Find a narrator you like. There is nothing worse than sitting through six or more hours listening to someone’s voice who grates on your nerves. A good narrator can make a mediocre story phenomenal, and a bad narrator can take a completely awesome novel and make it pure torture.
The type of novel you select depends on what you will be doing while listening. For me, because I listen at work or in the car, I need novels that do not require 100 percent of my attention, that keep me engrossed and engaged even while I am crunching numbers or driving. I want to be able to switch my attention between tasks without missing key portions of a story. Therefore, I tend to select either extremely long novels, like Middlesex or the Outlander series, because the descriptions can be listened to with half an ear, or detective stories that keep me entertained from start to finish, like the Harry Dresden series.
Did I mention I listen at work? It is my absolute favorite place to enjoy an audiobook. I crunch numbers all day long, and I find that I can listen and do that at the same time. If I am writing or need to concentrate on the decision being made, I hit pause and work through whatever it is that requires my undivided attention and then hit play to continue with the story. It makes the work day flow so quickly and smoothly, and I find I just enjoy the day more if I have been able to listen to an audiobook for at least an hour a day.
I also love to listen while driving. It is better than music because it is not as distracting and not as easy to tune out. When you are still not 100 percent awake in the morning, an audiobook is the best way I’ve found to help me stay alert on the road. Long car trips also pass by quickly when listening. A four-hour drive to Detroit last fall seemed like a mere hour because I was so engrossed in my current audiobook.
Those are my helpful hints. I am picky about what I select via audio – nothing that requires me to figure out the plot or requires deep thoughts for comprehension (in other words, no literary fiction). I tend to go for the lighter, fluffier novels in which the plot is essentially handed to you on a platter, but then again, I also listen with only half my concentration. I refuse to listen to anything that bothers me, whether it is a narrator’s tonality, inhalation, or even the way s/he forms words. I consider all audiobooks bonus books and am much more forgiving about what I quit and what I finish because I listen when I would never be reading anyway. When they are purely for fun, and you’ve done your homework and selected an audiobook that meets your criteria, the experience is amazing.