What You’ll Need If You’re Listening to Your First Audiobook

A.J. O'Connell

Staff Writer

A.J. O’Connell is the author of two published novellas: Beware the Hawk and The Eagle & The Arrow. All she’s ever wanted to do in life is read and write books, and so, is constantly writing at least one novel. She holds an MFA in creative fiction, but despite the best efforts of her teachers at Fairfield University's low-residency program, remains a huge dork for sci-fi, fantasy and comic books. She is a journalist and has taught journalism to college students. She blogs about feminism, the writing life, and whatever else comes into her head at Blog: A.J. O'Connell Twitter: @ann_oconnell

I’m listening to my first audiobook this week.

I’ve never really been into the idea of listening to a book, so despite my friends and family raving about how great audiobooks are, and how I was missing out, I stuck to physical books and e-books.

Until Monday, when I really, really wanted a book, but the only edition the library had was the audiobook. So I gave in, signed in to Overdrive, and checked it out.

Friends: my life changed. My house is clean. Our household paperwork has been organized. My dog is better behaved. I’ve been exercising daily. I lost a whole pound.*

I didn’t expect any of this and I want you, other people who haven’t tried audiobooks, to go into your first audiobook experience prepared.

Here’s a list of some things you may need before you press “play”:

A device: Your phone, an Mp3 player, your tablet. (Or your Walkman, if you’re stubbornly retro.)

An app: Overdrive or Audible or LibriVox.

A friend who knows audiobooks: No reader is an island. Were it not for my fellow Book Riot contributors, I would not know that Audible is the recommended app for beginners, nor would I know that Amazon can sync your place in an audiobook with the same place in an e-book, across devices.

Headphones: Basic courtesy, guys. Just because you can’t wait to listen to a book about killer plants from outer space does not mean your family or roommates want to hear it.

An awareness of where the 30 Seconds Back button is: Because you will zone out, or have to catch the bus, or someone will interrupt you on the street and want to have a conversation right when the naïve young FBI agent is meeting the charming serial killer for the first time, and come on, people can’t you see I’m reading here?

A full tank of gas: Because you might take the extra-extra-long shortcut on your way home from work, just to get to the end of your chapter.

Comfortable walking shoes: For city dwellers that walk to work, these are a must, because you might walk a few extra miles while listening to your book.

Activewear: Don’t walk to work? You might find yourself — as I did — heading out for regular walks with your dog, or jumping on the treadmill, or going for a run, because you can’t wait to find out what happens when the scientists finally get to the tower, and hey, you’ve been meaning to exercise since New Years, anyhow.

Extra vacuum bags: Vacuuming is the perfect time to listen to your audiobook because, let’s be honest, it’s not like you were going to be talking to anyone while you were vacuuming anyway.

A list of other chores: Folding the laundry, clipping coupons, dusting, raking, mowing, any of the repetitive, mind-numbing tasks you normally avoid at work: all of these are things that will keep you busy while you audiobook.

Your holiday shopping list: You can go online and buy that sweater for Mom while you listen to you audiobook. In fact, you can get out some needles and knit her one. After that, you may as well address all those holiday cards.

Another audiobook, or better yet, a series: Because this one will eventually come to an end, and look at how productive you’ve been! You wouldn’t want that streak to end, would you?

* Disclaimer: I am not saying that audiobooks are a guaranteed way to lose weight, improve your pets’ behavior, or get a clean house. As with everything, your mileage may vary. Audiobook responsibly.