started a monthly subscription to Audible.com – another suggestion from Heidi. I’m in the early stages, but it seems like an economical way to get access to a lot of audiobooks, especially my favorites. They have a free month trial offer and various programs that make it worthwhile to check out, including “Daily Deals.” Before subscribing, however, I used the library audiobooks A LOT. I wanted to be certain that downloading audiobooks and listening to them outside of drive-time was what I wanted. When I started dragging the old CD boom box out of the garage and lugging it around the house, I decided to take the leap to Audible. I love the convenience of having the audiobook on my iPhone and I never have to worry about where I left off. There are many great features, including bookmarking favorite sections and auto-rewind, which you can set at various increments. I use the standard 30 seconds.

A note to teachers: Audiobooks are a fantastic way to fuel a love for reading. I truly believe that if students don’t read it’s because they hate it. I hear it all the time, “I hate to read.” Usually they say it’s because they’re “forced” to read things that they have no interest in. We could discuss the fine points of why a particular novel is a good read, how it will expand their higher level thinking skills, expose them to a classic, engage them if they give it a chance. FORGET IT. These kids really aren’t interested. And it breaks my heart since I LOVE TO READ! Obviously, reading certain books is critical to English curriculum, but shouldn’t there be some flexibility when a student is floundering? How many adults do you know that don’t read? Or only read a few books a year? I think audiobooks can change that, and if we give students access to audiobooks in middle school and high school, it may chance their perceptions and may even help them expand their attention span. Think about it: we read to children in pre-school and even into the early elementary years. I taught those grades, and more often than not, most, if not all, the kids sat and listened. Why? Because they were intrigued, even hooked, especially when I used different voices and brought the book to life. That’s what an audiobook does. They engage people differently. Not everyone is a visual learner or a strong reader. Audiobooks could change the experience of reading and perhaps change a YA’s attitude toward it. Hopefully, that’s reason enough to encourage it in the classroom.


One Response  
Michelle writes:
August 28th, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Completely agree! I also do the 3 books on the go thing, but each in a different format (I get easily confused). I am even starting to develop my favorite ‘readers’.

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