Audio Books: Do You Like Fiction, Nonfiction or just Jim Dale?


I have had a love / hate relationship with audio books over the years. Every now and then I come across a book with such an excellent narrator that I become enthralled and think, “Audio books are the BEST!” and decide I’m going to listen to them all the time. But it turns out that not all audio book narrators are as awesome as, say, Jim Dale who narrates the Harry Potter audio books or Peter and the Starcatchers.

Apparently I am picky when it comes to my narrators and most of them don’t pass the test. My husband is even pickier – he’ll last about forty seconds with an audiobook that he considers subpar. If the narrator’s voice doesn’t sound quite right – if his voices aren’t stellar or he has an NPR Me To Sleep quality, it’s just not going to work out. Maybe audio books aren’t for me after all?

It turns out that the answer is “Audio books are for me sometimes.” Just as in all other areas of life, the situation simply isn’t black and white. Not all books are for me. Not all podcasts are for me. Not all tv shows are for me. Not all coffee drinks are for me. Not all audio books are for me. But I love all of these things when I find a good one.

51mrYX4OyxL._SY346_The other week I decided on a whim to use a lingering Audible credit on Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast As I Can. I’m a huge Gilmore Girls fan and love Lauren Graham so it was bumming me out that I was having a hard time getting through her latest book. It wasn’t even for lack of interest, I just didn’t seem to be making good time on the kindle edition or with reading in general.

Five minutes into the Audible copy and I had an ah ha moment. Of course I would rather listen to Lauren read the book to me. The best thing about a celebrity memoir is that feeling that you are now BFFs with your favorite celebs. Getting an intimate peek into their thoughts and lives, a behind the scenes glimpse at your favorite shows – it’s like having a backstage pass for Hollywood.

And unlike fiction, there’s no lingering thoughts of “Does this voice sound like how I picture the character sounding?” or “Can this narrator even pull off the voice for all these characters?” Who else is better suited to tell me Lauren Graham’s story than Lauren herself? I started listening to the audio book during my daily commutes around town and at school pick up and in a matter of days the book was finished. And I enjoyed it!

So here’s my lightbulb idea:

Maybe I prefer listening to nonfiction audio books? With the exception of Jim Dale, I usually find fiction disappointing in audio form. So instead of bailing on the format, I’m going to try listening to more nonfiction and see if I like that better.

Reasons I think I’ll Prefer Nonfiction Audio Books:

  • I’ll get to listen to the actual author of the book.
  • I won’t be distracted by the voices not sounding like the characters in my head.
  • Nonfiction should work perfect for killing thirty minutes here and there and not worrying that I’m going to forget the entire plot if I get busy for a week.
  • And maybe it will result in me “reading” more nonfiction? Bonus Points, really.

Maybe Lauren Graham is my nonfiction Jim Dale and this idea will fizzle out but I think I might be on to something. So I’m going to test this theory out by listening to three nonfiction titles I’ve been wanting to read and see if the results are the same.

Up next is:

Do you listen to audio books?

Any favorite narrators or genres?

One response to “Audio Books: Do You Like Fiction, Nonfiction or just Jim Dale?”

  1. Jess (Randomly Jess) Avatar

    I really haven’t even tried audiobooks. I think because most of the time when I’m reading it’s when I really can’t be listening to things (like at work, in between patients). Although, I really think I would read more if I could find a good audiobook to listen to while I’m down with, say a migraine, where I can listen to something quietly in the dark. Hmmmm…