How to choose an audiobook, according to a local librarian

No, it’s not cheating. Listening to an audiobook is just as worthy a pursuit as reading a print book, say librarians.

“In the library world, there is definitely the belief that you’re ‘reading’ when you’re listening to an audiobook,” says St. James Episcopal School librarian Catherine Word.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, 20% of Americans reported regularly listening to audiobooks in 2019, up from 11% in 2011. Audiobooks can be the salvation of commuters and busy people who listen while they exercise, work in the yard or do housework. They’re also helpful to struggling younger readers, who can benefit from listening to a book while reading it, Word says. If you’re new to audiobooks, Word advises a few tips.

Select a popular narrator

Fans of audiobooks are often as drawn to specific narrators as they are to particular authors. For example, Word says she loves to hear books read by Julia Whelan, who has narrated popular titles by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Gillian Flynn, Tara Westover and many other best-selling writers.

Try a memoir read by the author

Certain books lend themselves well to the audio format, especially modern memoirs read by the author. A good one to sample is actor Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights, Word says.

Gather suggestions from book blogs and websites

Bibliophile blogs and websites are great sources for audiobook recommendations. Word advises goodreads.com and modernmrsdarcy.com.

Listen for free through the East Baton Rouge Public Library

A library card gives you access to the free app Libby, which includes a large catalog of audiobooks available for checkout.

Give it time

If you think you’re not an audiobook person, let them grow on you. Word says it takes getting used to, but ultimately, it’s a great way to read more books than you would ordinarily.

This article was originally published in the October 2021 issue of 225 magazine.

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