What Makes an Audiobook Great?

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Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly series created by Rukky at Eternity Books and hosted by Aria at Book Nook Bits.

This week’s topic is What Makes an Audiobook Great?

Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, what makes a good audiobook? Is it the narrators or does it depend on the genre?

I started listening to audiobooks more in the last six months than ever before. Despite initially believing I would not like them, it turns out that I love them! For me what makes a good depends on the length of the book and the narrator.

The reason I mention the length of the audiobook is because I have found that any audiobook that is more than ten hours will not hold my attention. Eight hours seems to be the ideal length for me. Even if I love the book, when it gets to ten hours or more it starts to feel like a chore to listen.

The narrator is also crucially important. If I do not like the voice, I will not be able to listen to it. I will not say the book in question but there was one book I tried to listen to and I could not make it ten minutes into the story because the narrator’s voice was just grating on my ears. Think: high-pitched, almost whining vocals.

Not only does the narrator’s voice have to be one I can stand, but they have to be able to change voices for different characters. This is not something I thought I would care about until I noticed that some narrators can achieve this successfully while other are lacking. One series I have been listening to on audio has a great narrator but her voice does not change very noticeably for each character and I have to rely on knowing the characters well enough to figure out who is saying what.

What are some of your recommendations for amazing audiobooks?

To touch on that last statement above, when I recently listened to It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey, I was floored by how well the narrator switched between the male and female character’s voices. Her portrayal of the male character was so convincing and it really surprised me.

Other notable narrators include the narrator for The Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells. Somehow, the narrator sounds exactly like what the main character sounds like in my head and I have seen other readers express that they feel the same way. Narrating audiobooks is truly a talent.

I will say that my favorite narrators are the authors themselves, which can be rare. If the introduction to the audiobook begins with “Read by the author…” I get very excited!

If you don’t listen to audiobooks, why not, and do you ever plan on doing so?

I’ll use this space to offer advice for those interested in listening to audiobooks. The way I got into audiobooks was by first listening to a book I had already read. From there I picked short books that I could listen to in one or two sittings, and found that I liked the experience.

Some people express difficulties with audiobooks because their mind wanders and they find themselves no longer listening. I can attest to this happening at times and having to rewind a few minutes or even a whole chapter. Ultimately, if you are not a fan of audiobooks I think it is best to stick to physical or e-books rather than force yourself to like to sit through the audio.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Tell me in the comments!

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