The Pros and Cons of Audiobooks

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The Pros and Cons of Audiobooks

June Is Audiobook Appreciation Month–What Are the Pros and Cons of Audiobooks?

Audiobook appreciation month is designed to raise awareness of the audio format and increase people’s engagement with audiobooks. I must admit upfront to not being a massive fan. Still, any opportunity to introduce somebody to the world of literature and books must be good—Right? We have many ways of getting our book fix; from the traditional hardback and paperback to the more recent e-books and audiobooks. There’s a format to suit every type of reader. Love it or loathe it, the audiobook is here to stay, so what are the benefits?

Hands-free — Being able to multi-task can be a real bonus. I loathe housework, and having something to take my mind off the boredom of the task is a blessing. I put on Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a book I have been reading in paperback for some time but just hadn’t found the time to finish. I put up the ironing board, dragged out the towering pile of laundry that had been sitting in the corner for weeks (I prefer not to say how many), pressed play, and got to work. I have to admit that I got through most of the ironing, and it was much more engaging than staring out of the window and wishing I was somewhere else. I also realized that audiobooks are great for those with dexterity issues, where turning a page or holding a book would be challenging.

Breaks the Silence — When I’m home alone, I often turn on the TV as background noise. Would listening to an audiobook be a better use of that time? While prepping the dinner one evening, I put on The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, a book I had wanted to re-read before starting on the sequel, The Testaments. Yes, it created the background noise I was looking for and gave me another voice to listen to rather than talking to myself. Yet, I wasn’t concentrating on the story, just the ‘noise.’ I could imagine it would have benefits for those living alone; thinking back to those long days of quarantine and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, I can see how it would help alleviate loneliness, but it wasn’t successful for me as I wasn’t hearing the story—just merely acknowledging the voice. Again, as with the hands-free benefit, audiobooks are hugely beneficial for those with visual impairments who find reading any traditional book format difficult if not impossible. 

Me Time — What about when you want to sit down, curl up, and read a good book? Or when you want to go for a long walk in nature to chase away a challenging work day? When you have an hour to devote to yourself, and you get to switch off and let go of everything else—good old-fashioned story time! I’d bought The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid during an Audible trial and had never gotten around to starting it. Here was my chance. I made tea, got comfortable on the sofa with the cat, put on my headphones, and pressed play. Within 15 minutes, I had flicked into Instagram on my phone and was scrolling. I rewound the recording and started again. I found myself drifting again and scribbled a list of groceries I needed. Consciously making myself put down the pen, I realized that I’d heard very little of what I was listening to and pressed stop. I like the feel of a book in my hands, and even an e-reader or my iPad has the tangibility that I need to satisfy my need to always be doing something or visually observing something. My attempt wasn’t hugely successful, and the book remains unread.

Portable and Accessible — This is where e-books and audiobooks come into their own. We were flying to San Francisco and had many hours to fill during the flight and at the airport (I actually had more hours than expected due to a four-hour delay!). I selected a few books from those on my reading pile and then looked for a couple more from my ‘to read’ list. Before I knew it, I had six books that I wanted to take with me, six books that would not only take up valuable space but also weigh a couple of kilos; in these days of having to pay for checked luggage, that was something I wanted to avoid. I found four on audiobook and the other two on e-book, which was great for saving space. However, I don’t think I saved any dollars as audiobooks can still be expensive. Suppose you want to go down the audiobook route—in that case, it might be worth investing in a subscription to a provider like Audible, Kobo, or Apple Books.

My verdict on audiobooks is that they definitely have a time and place and the medium provides greater inclusion than the traditional formats. I see the benefit for those who struggle to hold or read a traditional book and for those with limited time or possibilities to sit down and read a conventional book or e-book. Unfortunately, they don’t really work for me as I am too easily distracted and so easily drift into something else that prevents me from giving the story my full attention. I am still to be converted and will try again sometime in the future. 

What’s your experience with audiobooks? Do you have any tips for others who may want to explore the world of audiobooks? Which provider would you recommend? Let us know here!

Jacqui Hodges

With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.

A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for  industry publications.

Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli


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