Audio Adventures: Listening Quirks

Welcome to another edition of Audio Adventures! Today I'm going to talk about 

Quirks of Being an Audiobook Listener

Quirk #1
I've found that when I talk about loving audiobooks with people, even more than with books, people LOVE to give me recommendations. This is a problem for me because of my biggest audiobook quirk which is that I only listen to audiobooks that I have previously read. If you're giving me a weird look, I get it. Some people listen to audiobooks to increase the total number of books they read each year; some people only listen to audiobooks. Sadly, these things don't work for me.

I'm an auditory learner when it comes to things like music and accents. I was in band for over a decade of my life, and I was always a terrible sight-reader. Notes don't come easily to me. The best way to learn a new piece of music was to hear it, and then I understood my part. When it comes to everything else, though, I'm very much a visual person. This is why I love to read. It's why I prefer to read blogs and write my own than listen to podcasts or watch youtube videos. The sounds distract me.

When I got hooked on audiobooks, I was commuting about 10 hours each week. Two years ago, I started working two jobs and was commuting about 13 hours each week. Thanks to a certain amount of job flexibility, I also attended a LOT of book events in other cities, which would result in 7-10 hour round trips. All of this meant I had plenty of time each day where I couldn't do anything but listen as I drove, and if you've ever listened to the radio, you know they play about 10 songs and 10 commercials on repeat. I got so sick of the radio! I was given a recommendation to listen to Libba Bray's Beauty Queens, which is a novel I loooooved reading. I gave it a shot, and lo and behold, the audio was fan-freaking-tastic! But I noticed as I listened that sometimes driving needed my attention and I'd realize I missed several minutes of the book. There's a joke floating around the internet about how people turn down their radios when they're navigating as if not listening to music will help you see better.

Haha, but really. Just as you hear better when your eyes are closed, you can see better when it's quiet. This is because your brain can focus more on one sense or the other. My car is old, and it has a CD player, and that's it. I also don't really like listening to stuff on my phone for long periods of time because 1. it runs the battery down, and 2. my car's speakers are WAY better than my phone's. So when I kept missing moments in the book, I would have to rewind the CD (which is super awkward to do) and hope that I got to the right spot. 

The good news is that because I had previously read Beauty Queens, it wasn't so bad missing a little bit because I already knew what happened. So rediscover a beloved book in a new way? Check. Didn't miss any of the story because I already knew it? Check. 

These days my commute is down to about 15 minutes each way, but I get to listen to books a lot more at work, and the same rule applies. If I zone out of my book because I'm working on a project that requires more brain function, I don't actually miss anything because I've read it before. Call me crazy, but out of seven books I have listened to without reading first, four of them have received lower ratings than I would have given them if I'd read them first. You might say, "But Mary! That's half!" But I'm trying to go for a better percentage than 50. Listening to books I've read before brings me a great deal of pleasure. Some people call it weird, but whatever. This is what I like, and it works for me. 

Quirk #2
Related to #1, this year I discovered a new and admittedly odd way to listen to books. One thing about audiobooks that is attractive to readers is that it's an easy way to reread books in series without throwing your entire TBR aside before a new sequel comes out. But I've found it's really interesting to listen to the first book while I read the sequel. I know what you're thinking, and no, I don't mean simultaneously. Like, I'm not playing the audio while I'm reading. But while I'm at work or whatever, I'll listen to book 1, and when I read, I'll read book 2. Example: I started listening to A Court of Thorns and Roses on June 14. I started reading A Court of Mist and Fury on June 26. I finished ACOMAF on June 30 and the ACOTAR audio on July 5. I also did this with Gemina and the Illuminae audio this summer. I tried to do it with Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, but because Reasons, Life and Work and Sleep got in the way. Lest you think this is only a YA or a genre fic thing, I also did this with Elle Kennedy's new adult Off Campus series. Last week I read The Goal (book 4) and listened to The Score (book 3). 

Again, you may call me crazy, but consuming series books during the same time span made me catch SO MANY THINGS in the first book that reference stuff that happens in the second. FORESHADOWING, MOTHER LOVERS. It's super cool to pick up on little hints that make you go "ohhhhhhhh," and it's also really interesting to have such a stark difference in the characters' development. I'm a nerd for things like that so this is definitely something I'll be doing more often.

Quirk #3
As I stated in the Perks of Being a Listener, it's awesome to listen to an audio adaptation of a beloved book because you get to read it for the first time again, in a manner of speaking. Quirk 3 is that I am sometimes too impatient to wait very long and often listen to an audiobook mere months, weeks, or even days after I read the book. In fact, I've found that if I wait too long, I have trouble listening to the book because I've forgotten too much of it. I recently tried to listen to Huntley Fitzpatrick's My Life Next Door so that I could finally read The Boy Most Likely To. MLND was one of my favorite books in 2012, but that was a big problem trying to listen to it in 2016. It's been three and a half years, and I have forgotten all but the bare bones of Sam and Jase's story. This is super sad, and now I have to actually reread MLND, which could be a problem with my TBR. 

How long does it take me before I listen to the audiobook? It's hard to say. I'm much looser with my audio TBR than my reading one because it's so easy to reread. Even though audiobooks technically take longer to read since they can be anywhere from 7 to 24 hours for most YA and romance, I can get through them more quickly since I can listen during work and stuff. I binged half of Sarina Bowen's The Ivy Years series in January, and I binged the audiobooks throughout all of July. I read The Beauty of Darkness at the beginning of August and listened to the audio three weeks later. I read ACOMAF at the end of June and the audio at the end of July. It just kind of depends on my mood and also release dates since I get ARCs, but I have never gotten an audiobook to review (to all those of you listening to Gemina right now: I AM SO JEALOUS). 

Quirk #4
Sometimes, if I am REALLY reluctant to leave a world behind or if I just like an audiobook so much, I'll listen to it again immediately after finishing. I've done this with movies too, particularly Tangled, Frozen, Because I Said So, and Pride and Prejudice. It's a comfort thing. I love Christina Lauren books, and they have REALLY good narrators so I've twice binged both of their series on audio (once last fall and once this past spring). In April, I listened to Beautiful Player twice, back-to-back. This also happened in July with Sarina Bowen's Blonde Date from The Ivy Years, which I listened to fully twice and then one time, I just skipped around the chapters. Coincidentally, I listened to it again last week when I was emotionally devastated by another book and needed something sweet, light, and happy to take my mind off said emotional devastation. It doesn't hurt that Blonde Date is a novella so it's less than three hours long, but Player is about 10, I think, so it's not just about length. 

What do you think about my quirks? I know I'm actually not alone regarding listening to audiobooks that I've previously read so it's common as far as quirks go. But what about the rest? Do you have any audio quirks? Please share in the comments!


  1. I guess I prefer to listen to a book first and reread it after that. If narration was good, I continue to hear voices from the audiobook while reading it. Several times when I tried to do it other way (read first and listen to the audiobook after) I enjoyed it less. Mostly it was because I imagined characters’ voices while reading, and obviously they were not the same in the audiobook. It’s the same for me with movie adaptations. I usually read book before going to the movie. But I can see how your “method” works for you. What can I say, if that works for you, do it your way.

    Your second point is not actually an issue for me. I don’t read ARCs and I don’t actually have any reading issue. I just grab a book depending on my current mood. So I have no problem throwing my TBR aside. Also I prefer to binge read series. It never crossed my mind to try to listen to the first book while I read the sequel. I’m not sure this is my thing, but I agree in this case you can pick up little hints.

    Blonde Date is the only book from The Ivy Years that I haven’t read. I’ll look for audio since you listened it several times.

    Lovely post, Mary. It was really interesting to read about your quirks and find a couple of recommendations along the way.

    PS. I’ve listened to the audiobook The Boy Most Likely To, and it’s amazing. Highly recommended.

  2. I like to listen to a book, then I may re-read parts of it if I have a copy of the book. When I review a book, I like to include some favorite quotes in my review and it's certainly very helpful (and more accurate) to pull the quotes from a print or ebook copy. I don't think I've every listened to a book that I'd already read. I'll have to consider it!