Reading Tips

A Beginner’s Guide to Audiobooks: How to Start Listening

Are you looking for a way to read more books? Audiobooks might be the answer for you!

Last Updated on June 19, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle

How Audiobooks Can Help You Read More

Audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular as a way to read books and for a good reason.  Especially because they can be a great way to fit some or more reading into your busy schedule.   Personally, audiobooks are beneficial in my own reading life. While nothing beats cozying up with a nice hardcover book where I can touch, feel, and smell the pages; audiobooks help me a ton when I’m on the go. They’ve become staples in the car during my commute, on my way for pickup, and when I’m doing chores around the house. But I also understand that for some readers, diving into the world of audiobooks can feel like discovering a secret garden you never knew existed right in your backyard.

For those of you eager to explore this enchanting realm but wondering exactly how does audiobooks work or how to get into audiobooks, you’ve stumbled upon the perfect beginner’s guide to audiobooks! Imagine unwinding after a long day or multitasking during your daily commute, all while being whisked away into captivating stories, insightful biographies, or empowering self-help guides. Audiobooks are an incredible way to enrich your life, offering a personal soundtrack that can spark joy, provide comfort, and even introduce you to a community of fellow listeners. So whether you’re a voracious reader looking to switch up your routine or to ignite a love for stories in a new format, or if you’re new to audiobooks, on the fence about trying them, your experience was not good, or you don’t know how to get started, keep reading.  Here are twelve tips to help you start listening to audiobooks today! 

Tips to Start Listening to Audiobooks

A Beginner’s Guide to Audiobooks: How to Start Listening

Tip One: Use your library.

While there are popular subscription services like LibroFm, Audible, and Scribd, please do not get a subscription straightaway.  This is especially important if you are new to audiobooks or your experience was not good.  There will be too much pressure to buy the “right book,” and if the one you selected isn’t working for you, you might feel pressure to continue listening because you paid for it.  Instead, check out your first couple of audiobooks from your local library.  Libraries are an excellent resource and a low-pressure entry point because you can get audiobooks for free! My library uses the Overdrive app Libby! I signed up using my library card, and voila, I have a wide range of audiobook options to choose from.

Tip Two: Consider listening to a book you’ve already read.

Wait, wait, I know what you’re thinking.  You want to read more books, not listen to books you’ve already read.  I get that, but familiarity with a book will help make it easier for you to follow on audio.  

When you’re just getting into audio, it might feel overwhelming trying to catch every detail.  So listening to something familiar will help you feel more relaxed and help you learn how to listen. 

Consider revisiting a book you’ve read a loved a year or two ago that is still front of mind, but the details aren’t so fresh — or maybe revisiting the previous book in the series before starting the latest book. 

Tip Three: Find an audiobook in a genre that interests you.

There are so many great audiobooks out there, and it can be tough to pick just one.  But try to find one that looks interesting to you or is in a genre that you usually enjoy reading.  This is where staying in your comfort zone is not bad, especially if you are new to audiobooks or your past experience was not good.

In my experience, I have also discovered that there are some genres and stories I do not enjoy on audio. If a story is more character-driven like literary fiction or women’s fiction books, I don’t enjoy it on audio. But I adore listening to plot-driven audiobooks like thrillers, mysteries, fantasy, and adventure books. I also enjoy nonfiction on audio, so I find myself listening to a lot of memoirs, biographies, and self-help audiobooks. So start with genres that you enjoy first and then branch out and try new genres or books about topics that interest you, you just might surprise yourself!

Tip Four: Check out the narrator.

Once you’ve found an audiobook that interests you, look at the narrator. Undoubtedly, narrators can make or break your audiobook listening experience. Before committing to a book, listen to samples before buying or checking out from the library. 

Found a narrator you love? Excellent! See if they have any other books you’ve liked in the past or books of current interest. Not so sure about the narrator? See if there are any reviews from other readers on the audiobook’s page. 

Tip Five: Listen with headphones.

This might seem like an obvious tip, but it can be a game-changer, especially if you’ve been listening to audiobooks on speakers or with the volume on high from a mobile device.  Listening with headphones will help you hear the words and details more clearly, which can be helpful when following along.  Additionally, it will also help minimize outside distractions so that you can focus on the book. 

Tip Six: Set aside some time to listen or pair it with a task or activity.

Audiobooks can be anywhere from a few hours to over twenty hours long, so you can set aside some time to listen or pair it with a task.  If you’re setting aside time to listen or using audiobooks to relax and unwind, find a comfortable spot where you can sit or lie down without being interrupted. 

If you want to pair it with a task or activity, that’s an excellent option too.  It can help make mundane or otherwise mindless tasks go by quickly.  For example, consider pairing it with your workout routine, during your commute, or extended drives.  Audiobooks can also be paired with chores such as vacuuming, doing dishes, laundry, and cooking.  You can also pair audiobooks with hobbies such as puzzling, knitting, drawing, and painting. 

12 Tips to Start Listening to Audiobooks

Tip Seven: Set a goal or challenge yourself.

If you love reading challenges or setting goals, consider doing the same with audiobooks!  For example, you can set a goal to listen to a certain number of books in a year or participate in an audiobook challenge.  There are tons of different ways to go about this, so have fun with it and be creative! 

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas:

  • Read an audiobook that is outside of your comfort zone or norm.
  • Start with a shorter audiobook and work your way up to longer ones.
  • Read (or listen) to a book that has been adapted into a movie or tv show.
  • Participate in an audiobook buddy read.

Tip Eight: Follow along with the book.

One great thing about audiobooks is that you can usually follow along with the physical book or e-book.  This can help you keep track of where you are and make it easier to follow the story.  Also, if you’re new to audiobooks or your experience was not good, following along in the book can help make it easier to keep track of places, the characters, and the overall plot.

Tip Nine: Make use of the speed options.

Most audiobook platforms or apps will have a speed option which can be helpful if you want to listen to the book faster or if the narrator’s speaking pace is too slow for your liking.  Play around with the different speeds to find what works best for you.  For example, I like to listen at a slightly faster pace because it helps me stay more engaged, but some people might prefer to listen at a slower pace to take in all the details.

Tip Ten: Take breaks as needed.

Just like with regular reading, your mind might start to wander after a while.  Plus, listening to audiobooks can be taxing on your ears and brain.  When this happens, don’t be afraid to take a break.  Get up and walk around, or do something else for a few minutes before coming back to the audiobook.  If you start feeling lost, frustrated, or confused, take a break for a little bit and come back later when you are fresh.  It’s okay if it takes longer to listen to an audiobook than it would take you to read the book because you are listening and not reading.  Remember, our goal is to enjoy the story, not feel like you are struggling through it. 

Tip Eleven: Consider a subscription.

Once you’ve gotten more comfortable and confident with audiobooks, you can consider getting a subscription with an audiobook service provider.  Don’t forget to pay attention to sales that do not require the use of credits — some for $5 or less.  This is a great way to get more bang for your buck, snag some bestsellers, and work alongside books you already have on your shelves and the ones you check out from the library. 

Tip Twelve: Try something new.

This last tip is really for all readers, not just those new to audiobooks.  But it’s especially important for audiobooks because there are so many different formats and genres available.  For example, if you are someone who only reads non-fiction, why not try listening to a fiction book?  Or, if you’ve never been big on audio, maybe start with an abridged version.  Abridged books are typically shorter than the regular versions and are meant to be listened to.  There are also a lot of excellent short stories and novellas that are perfect for audiobooks.  So don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.  You might just find your new favorite book or narrator! 

Beginners Guide to Start Audiobooks

Frequently Asked Questions about Audiobooks

How do beginners listen to audiobooks?

Diving into audiobooks is as easy as pie and incredibly rewarding! For beginners, the first step is choosing the right platform or app that suits your needs—popular options include Audible and the Overdrive app Libby, among others. Once you’ve picked your platform, it’s time to select your very first audiobook. Don’t worry about committing to a long title right away; many platforms offer samples or even full books for free, giving you a perfect chance to dip your toes in. After you’ve made your choice, simply download the audiobook, plug in your headphones, and press play. Whether you’re lounging at home, commuting to work, or taking a relaxing walk, your audiobook can accompany you, making every moment an opportunity to explore new worlds and ideas. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to start—just open your heart to the stories waiting to be heard, and let your imagination soar!

Where do I start with audiobooks?

Choosing your first audiobook might seem like a daunting task, but it’s truly an exciting venture into a limitless world of storytelling! To begin, think about your interests and passions. Are you enthralled by mystery novels, or do you prefer the thrill of science fiction? Maybe you seek wisdom from self-help books or love immersing yourself in historical narratives. Start by selecting a genre or author that piques your interest. Many audiobook platforms feature curated lists and recommendations, making it easier to discover books that resonate with you. Additionally, don’t overlook the power of a great narrator. A captivating voice can enhance the storytelling experience, transforming a good story into an unforgettable adventure. I promise the perfect audiobook to kickstart your adventure is out there, waiting to be discovered.

Do you actually learn from audiobooks?

Absolutely! Audiobooks are a brilliant way to absorb knowledge and gain new insights, all while engaging your imagination in a deeply immersive way. Think of them as your mentors and storytellers rolled into one, offering lessons on a platter of narrative elegance. Whether it’s history, science, personal development, or any other field, listening to audiobooks can be just as educational—if not more—than traditional reading. They bring concepts to life through the power of voice, making complex ideas easier to understand and remember. Plus, audiobooks are perfect for auditory learners who grasp information more effectively through listening. And here’s a tip to enhance your learning experience: try jotting down notes or reflecting on the key takeaways after each listening session. This way, you’re not just passively hearing the content, but actively engaging with it, ensuring that the lessons stick with you. So, yes, you can absolutely learn from audiobooks; they’re a doorway to vast knowledge, ready to be unlocked with a simple press of the “play” button.

Is there a way to listen to audiobooks for free?

Why, yes! Embarking on an audiobook adventure doesn’t have to cost a dime; there are several fabulous ways to enjoy audiobooks for free. Public libraries are hidden treasures, offering a vast selection of audiobooks through apps like OverDrive’s Libby. With just your library card, you can access an entire world of stories and knowledge without spending anything. Furthermore, platforms like Project Gutenberg and LibriVox provide free public domain audiobooks, narrated by volunteers from around the globe. Spotify and YouTube also have a range of audiobooks available at no cost. These options are perfect for explorers keen to jump into the audiobook universe without the commitment of a subscription.

What do you think about these tips for new audiobook listeners?

Do you have any other tips for getting started with audiobooks?  What tips would you add to this audiobook guide for beginners? What speed do you listen to your audiobooks? Who is your favorite narrator? Let’s talk all about audiobooks in the comments below.


A Beginner's Guide to Audiobooks

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