discussion

Why I’m Taking a Break From Audiobooks

Hi everyone!

I’ve been a strong advocate for audiobooks for some time, ever since I discovered audiobooks two years ago. There’s been phases when I’ve recommended audiobooks left and right. There was a point in time when I was reading two or more audiobooks a month. But… let’s just say that my feelings for audiobooks have changed, at least for the present moment.

Since the New Year, I’ve been reflecting on my reading from 2019, and… well, there’s been ups and downs. I’ve had times when I really loved what I was reading and just wanted to binge-read a book or a series day in and day out. There were also times when I found myself in a reading slump. I thought a bit about what caused my reading slumps and, well, one of these things is audiobooks.

Yeah. I said it. I think audiobooks have caused some of my reading slumps.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are lots of great audiobooks out there, and there are some aspects that I love about audiobooks, which include…

  • You can listen to audiobooks while doing a bunch of other stuff, like driving, and walking, and chores.
  • If you want to give your eyes a break while still enjoying a good book, audiobooks can be a great option.
  • They are portable. You can carry many audiobooks all in one place (your phone!!)
  • They can be more cost-effective than print books, especially if you borrow from your library, or subscribe to an audiobook service (e.g. Audible.)
  • Audiobooks might be a great way to introduce books to your friends/family who typically don’t like reading. (I was able to get my husband and my friend into books by convincing them to give audiobooks a try!)

But… I think I’m ready to take a break from audiobooks, at least for the time being. And here is why:

#1. I find myself zoning out. A lot.

This happens particularly when I have something exciting (or dreadful) on my mind, for example, if I am really looking forward to an upcoming get-together with friends, or if I am stressed out about a particular project at work. If I happen to be listening to an audiobook, I probably don’t realize that I’ve zoned out until it’s 5 minutes or even 10 minutes down the line. And then I have to make the decision whether or not to rewind back to hear what’s happened lol. Usually because I don’t know how much I’ve missed, I don’t bother rewinding back, AND that brings me to the next point.

#2. Sometimes I just can’t get into the story.

This often happens in conjunction with #1. If a lot is on my mind, then I only pay attention to maybe 50% of the story, or even less. When I’m missing parts of the story, then I’m not invested in the characters or the plot, and then I don’t even care about what happens next in the story. And because I no longer care about the story, it makes me zone out more.

#3. I can’t get used to the narration.

This is actually pretty uncommon. For the most part, I think audiobooks are done quite well. However, there are times when I am not used to how the narrator reads the book, and it makes me not want to listen to the book. You know how when you read a book, you can determine how a character sounds like, and how the dialogue sounds in your head? The thing with audiobooks is that all of this is done for you by the narrator. Again, most of the time it works, but occasionally it doesn’t.

#4. I can’t control my own reading pace.

This is a big one! I love how, when reading an ebook or physical book, I can control how fast or how slow I read a book. When it is a particularly dense section of the book with lots of information on the page, I can always choose to read the section again. When I am really excited to find out what happens next, I turn the page really quickly. On the other hand, when I listen to the audiobook, the pace is set. I can only listen to the book as quickly as the narrator says the words.

#5. It takes longer to finish a book.

In general, I read faster than listening to a person speak the words out to me. This means that if I want to read the same 15-hour audiobook in a print or ebook format, I’ll get through it faster.

#6. I am always multi-tasking when I listen to an audiobook. I am never just focusing on the book.

It might be just me. But I can curl up on the couch and read a print book or ebook, but I can’t do the same with an audiobook. It just feels weird to stare at the ceiling and listen to an audiobook? Because of this I can only listen to an audiobook when I am doing other stuff.

But sometimes I want to focus on reading a book. I love nothing more than spend a day binge-reading a book, though most of the times I don’t find an audiobook as addictive.

Again, maybe one of these days I’m going to give audiobooks a chance again. But not right now.

Have you read audiobooks before? If so, how do you like them? Have you ever had to “take a break” from a certain book format or genre?

35 thoughts on “Why I’m Taking a Break From Audiobooks

  1. I love this perspective! I’m into audiobooks for the same reasons and love that I can multitask and still be reading, but it tend to shop around a lot before settling on a certain book. That’s part of the reason why I’m so into podcasts right now: they’re 45 mins-1 hr long, so it’s less of a commitment. I feel you on wanting to curl up with a book; it feels for intimate that way, for some reason. Hope you find an awesome read!!

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  2. I started listening to audiobooks to give my eyes a break and avoid headaches, and so, mainly, I sit and listen to them whilst doing nothing at all! (I don’t stare at the ceiling though, I close my eyes). Sometimes I listen to one whilst walking or doing chores but I like to be able to focus on the book rather than other distractions.

    I’m fussy on audiobooks too; it has to be the right book for me, the right narrator for me, etc., so I don’t rely on them as a major source of my reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello 🙂 That’s true that listening to audiobooks gives us a break for the eyes. I am a bit impatient so I find it hard to sit still and just listen to the audiobook but I imagine that that can be a good experience too 🙂
      Yes! The right narrator is important. I do like some books as audiobooks more than others.

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      1. I don’t like speeding them up too much so I can enjoy the story. My husband speeds his up a lot more. I could probably do it if I wasn’t writing a review, but I still like the slower pace when listening. I do zone out a bit at times though.

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    1. Haha yeah, I have a love-hate relationship with audiobooks as well. Sometimes I go through an audiobook phase when I get through a lot of audiobooks at a time, but other times it’s the reverse 🙂 Thank you!

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  3. I loved reading about your experience with audiobooks! 🥰 I’ve tried them out with an Audible subscription last year, and I agree that zoning out happened to me a few times as well. I’m more of a visual person in general, so Fantasy audiobooks especially can be hard to take in with an expansive world (but you get to hear how the characters names are actually pronounced, so that’s an advantage 😄)

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    1. Hi Caro! Yes I definite agree!! I am a visual person too!! (That really should’ve been one of my points in this post hahaha) Haha I agree that it’s good to know how the characters’ names are pronounced. Sometimes I have the opposite thing where I have no idea how the characters’ names are spelled, soooo I struggle when I write a review haha XD

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  4. Narration is super important for me too! If I can’t like the narrator I’ll opt for the printed book! And I never “just” listen to an audiobook indeed but do other chores.

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  5. All of your points are super valid Sophie. Honestly, I find I can’t really get into audiobooks so I always go for the print version. I love creating my own impression of the characters’ voices in my head and with audiobooks the narrator, like you mentioned, does that for you. Great post! 😀

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  6. What an interesting perspective! I pretty much exclusively listen to audiobooks, but I too can find myself zoning out and multitasking. I think the thing is for me I’ve gotten used to adjusting to it. If I miss something, I go back and listen to it again and it doesn’t feel odd to me, it just feels like re-reading a passage in a book that I accidentally didn’t pay attention to. But I think the thing is I also have severe ADHD and so I’m used to repeating things because I wasn’t paying attention the first time. But I totally get how that could frustrate some people. As for multitasking, I only listen to audiobooks when I’m making art, walking somewhere, or doing mindless tasks like moving computer files. I don’t listen to them when I do chores or other tasks which (for me at least) require more attention. I guess I’ve just adjusted and adapted to listening to stories really well, but I also have more difficulty with reading physical books and e-books due to my ADHD and other disabilities I have, so I don’t have much of a choice. Sometimes I wonder if I had more of an option if I would appreciate other formats more, although that being said I do truly enjoy the art of oral storytelling, which in and of itself I think is an incredible art form. Anyhow, that’s a whole other tangent of a rabbit hole lol! Great post and thanks for getting me thinking!

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    1. That’s great to hear that you have good experience with audiobooks 🙂 Sounds like it is your preferred approach to reading, so I would say to go for it!
      I do agree that listening to audiobooks is a good way to fill the time when we’re doing mindless activities!
      For me I find that when there’s a lot on my mind, it’s really hard to focus on the audiobook and I miss a lot haha. That’s why for the next short while I am taking a break from audiobooks. But I did love audiobooks at an earlier point in time, and I want to go back to listening to audiobooks again in the future 🙂

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  7. This is such an interesting perspective, and one that I don’t see as often! I’m someone who has fallen more and more in love with audiobooks over the past year, but everyone has their own best way of reading, and it’s completely understandable that it’s not for you. If audiobooks are causing reading slumps, then I think it’s a great choice to stop listening to them and move to reading methods that you can enjoy more 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Margaret 🙂 I have my ups and downs when it comes to audiobooks. I had a phase last year when I really loved audiobooks, but these days I haven’t been in an audiobook mood haha. I agree that it depends on which format we enjoy more which can be a personal preference. Thanks Margaret 🙂

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  8. I really enjoyed reading this discussion and I can definitely agree that audio books have pros and cons. I only started listening to them last year from my library and I think my experience varies depending on the audiobook. Some of the time I feel like it is only the fact that the book runs out in 20 days that keep me motivated to pick up the audiobook whilst I have had 4 distinct books that I didn’t want to put down.
    But I do faze out at times and think what have I missed and I tend to multi task as well, I think walking is great and that one time I did it with colouring books worked really well.
    I think my favourite thing about audio books so far is that is gets me to try different type of books out that I would never buy myself.
    I think it is a personal preference and I do enjoy audiobooks from time to time but I definitely prefer physical books.
    I hope you have helped your slump and I loved reading this! 💛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sophie 🙂 Yes I get what you mean- when I borrow books from the library such as an audiobook, I definitely feel pressured to finish within a certain amount of time, and sometimes that can cause me to not enjoy the book as much.
      That’s great that you’ve enjoyed some audiobooks and that this format allowed you to try different types of books 🙂
      I definitely prefer physical books as well!

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  9. I make a living from long-form narration and audio production… but I must admit that I almost always prefer reading text versions whenever I’m enjoying books on my time! Isn’t that crazy? It’s the smell of a book and the feeling of paper, I think.

    However, there are plenty of people out there who simply default to audio for a variety of reasons, and I’m extremely grateful for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Darius 🙂
      That’s awesome that you work in narration and audio production.. Does that mean that you are involved in the production of audiobooks??
      Yes I love the smell of books and the feeling of a physical book in my hand as well 🙂 However quite a few of my close friends aren’t readers but swear by audiobooks! I think it comes down to a preference, and it’s awesome that audiobooks bring books to people who wouldn’t otherwise enjoy them 🙂

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      1. My career involves writing + narration for bone-dry technical stuff like training videos, corporate events, and other offline media. This year I’m making an effort to spread out and have more fun! I wrote a book last year and this year I’m releasing a chapter + audio every Friday on my blog. Hopefully I will start working with other writers to help them produce audiobooks too. And yes, audiobooks are great because they make all kinds of literature super accessible to people who can’t/won’t read them otherwise!

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  10. I started listening to audiobooks last year and fell in love with them. However, I can only listen to so much before I have to press pause and go do something else. They are very handy for when I’m commuting, but to me nothing will ever compare to actually holding a physical copy and getting lost in it.

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    1. Hi Juli, yes same here. I started listening to audiobooks to fill up the time on my commute or when I’m doing chores. However I still prefer the feeling of a physical book in my hands, and I don’t get “lost” in an audiobook as I do in a physical book 🙂

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  11. This is a really interesting discussion! I definitely can relate to the struggle of not being able to just sit and listen to an audiobook. It’s not particularly engaging to just sit and listen while staring off into the distance. 😅 I prefer to use audiobooks as a way to read while doing other things like walking, sewing or tidying. Oddly enough they seem to keep me focused during tasks where I usually get distracted. But I definitely understand why you’re struggling to listen to them – I usually save them for when I’m in the right mood.

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    1. Hi Abi 🙂 I definitely get that! Yes it’s not very engaging to just listen to and absorb audiobook without doing anything else. I also find that audiobooks help me feel motivated and focused when doing tasks like cleaning. It also depends on my mood as well 🙂

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