5 Types of Audiobooks That Converted A Reluctant Listener

July 28, 2016 Audiobooks 19

5 Types of Audiobooks That Converted A Reluctant Listener


A few years ago, I started listening to audiobooks while training for my first half marathon and could never really find my groove. I had trouble concentrating on the stories and inevitably ended up not liking books that I might have liked had I read them in print. I lamented about this at length in this post.

So, after letting my Audible account languish unused for well over a year, I finally decided to cancel it. I had a number of credits available, so I randomly downloaded a bunch of audiobooks just to use them up. I tried In the Water They Can’t See You Cry (a sports memoir) first…but, instead of listening while running, I listened while getting ready for bed, unpacking groceries, cooking (when my children weren’t screaming in the background), and driving (again, minus those screaming children). And, what do you know?! I had no trouble concentrating and, just like that, I was back on the audiobook bandwagon! Since then, I’ve found a few types of audiobooks that work well for me…

Celebrity Memoirs

Recent Success: Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler

Possible Next Listen: Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

Life Improvement

Recent Success: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck by Sarah Knight, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Possible Next Listen: How to Be A Person in the World by Heather Havrilesky

Social/Behavioral Sciences

Recent Success: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Possible Next Listens: Originals by Adam Grant, You May Also Like by Tom Vanderbilt

Sports Memoirs

Recent Success: In the Water They Can’t See You Cry by Amanda Beard

Possible Next Listens: Age Is Just A Number by Dara Torres; Two Hours by Ed Caesar

Trashy Celebrity Exposes

Recent Success: The Kardashian Dynasty by Ian Halperin

Possible Next Listen: Brangelina by Ian Halperin

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Do you have trouble concentrating on audiobooks? These suggestions might change your tune!

19 Responses to “5 Types of Audiobooks That Converted A Reluctant Listener”

  1. Pua

    I just finished Love, Loss and What We Ate and it was wonderful! A beautiful memoir. Another audiobook that I recently listened to and really liked was Shrill by Lindy West. I guess that would fall under essay collection? 🙂

    • Sarah Dickinson

      So glad to hear that and I bet the Lindy West would be good on audio!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      You know..I’ve never paid attention to what person the narration was, but maybe I should!

  2. Care

    I have also found that audiobooks help me get through chunkster classics – usually the books are free as ebooks (because really old) and then I give myslef permission to zone out on boring passages if they happen (as they might – see Moby Dick as example) I don’t think I would have gotten through MB if I had attempted print read but wow, the good parts are even more fantastic when listened to.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I commend you for reading Moby Dick in whatever form you managed to get through it! I’m pretty sure I’ll never get to that one 🙂

  3. Carmen

    I started listening to Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kannon (a novel) and zoned out probably in the first paragraph. I’m not willing to repeat the experience, but you may be up to something and maybe it has to do with certain genres not being ideal to be listened to.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Haha – well that was quick! I had to go through so many different kinds of audios to find my groove and also which times worked best for me to listen. For example, audiobooks don’t work for me while running, but podcasts do.

  4. Katie McD @ Bookish Tendencies

    Yes, it definitely takes a bit to find your audiobook groove. I find success with memoirs as well, nonfiction as long as it’s not too footnotes heavy, and straightforward narrative fiction. I also like using to revisit old favorites like Harry Potter and Matilda. The next one up on my really want to listen list is “In This Country We Love” by Diane Guerrero.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I haven’t yet found any fiction that works for me so far, but maybe a re-read…I haven’t tried that yet!

      And – I think memoirs would work well for me too. The Padma Lakshmi book I’m planning to read is kind of one and sports memoirs have worked for me.

  5. Tara

    I find it interesting that I’m not super-excited about listening to audio about running while I’m running…is this super weird? HA! I do enjoy listening to nonfiction (I can’t seem to be able to stick to fiction on the go) and I do like other sports-related topics/books. I’d like to try the Amanda Beard one and I also love things by authors like Cheryl Strayed and Brene Brown. Oooh, or things like Quiet by Susan Cain; that was a GREAT audio choice!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I’m 100% with you! Fiction is a no go for me and podcasts work better for me while running. I saved Bachelorette Party for my 800’s on the track tomorrow 🙂

      Brene Brown is a great suggestion – adding that to my list! And I’m almost done with Tiny Beautiful Things right now and it’s by far my favorite audio I’ve ever listened to!

  6. Megan -- booksandcarbs

    I will listen to any genre, but I do try to avoid novels that I expect will include tragic/raw moments. I feel like I can steel and prepare myself more when reading a print or ebook, but the experience of listening is sometime too visceral for certain types of moments.

    I have been listening to audiobooks since I commuted to my first job in 1998. I say it all the time, but I cannot imagine (solo) car trips or household chores without them.

    Happy to hear you’ve found your audiobook groove!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      That’s an interesting point about really graphic stuff and I imagine I’d feel the same way (but haven’t yet put it to the test). I can read about really graphic stuff that I definitely wouldn’t be able to watch in a movie or TV show…I’m guessing audio would fall somewhere in the middle for me.

      And agreed on the commuting/chores!

  7. Allison @ The Book Wheel

    I’m with you on a lot of these. My audiobooks tend to work only if they are 7-10 hours, non-fiction, and focus on either self-help, memoir, or science/behavioral science. I have some great recs if you’re interested 🙂

    • Sarah Dickinson

      That’s a good point about the length and I think my longest so far was 9 hours. And I will definitely be coming to you with those recs!

  8. Athira

    These are all great subjects for audiobooks! Except for the last category, I’ve enjoyed everything else. For me, other categories that worked – medical and health nonfiction (Emperor of All Maladies, anything by Michael Pollan), real-life adventures, and narrative history.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I love Michael Pollan! I’ve read some of his stuff long before audiobooks got big again, but will have to try some that I haven’t gotten too on audio.

  1. 10 Things – Girlxoxo.com

    […] 5 Types of Audiobooks that Converted a Reluctant Listener. I used to not get it when people would tell me they didn’t like audiobooks. What’s not to love? I can see it now but for me, I wouldn’t get near the amount of reading done that I do if it weren’t for audiobooks. […]

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