How To Become An Audiobook Pro

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Maybe you have heard, but I love audiobooks. If you have not, you are hearing it right now.

It wasn’t a slow burn kind of love, it was more of a I am going to lose my mind at this job, I need to do something about it, kind of love. Maybe I am being a little dramatic, but I am sure audiobooks saved my sanity on many occasions. In the years of working a job I hated, audiobooks gave me something to enjoy throughout the day and a perfectly good excuse to not hear people.

With that, I want to share my love of audiobooks with you, because I’m nice like that. To make that love useful, I am expressing it as a list of ideas to help you enjoy audiobooks too. I’ll even throw in some recommendations at the end too!

So, let’s get started because I fear this might go on from now until the end of time!

How to become an audiobook pro!

Simple, pop some headphones in your ears and listen away.

I kid. There is more to it than that. There are plenty of occasions when listening to audiobooks will just not work and other times when it will. I have plenty of tips to help you there!

Tip #1: When and where to listen. 

The first thing with audiobooks is finding time to listen. I used to listen at work, since most of my work day involved doing things with my hands and not my mind, my brain was then free to listen to a book.

For me, the key is doing it on an empty brain, those times where you do not need you to think all that much. I do not recommend trying to listen when you also have to ponder other things, otherwise you will miss parts of the book. For me, at least, I cannot listen when there are other words floating around my brain.

These are my favourite times to listen to an audiobook:

  • Chores. I always listen when I am cleaning, except when I vacuum because I can’t hear it over it, but washing up, sorting the washing, general cleaning and tidying, these are all good audiobook opportunities. Since most of us do a few chores each day, you have something that will consistently allow you to listen, so you can work through the book.
  • Editing photos. Since I am sat at my computer I might as well listen to a book. Occasionally, I have to pause it when I am concentrating too much, but that is usually when I am doing something in Photoshop. If it is just some basic edits and cropping, I can listen to quite a bit.
  • Cooking. Why not. You have to stand around by the cooker and watch pots boil anyway.
  • In bed. I always fall asleep and have to go back a little the next day, but I do enjoy listening before bed. This is made easier by using the sleep timer on whatever app you use to listen with.
  • Train journeys. Not always as I will often take a book too, but if my eyes are tired then I will listen to a book rather than read.

I used to listen when I walked places, but I find that it makes me more uncomfortable when I am out by myself since I cannot hear everything that is going on. So I do not do that any more. But it is still another good option for a time to listen. I would also listen to my book when we were running too.

It is also fun to listen whilst doing a little of that adult colouring too if you are into that.

I also hear audiobooking and driving are a good combination.

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Tip #2: Staying interested.

The most common response I hear after mentioning audiobooks is something along the lines of how do I concentrate on the book and not drift off. 

I get it. And sometimes my mind does wander off and I have to rewind the book a little, but for the most part, it happens very rarely.

Here is a few ways I stay interested in my audiobook: 

  • Picking the right time. You want a quiet brain (unless you have mad multitasking skills going on in your noggin), you are looking for times with busy hand and bored brain cells.
  • Use headphones. I find it a lot easier to listen with headphones than without. I can get into my audiobook zone and just listen without being disturbed by outside noises.
  • Shorter books. I look at short audiobooks like this: the shorter the story, the quicker it will move along, the easier it is for me to stay interested because the story is moving forward all the time. It also takes less listening time, so if I only have half an hour a day to listen I still feel like I am working through the book at a reasonable pace. For me, I consider a short audiobook to be around 10 hours of listening time, that’s about 300 pages.
  • Increase the read speed. These days I will listen to an audiobook at 2x or 2.5x speed, which makes a huge difference to the listening time (it works in the same way as listening to short books does). It definitely took some practice to get used to the faster speech but once I got into it, it was really easy. It is impossible for my to listen below 2x speed these days because it is just so slow. I think headphones make a huge difference here, I get into my audiobook zone and it feels like my brain slows down the speech itself (which sounds weird, but it really does) when I start listening. It’s weird to explain, but it is easy to listen at the higher speeds when you get used to it. Also, there’s no chipmunk-ing with the voice!
  • Simpler books. Or rather: embrace the Young Adult or even Middle Grade. I love listening to YA on audio just because, in general, they are simpler books. Simpler writing, simpler storylines, they do not need too much effort to keep up with and make for easy listening.
  • Pick what you will enjoy. I like to stick to what I know (unless the book is going cheap, or free) and tend to pick fantasy books since that it my favourite genre. That way, I can usually guarantee the book will be interesting from the get go. Also, go for fun! I do not often choose audiobooks that are heavy on those life-lessons, or topics that are too nitty-gritty, I like to go for something that is full of action and fun. I like my ears to smile when I am doing the washing up. Whatever your jam, go for what you enjoy the most.

Something that I occasionally think about when choosing an audiobook, is how many points of view the book might have. If the POVs are not distinct enough, it could be difficult to distinguish them in audio format, it is not so easy to just flip back to the beginning of the chapter to remind yourself which character it is. I have no had too much problem with this so far, but I am sure it will crop up eventually.

I do avoid audiobooks of books that have mixed multimedia in them. I just do not think that will work so well on audio, but, I could be mistake since I have never given it a go before. I should try it out just to see, but I think I would rather read the physical book in this case.

I’ve yet to listen to a short story collection on audio, but I think these would also be a great way to stay interested. They probably feel the most similar to podcasts.

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That photo brings nothing to this blog post, except to break up this wall of text. At least the first one was a fairly accurate portrayal of what I might do, albeit, with more snacks. Also, do not laugh at my terrible colouring skills, that’s the best I have. 

Recommendations

I haven’t listened to hundreds of audiobooks, but I feel like I have listened to enough that I might be able to recommend some to get you started.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

This is a beast of an audiobook (which makes it a great bargain if you exchange it for a credit on Audible) but it is all short stories so it is great for picking up and putting down again if you only have small amounts of time to listen. I listened to this in between other audiobooks, picking it up when I finished a book, or in the middle for a few hours and then putting it down again. It’s a 50hr audiobook, but it’s absolutely worth it, especially if you listen to it at an increased speed as well.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach 

This might not be for everyone, but I thought it was a really interesting listen. It is short, it has a wonderful sarcastic humorous style and it is non-fiction so you are learning something too. Win, win.

The Humans by Matt Haig

Short and funny. Just what I like in an audiobook. It was just a lot of fun and who does not enjoy chuckling out loud to something no one else can hear. Definitely recommend.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This book is a great option if you are looking for something light to read, after all, it is a children’s book. It is easily one of my favourite audiobooks and I definitely recommend it for something that is easy on the ears. It is probably the only classic I have ever really enjoyed.

Career of Evil (Cormoron Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith 

I can only recommend the third book in this series on audio, as I read the first two books in physical format.

I feel like this book series suits audio so much more than being physically read. In my opinion, these books are incredibly slow and as a slow reader, I usually cannot progress fast enough through a slow book to make it enjoyable. This is where the audiobook comes in, the story moves along a lot faster at 2.5x speed than I could ever read and, turns out, it is actually quite good.

I don’t know if I could say the same for the first and second books, I was not all that keen on those, but I definitely enjoyed the third. So, I’ll recommend it, even though it is not my favourite, I still think it makes a good audiobook.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 

These are great little audiobooks. The books are short, the writing is full of witty nuances and even for a series, it is not that big of a commitment (I think each audiobook was only about 6 hours long), these could be the books for you.

Phew, that is it, what a post! That is a lot of text. I hope it was of some use to at least one person though! Are audiobooks your thing? Do you have some recommendations for my next one? 

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Wonderful Wednesday #20 || The Puppy Edition

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Right now there is nothing more wonderful to me than that furry face.

As promised last week, this is the puppy edition of Wonderful Wednesday. It’s time to make some introductions!

Not-dog-people, it is probably time to leave.

Dog-people, meet Moxie. Moxie, meet the Internet.

So yeah, this is Moxie and the start of our next great adventure! Or to give her her full name: Borders Make My Day Partner Around The World, but that’s a bit of a mouthful and only reserved for special occasions.

This post is mostly just so I can cement this moment and ogle at puppy photos but it should probably have a bit of context too. After all, I probably kept this whole venture a bit too hush, hush and now it looks as though I did that dreaded thing of getting a puppy for Christmas. I assure you, we did not. Even if she was born just a few days shy of Christmas.

So, a little back story and then on to the photos.

Pets are not new to us, having both been around pets for our whole lives and also having pets ourselves in pre-Belgium times. We considered a cat when we first moved to Belgium and then decided a dog would probably suit us better. Since we didn’t have the time to dedicate to a dog, we opted for a Choppy instead. He’s still my number one man no matter how cute that puppy face is.

At the beginning of last year we knew my job would be coming to an end so we started thinking again whether we’d like to get a dog. With all the cycling and camping we like to do, it seemed like a good fit and some extra company.

From there I researched (“obsessively” if Kris was telling this tale) dogs, dog breeds, dogs and camping, dogs and cycling, dogs and travel, dog training. Pretty much dogs and whatever Google suggested as the relevant search term. I researched shelters in Belgium and I researched breeders as well. Our first thoughts were: energetic and medium-sized. From there we reached a Border Collie, or Border Collie-esque dog. Then came a lot of research about Border Collies and a lot of trawling forums to see what information was out there. In the end, it was a joint decision to get a Border Collie puppy from a breeder.

It took us a few months to find our breeder, and around August time we sent off some emails and got a chance to visit. A couple of weeks after that we even got to watch one of the Dog Frisbee workshops that our breeder and her friend puts on which we’ll be attending in March with Moxie. After that, we went on to the waiting list and kept our fingers crossed that we’d be offered a puppy.

On December 23rd the puppies were born and the next day we were offered one. And the rest, they say, is puppy visits every weekend for the next eight weeks and spending far too much time on the litters Facebook group looking at photos and videos to keep up with them throughout the week.

I think it is time for photos. That is far too much chatter. All in all, there was about a years worth of solid research and decision-making and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

On to all things wonderful and all things puppy.

The Gorgeous Parents

You can’t have puppies without them! Mummy Babz and Daddy Chubby.

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New Born Puppies

Be still my heart, aren’t they just amazing little beings. Also, much to everyone’s surprise it was an even split of 3 black and 3 red, and all girls!

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Moxie’s First Week Of Life

Where she just flopped about, drank a lot of milk and then went to sleep.

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Moxie’s Second Week Of Life

You see where this post is going, right? Save yourself whilst you still can.

Week two, was more sleeping, slurping and our first introductions! Although, at this point we did not actually know that Moxie was Moxie. She was just simply “Yellow” for the time being. She became Moxie at 6 weeks.

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Moxie’s Third Week Of Life

At least I’m not filling this post with idle commentary.

Week three was the week where everyone started to get chubby, open their eyes and start playing. Week three was also the time when Grandma Sim stepped in to help out Mummy Babz.

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Moxie’s Fourth Week Of Life

At what point in this post am I just talking to myself? I don’t mind, this has to be recorded somewhere and this is a good a place as any.

Week four was all things playtime, food and napping.

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Moxie’s Fifth Week Of Life

Week five, that’s where we discovered that it is damn cold outside in January but actually a lot of fun. Oh and napping. There is always napping.

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Moxie’s Sixth Week Of Life

I think I am taking this too far. Or maybe I haven’t taken it far enough. If anything, it has reminded my how to spell “fourth” again.

Week six was all about getting to know the world some more, lots of playtime, working on her leash skills for the big garden centre visit and officially being crowned “Moxie”.

It wasn’t until this week that it was revealed which puppies were going to which owners. A little surprise based on our preference (which was a rather laid back “a black and white one please”) and which puppy our breeder thought would be the best fit. We had faith in her decision and could not be happier with our Yellow girl.

Week six also has some of my favourite photos too.

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Moxie’s Seventh Week Of Life

Officially too far. But, that face. That. Face.

Week seven was all about photo shoots, the big garden centre visit, more playtime and our first family photo and the mad rush to get the house ready to bring our girl home.

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And that’s it. I regret nothing. That is my girl and I am in love. Now, I just need to figure out how to incorporate, what I predict to be, an excessive amount of dog photos into this blog, because I don’t want to miss a single day of this girl. 

Don’t forget to check out all the other Wonderful Wednesday-ers starting with the inspiration Sally, and then the rest of us ragged bunch:  Kate, Helen, Jo, Cat, Michelle, EmmaSamLauraPetaSarah, JasminEleanor, Mimmi, Isabelle, Martina, Lynsey & another Sarah!

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Books I DNF-ed in 2016

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Back in August last year, I put together a post about books I had given up on – DNF-ed, if we are using the technical book-term – so far in 2016. My plan was to write another post when I got to ten DNF-ed books, but that never happened; I seem to have got a bit more savvy with my book choices as the year went on.

However, I still DNF-ed another four books after that post and thought it would be fun to share them again.

I do not mind putting a book down, I never feel like I must finish a book just because I started it. After all, there are so many books to enjoy, there is no point spending time on one that you don’t like. Time is precious and should not be spent on books that make you groan every time you think about reading them. Unless the joy of finishing a book outweighs the pain of reading it, then maybe it is worth the time and effort but that rarely happens for me.

I’m not sure I admire people who refuse to give up on a book, sometimes I wonder what you can get out of something that you just do not enjoy but put hours into completing. Not enough wondering to make me more persistent with finishing books, though. I will leave that to the more dedicated readers out there.

Now, let’s get complaining!

Books I DNF-ed In 2016

In case you missed the previous post, and to save you having to go back and look, I will include those books here as well as a quick recap of why I gave up on them. For my in-depth complaints, you are welcome to check out the first post.

The first five books are the ones I have already wrote about. These were at the beginning of the year when I was trying to work out which books tickled my fancy and which ones did not. These books, most definitely, did not tickle my fancy.

Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

Reason for DNF-ing: Excessive mentioning of Facebook and other social media, a main protagonist that was unbearable and I just did not really understand what was going on.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip Dick

Reason for DNF-ing: Turned out to be an abridged version of the book and it was just plain boring. Did include talk of pet-robots which was mildly interesting.

Death of a River Guide by Richard Flanagan

Reason for DNF-ing: Read a previous book that I did not like by the same author, thought I would try another book. A mistake, this was one big snore fest and absolutely not my type of book.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Reason for DNF-ing: Unable to work out if characters were mugging people or buying a magazine. Just nope. Even if it is only 100 pages.

Umbrella by Will Self

Reason for DNF-ing: Book narrator had the most annoying voice and everything else about the book was awful too.

Now, onto the books that I didn’t mention last time! 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

I cannot remember if I picked this up in the Audible daily deal or on one of their offers, but it has been in my Audible library for ages, it was about time I gave it a listen. Well, I got a few chapters in and that was that. I enjoyed the beginning, reading Jonathan Harker’s journal entries, but then the perspective changed to letters between to female friends and I just lost all interest and gave up. This book falls in to the not for me side of my love/hate relationship with classics.

The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald

I had a feeling I wouldn’t like this before I started the audiobook, but since it was free and only five hours long, it couldn’t hurt to give it a go. I listened to about an hour and then gave up, too much social commentary and not enough story. Another classic for the I don’t like you pile.

The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien

I tried, I really did. I read The Fellowship of the Ring with great pain and thought I could power through the other two books to complete the series. I couldn’t, they are just too boring. I do not think a single part of the book went into my brain. I would look up from the page and lose my spot instantly, chances are I missed a paragraph or two as I would look down and start again at the wrong spot. Or I would just be sat there wondering if I really did just read 20 pages of a book where they did nothing but walk across a patch of land and be sad about it.

So yeah, I gave up, I did not even bother to finish the chapter I was on, just nope. Then I sold the series to someone else and made €6 of them.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

I could not get into this book, it was too slow and there was nothing to keep me interested. I did not mind the multiple perspectives, thought it was a bit difficult to distinguish them from each other, making it far too much hard work to keep up with every character and what was going on. If there was anything going on, I am not sure there was. I could not quite grasp the descriptions so even if there was something going on, I am not really sure I understood it anyway. So, back to the library this book went.

And that is a wrap. What was the last book you DNF-ed? Or are you someone who never DNFs a book? I’m curious, does the joy of completing the book outweigh the pain of reading it? 

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