How to Fit Audiobooks Into Your Life (and 5 Recommended Titles)

audiobooks, book recommendations, fiction, nonfiction, reading list, reading tips, young adult | 15 comments

Written by: Janssen Bradshaw of Everyday Reading

I get asked frequently how I find time to read, especially as a mother to small children.

One of my biggest secrets is audiobooks.

I check out books on CD from my local library or download titles from my library’s digital book collection directly to my computer, phone, or iPod (most libraries have online collections that include audiobooks).

Of course, once you have your books ready to go, you need to find some time to listen. Here are a few of my tricks for fitting in some listening:

  • Always have an audiobook in the car. When I was commuting thirty miles each way to work a couple of years ago, I was blazing through books, but even now that my driving mostly consists of going to the grocery store and to Target, I’m amazed by how much ten minutes here and there adds up. And when I do have a bit of a longer drive, I’m thrilled that I can fit in more of my latest listen.
  • Use audiobooks to make chores more interesting. My husband can always tell when I’m listening to something great because our house is suddenly MUCH cleaner than normal. I find myself looking for mindless chores to do (like scrubbing the toilets or folding laundry or organizing the fridge) just so I can listen some more. I also like to listen while I cook.
  • Listen while you exercise. No commercials (unlike the televisions at the gym) and even if you’re exercising outdoors, you can still get in some entertainment.
  • Try listening on double speed. My iPhone and my iPod both have the option of listening to audio at double speed. It took me about ten minutes to get used to it with the first book I listened to at a faster pace, but now when I listen to something at regular speed, it sounds like the person is talking in slow-motion. I can get through twice as much in the same amount of time and I don’t even notice the difference anymore.

And if you’re anxious to get started listening to something right away, here are a couple of titles I’ve really loved the audio versions of:


  1. Still Alice by Lisa Genova – Alice is a well-respected Harvard professor, happily married, and a mother of three adult children – everything seems to be pretty perfect. But then she is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. Watching her first wrestle with denial and then eventually lose more and more of her abilities is both heart-breaking and absolutely gripping.  Fair warning that you will almost certainly develop a paranoia that you have early-onset Alzheimer’s while you read it.
  2. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – This is historical fiction at its best. Set during WWII, this follows two girls working for the British air force, one of whom is a spy. When she’s caught by the Gestapo, she begins revealing her story, including her work for the Allied forces, her friendship with Maddie, and her fears about what the Gestapo will do to her when she’s run out of information to share. The story and writing is unbelievably good, and the audio is just as strong as the book itself, bringing the characters, the war, and the intensity of the whole situation to vivid life.
  3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman – This YA book is one I read in print first, and then loved so much I went back and listened to it. It follows Mia after a horrific car accident that changes the course of her life and calls into question all the plans she’s had for her future. It will almost certainly make you cry – I recommend you don’t listen to it in public. I made the mistake of listening to it while sitting in an airport terminal.
  4. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell – I love Malcolm Gladwell and his books read more like novels to me than non-fiction. This one, about people who have achieved outstanding things, discusses what the common factors of these people are, ranging from ice hockey players to the Beatles. You’ll probably find yourself repeating the stories in this book to everyone you know (or maybe that’s just me!).
  5. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare – If you’re looking for something that’s just plain fun, this is one that had me laughing out loud in the car (and then listening to the subsequent books in the series). When Clary’s mother goes missing, she discovers that an entire underworld of vampires, demons, and Shadowhunters exists and that she’s somehow connected to this mysterious world. (Bonus! The movie is coming out in August).

Any audiobooks you’ve really enjoyed? I’d love more recommendations!


About the Author:

Janssen is a former school librarian and avid reader who is always maxing out her library card. She now stays at home with her two small daughters and blogs about books for readers of all ages, her favorite recipes, and parenting adventures at Everyday Reading.

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  • 1
    Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie - January 08, 2013 @ 7:55 am

    My parents love listening to audio books on long drives. For example, when we drove from TN to NY for Christmas last month!


  • 2
    Kathy - Panini Happy - January 08, 2013 @ 8:15 am

    Thanks for the great ideas, Janssen! You’re right, I should try listening to audiobooks at the gym – that’s definitely one point in the day when I need a good distraction. I enjoyed Gabrielle Hamilton’s “Blood, Butter and Bones” memoir on 3 trips up and back to LA from San Diego – that’s the only audiobook I’ve ever listened to. More in 2013!


  • 3
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - January 08, 2013 @ 9:29 am

    I love listening to audiobooks. I really liked The Night Circus, which was what I read most recently. I really recommend it!


  • 4
    Allison - January 08, 2013 @ 9:42 am

    This is a timely post because I just made a New Year’s resolution to listen to more audiobooks. My problem is that I love to read and so sometimes I put aside things I NEED to be doing because I WANT to read a book. I figure audiobooks will help me be more effective without having to sacrifice my favorite hobby. I have never listened to an audio book all the way through, but I am starting with Gone Girl this month. So far so good! Thanks for the great selection of titles to check out next!


  • 5
    Abby - January 08, 2013 @ 10:45 am

    I am listening to Gone Girl now and loving it. Just finished Beautiful Ruins. Bossypants is a great listen because it is narrated by Tina Fey. I enjoyed Rules of Civility last year. Enjoy!


  • 6
    Erin @ Texanerin Baking - January 08, 2013 @ 10:47 am

    My husband listens to audio books (or podcasts) almost the entire time he’s awake and I have to say, it’s extremely annoying. :) He also does that double speed thing! He does it with everything, including TV shows and movies. “But I can watch twice as much!” It drives me crazy. If I showed him your tips, I’m sure he’d be on the floor in a fit of laughter, saying that he’s a pro audiobook listener. ;)

    So, in conclusion, audiobooks are super until you drive your spouse crazy with excessive listening. :)


  • 7
    Katie Goodman
    Katie - January 08, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

    I confess, I have never listened to an audio book. Cleaning is so boring that I think I am going to give your suggestion of reading while doing chores a try. My only worry is that I will think of excuses to clean so I can listen to my book instead of doing real work!


  • 8
    Sara - January 08, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

    I love audio books! I like to check out the CDs from the library and transfer them to my iPod. I listen to them at the gym, on car trips, etc.

    They’re awesome for the gym because I don’t think about how much time is left on the machine, but rather enjoy the story!

    I just downloaded Gone Girl for a trip out to Colorado.


  • 9
    megan @ whatmegansmaking - January 09, 2013 @ 5:20 am

    I love listening to audio books and do it all the time – in the car, while I’m cleaning, while I’m walking/running, etc. Such a fun way to make a boring task more interesting :)


  • 10
    Margaret - January 11, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

    Wow..listening at double speed? I have never heard that tips before and OMG am I excited. Luckily I have an ipod and have set it for faster listening. I go through tons of audiobooks and have always wished I could get through them faster. I just started listening this way. And you’re so right..only took me a short little while and now I’m flying through the books. Amazing tip…thanks soooo much! :D


  • 11
    Casey - January 12, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

    I just started listening to audiobooks the past year and love it. We’ve been listening to Hank the Cow Dog in the car when taking long trips with the kids and I had decided that I might check out some adult books for myself. I’m not normally a huge Stephen King fan but I really enjoyed 11-22-63 and Ken Follet’s Fall of Giants.


    • Janssen replied: — January 14th, 2013 @ 8:02 PM

      We loved the Hank the Cowdog books when I was a kid and listened to many of them on car trips too!

  • 12
    Anna - January 13, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

    I am currently reading City of Bones and really enjoying it, although I am reading the text version… Another book you may like that also comes in an audio version is Daughter of Smoke and Bone, it is excellent!


    • Janssen replied: — January 14th, 2013 @ 8:03 PM

      I’m actually listening to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone sequel (Days of Blood and Starlight) and really enjoying it.

  • 13
    Jessica - March 14, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

    Audiobooks are great for driving and chores. J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series are excellent as audiobooks. The narrator is amazing and the stories are entertaining.


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