All About Audiobooks: Tips, Favourites and Where To Find Them For Free

October 4, 2020

Last week I put up a post all about easy and practical ways to get reading more (you can find it here if you missed it) and one of the ways I mentioned was audiobooks. Now, although I specifically mentioned Audible, there are actually so many options when it comes to listening to audiobooks, so I thought I’d devote a whole post to my favourite ways that I listen to my reading list.

Audible Flat Share

There are dozens of apps and platforms that you can use to download audiobooks from but these are the few that I use most and recommend the most often.

The most popular audiobook service is probably the Audible subscription program. You sign up and for $16.45 per month you can get one book (and purchase additional extra ones too). I love the app, it’s easy to find just about any book, and new releases are always there straightaway. However, I find it an expensive option, it feels pricey for just an audio file when I don’t even get a physical book to show for it. Plus sometimes I have an especially busy month and don’t have the time for all that listening but the app automatically charges you and saves your monthly credits up for later usage. So for me, it’s a subscription service that I tend to sign up to for a few months at a time and then cancel while I work through the credits I’ve collected. On the plus side, they do offer a free 1-month trial to see if it’s something you enjoy which I highly recommend, even if you have no intention of ever keeping the subscription. Just make sure you cancel before your free 30 days are up and you even get to keep the free audiobook you chose.

Many national, state and local libraries now have online affiliations with apps like BorrowBox where you can download audiobooks (and apps like RB Digital, Bolinda, Kanopy and Overdrive where you can find e-books, digital magazines, and even movies and box sets) for free. Technically it’s part of your library membership, but as most libraries are free to join, it’s a great way to score free audiobooks too. Plus, no late fees!

You can start by signing up to your local library and see what apps they are affiliated with and see what they have on offer.

BorrowBox App

Most people who are familiar with Spotify know it for holding music playlists but did you know that Spotify also has a range of audiobooks? A good option if you already pay for a Spotify subscription, or just as useful if you’re signed up to the free app version.

It’s definitely not my favourite audiobook app in terms of usability, it’s designed for music, not books, but there is a decent catalogue of classics if you’ve always wanted to read titles like Little Women, The Secret Garden or the not-so-classic but still best-selling Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, then this could be for you.

Harry Potter book playing on the Spotify app

So now you know where to find your audiobooks, here’s a few tips and tricks on how to get the most of your picks.

  • Always listen to the sample. Some narrators will have voices that you absolutely love, and others won’t. Maybe I’m too fussy, but for me, it doesn’t matter how great the book is, if the voice reading it annoys me, then chances are I’m not sticking with it. Listening to the sample will give you a good idea of whether or not the book, and the narrator, are for you.

  • My favourite books to listen to are autobiographies that are narrated by the person they are about. It gives the book so much personality and depth and it makes a huge difference to how much I connect with the memoir. Open Book by Jessica Simpson, Becoming by Michelle Obama, and An Astronauts Guide to Life On Earth by Chris Hadfield were all on my listening list for this year.

  • If you find the book feels like it’s moving a bit slow for you, speed up the narration pace. It’s amazing what a difference a small increase in speed will make to your concentration. I loved Open Book by Jessica Simpson, but I listened to the whole book on 1.3x speed because I found the recital a little too slow for me and I was losing my concentration, even though it was a great book.

  • Invest in wireless headphones – or a hoodie with a pocket! Either way, having the option to make progress on a book while you walk around the house, do the washing, clean the bathroom, or prep dinner will mean you’ll fly through a book much faster than you ever would reading a physical copy. 

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