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dave

June 3rd 2014 12:31 pm

Trying to enjoy audiobooks, but it's difficult...



This morning, I drove into work and decided to try to listen to the audiobook version of the fifth Game of Thrones book, Dance with Dragons. I'm about half way through it at this point and am willing to try almost anything to finish it -- I've been reading it for over a month now. (My next post will probably be on these new "speed reading" apps...)

Anyway, I've always had a hard time getting into audiobooks. I'm not sure whether I have A.D.H.D. or what, but I seem to lose my focus after a few minutes of listening. It's been a few years since I last tried to listen to an audiobook, so I figured that maybe I had grown up and matured a bit. Or something.

Sadly, today was no different. I'm driving in and a few minutes go by and I suddenly tune into what the narrator is saying, realizing I missed a whole section! So, now I quickly jump backwards and listen in again, only to lose focus a few minutes later. I just don't get it.

Perhaps there are some various tips and tricks I should try to enjoy audiobooks like speeding them up or maybe even locking myself in a sensory deprivation tank?

I'm interested to hear if others enjoy audiobooks over reading (I do read a lot!) and whether or not you've had similar experiences to me.

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13 replies
HughesNet

Honestly it doesn't sound like it is for you. I guess you are to easily distracted :) I take offense though to the implication that not being able to follow an audiobook means you are more mature!!!! I listen to a good 3 hours a day lol. Now, the Gme of thrones series I read the actual books, so I can't speak to the narrator. But it could just be that you have a bad narrator. I have found that some of them I just love. And some are a pain to get through and it does usually come down to who is doing the reading.
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kris

I think the A Song of Ice and Fire series is better served by actually reading it, as the maps and appendices really help with keeping track of all the locations and characters (of which there are a lot).
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dave

Hah, I'm not going to deny that possibility!

If I may ask, what are some audiobooks that you particularly enjoy? Maybe that's what I need to do -- find some that are superb and try that instead.
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HughesNet

Well that is going to come down to the sort of book you like. Some good books that had a great narrator would be the Harry Dresden series which is urban fantasy, the Wheel of Time series which is straight up fantasy, The Ender's Game series which is Sci Fi, The Iron Druid Chronicles which is more urban fantasy. I may be able to be more specific if you don't like this type of book. I have over 400 books in my audible library and have had my account for over 15 years.
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dotEvan

The only audiobook I ever listened to was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was a ton of fun. Maybe that will be better for you.

I listened to it while I took BART to work and I didn't have any issues concentrating. However, I think if I was driving, I don't think it would work as well - there's too much going on outside of my listening experience that I need to pay attention to that it would become too distracting.
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Met

The Guide is a different kind of audiobook that can't easily be compared to the standard. Most audiobooks are unabridged versions, which are basically just someone reading the book out loud. The Guide, on the other hand, is a dramatisation, which is voice actors each playing a character and many sound effects with a lot of the narration removed.

That said, I'm a huge fan of dramatisation. I'm currently listening to the Dirk Gently series, also by Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
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dotEvan

The audio book that I listened to was narrated by Steven Fry. I listened to it a long time ago, but I don't remember it being a dramatization. www.amazon.com­/The­-Hitchhikers­-Guide­-Galaxy­/dp­/B00...
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Met

My bad. I mixed up the radio show with the audiobook of the novels. The novels got unabridged recordings, but the original radio show was dramatised.
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kris

I like the idea of audiobooks, and it would be so awesome if I could just put a book one and listen to it while I'm working. I'd get so much "reading" done! But, alas, I tend to tune out audio when I'm working, and when I'm not working, I tune it out anyway. Sometimes I even fall asleep in the middle, and then I have no idea what the hell just happened when I wake up. It's irritating.

I have the same issue with podcasts, actually. Even Welcome to Night Vale. I want to like it, but I just zzzzzzz.......
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frankspin

I completely understand your experience, and it's a big reason I have trouble with podcasts. When I want to listen to something I'm trying to focus on other things, so it's hard to get into anything involving attention. The only time I've ever had luck was in the car, but it wasn't always easy. I think it largely depends on the narrator of the book.
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Met

I listen to A LOT of audiobooks. Been a member on Audible.com for a few years, getting at least 2 books a month.

I agree with Joshua about not being able to follow an audiobook doesn't mean you're not mature. It could mean multiple things:
  1. Audiobooks just aren't for you. I know many people who just couldn't get interested enough to pay attention or had some ADHD or equivalent.
  2. Bad narration. I've been put off by many books due to the narrator. Although I have a bit of trouble following the British accent some times, I do tend to find that almost all the best narrators are British.
  3. The book just isn't so compatible to be listened to and does require being read. Some books require a visual aid to them, included in the form of illustrations in a book.
  4. You could just be pre-occupied or be doing something that requires a certain level of concentration.
Tips:
  1. Try other books, especially ones with good narration. If you give me genres you're interested in, I could give you some good recommendations.
  2. Don't do anything that requires any brain activity, but don't just be sitting down on a couch. If you're doing anything that requires concentration, you'll have trouble paying attention to the book. I find paying attention while on my bicycle pretty tough because it requires more attention for cards and stuff. However, the ideal time for me is while driving my car.
  3. Don't listen while others are around, they can be quite the distraction.
  4. Get an app, like Audible's official app, with a 1-click rewind 30s. It's a LIFESAVER!
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danielfcb

I've got the same problem, so I don't listen to books, I rather to read. What's funny that my boyfriend got the same problem with regular books, he can't read because he can't stay focus, he rather to listen to books :D
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Met

I'm the same as your boyfriend. I love books, but I can't focus on reading no matter what. I've struggled all through school with that. Luckily, I work in IT, where you can get videos teaching everything. :D
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