Like all good people, I love a free trial. I’ll sign up to any 30 day trial I can get my grubby paws on. I don’t even have to really want the free stuff, if it’s dangled in front of me I will sign up, hand over my card details and set myself three calendar reminders so that I can whiz in and cancel my account before a penny leaves the bank.
But with Audible, I decided to stick around. I signed up for the free book offer in November (the 30 day trial offer is still available and you can get pretty much any book to listen to for free) and while I assumed I’d just cancel at the end of the trial, I’m still very much loving the app six months later. I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve enjoyed listening to books but if you find the right narrator, it really is a treat.
Listening to a book does take a lot longer than reading a book, but I feel like I concentrate more when I listen. I give it my full attention and because the pacing is determined by the narrator, you don’t fall into that skim reading trap where your eyes are suddenly seven paragraphs down the page and somehow you haven’t actually read anything. You can “turn up the speed” on Audible if you feel like it’s being read too slowly but I haven’t felt the need to do that yet. I can see the appeal though, there have been books I haven’t downloaded because the sample sounded too uncomfortably s-l-o-o-o-o-o-w.
And I can’t stress enough how important the narrator is. You can listen to a free sample of every book before downloading and there are definitely some voices that I just can’t get on board with, similarly you’ll find others that can really bring a book to life. When you do find a narrator you like, you can search for other books they’ve narrated which is a nice feature and one I’ve used a couple of times. (I’m a bit in love with Lisa Coleman’s narration). If you can get a book read by the author then that’s great too. It was Alan Partridge’s Nomad, read in character by Steve Coogan, that got me hooked on Audible in the first place. (If you are getting a trial then GET THIS BOOK and prepare to have Kenco coming out of your nostrils).
It takes me bloody ages to finish a book, but I only listen in small bursts every day – usually when I’m in the kitchen or putting make-up on. If I had a commute I can’t imagine how many books I’d buy a month, but because I’ve never really raced through them I’ve found the £7.99 per month membership has been ideal: this entitles you to one ‘credit’ (or book, basically) per month and you can roll the credits over. I have bought a couple of extra £2.99 books off the back of Audible Daily Deals too. Then there’s also the ability to “return” books for a full refund if you didn’t enjoy them, I’ve never felt the need to try this out but apparently you can!
The app itself works really well and you can have lots of books on the go at the same time. It’s easy to re-wind, fast-forward, skip chapters, make notes (!), set a sleep timer, read reviews, listen to samples and add books to your wishlist. For some unexpectedly clunky reason you have to leave the app to buy books/exchange credits, but it’s not a bother really. Plus because it’s an Amazon company, if you use your Amazon account to join Audible then it pulls in really well tailored recommendations based on your paperback history. Pretty much every audiobook I’ve downloaded has been because of the suggestions on my personalised “Discover” page.
So far, my favourite listens have been…
Alan Partridge: Nomad
“The deeply personal follow-up to Alan Partridge’s deeply personal autobiography, I, Partridge, charting the highs, lows and mediums of his one-man walking tour around (certain parts of) Britain.”
I cried with laughter at various points during this book, at one point having to dive into a bus shelter as I was getting so many bizarre looks from people in the street. It’s the funniest book I’ve ever read/listened to. Ohhhhhhh Trishaaaaaa.
Get it here.
Kill Me Again by Rachel Abbott
“When Maggie Taylor accepts a new job in Manchester, she is sure it is the right move for her family. The children have settled well, although her husband, Duncan, doesn’t appear to be so convinced. But nothing prepares her for the shock of coming home from work one night to find that Duncan has disappeared, leaving their young children alone. His phone is dead, and she has no idea where he has gone or why. And then she discovers she’s not the only one looking for him.”
I bought this on a whim as part of a Daily Deal but I loved the pacing and I got myself properly scared at parts. It had great characters and it was really easy to dip in and out of which suited my listening style. I love the narrator too (I wish she read all the thrillers!) and the fact it’s set in Manchester. I wasn’t familiar with the author but have now downloaded “Stranger Child” which is in the same series.
Get it here.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
“For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us – people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they’re being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.
A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people’s faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.”
As someone who spends a disgusting amount of time on Twitter, I was familiar with most of the cases in this book and could remember a lot of the worst floggings from when they played out in real time. To hear in-depth interviews with “the shamed” was really fascinating and I love Jon’s take on it all. God knows what the future will hold if we continue to pick people apart the way we have been doing up til now.
Get it here.
Lost at Sea: The John Ronson Mysteries
“Jon Ronson has been on patrol with America’s real-life superheroes and to a UFO convention in the Nevada desert with Robbie Williams. He’s interviewed a robot and asked her if she has a soul. He’s travelled to the Alaskan theme town of North Pole (where every day is Christmas Day) to investigate a high school mass-murder plot. He’s met a man who tried to split the atom in his kitchen and another who’s preparing to welcome the aliens to earth.
Jon Ronson is fascinated by madness, strange behaviour and the human mind, and he has spent his life exploring mysterious events and meeting extraordinary people. Collected from various sources (including the Guardian and GQ) Lost at Sea features the very best of his adventures.”
More Jon Ronson (what can I say? I’m very much in love with his writing and even more so in love with his voice) and whilst I only started this book on holiday, I am a big fan so far. The chapters are completely stand alone – although with the common thread of eccentric individuals – and this makes it translate particularly well to audiobook as you can almost see each section as mini episodes.
Get it here.
Flight of the Conchords
“The complete BBC Radio 2 series from Perrier Award nominated duo Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. Flight of the Conchords are Bret McKenzie (guitar and vocals) and Jemaine Clement (vocals and guitar) and they are New Zealand’s fourth best folk guitar-based jazz, techno, hip-hop duo. Over six episodes we follow their attempts to crack the UK’s novelty music scene with songs such as Frodo, Don’t Wear The Ring (Magical Bling Bling), Fudafafa, Hiphopapotamus and Think About It (Think, Think About It).”
WHY isn’t Flight of the Conchords on Netflix or Sky Box Sets? Arghghg! Until someone does the decent thing and makes it available so I can re-watch endlessly, I’ll just listen to the radio version.
Get it here.
I know some people will think audiobooks are a waste of time when there are so many podcasts you can get for free, but I’ve never quite got on with podcasts. I don’t know what it is or if it’s just that I haven’t found the right ones, but Audible has certainly been able to fill a gap which I hadn’t been able to fill with Acast.
This post isn’t sponsored or endorsed by Audible/Amazon in any way, I’ve paid for all my books (well, except Nomad – GET NOMAD) but I do really recommend both the service itself and all the books I’ve mentioned above. I’ll do another post of recommendations when I’ve listened to a few more.
Hopefully next week I’ll be sharing some of my recent favourite ~ real paper ~ books so if that’s more your thing, look out for that!