📚 Reading and Audiobooks 🎧

I’m interested in hearing about if/how people use audiobooks to supplement their reading.

If there is an audiobook available for a book, how do you prefer to enjoy the title?
  • Reading the book (physical/ebook)
  • Listening to the audiobook
  • Reading and listening at the same time
  • No preference
  • Other (comment below)
0 voters

I like the idea of reading and listening simultaneously, but find it difficult to keep up with audiobooks. For easier books, such as graded readers, this isn’t much of a problem - I will usually listen to a chapter then go back and check anything I didn’t understand. For more difficult books, I’ve been using WorkAudioBook - Audio Player for Language Learners to listen sentence by sentence.

I can think of a few different methods of using the audiobook with the physical or digital book:

  • Reading and listening simultaneously
  • Reading and listening separately
  • Reading and listening separately, then together
  • Either reading or listening, then together

And when coming across difficult parts:

  • Pause and reread/relisten, or
  • Finish the paragraph/chapter and then return to the difficult parts

So I’d like to hear how other people use audiobooks, and, if you read and listen simultaneously, how you started doing so and if this has changed over time.

3 Likes

I voted ‘other’ as I completely read Nazotoki 2 before I started listening to the audiobook. I don’t know if I’d especially recommend this method or not - it’s better for testing general listening and getting the gist rather than learning specific words and understanding perfectly.

I was also curious where everyone gets their audiobooks - I use audible UK but there isn’t a lot of choice so far as I can tell!

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I use Audible JP (unlimited streaming, so much better than the UK version :grin:) and Google Play (not a great browsing experience, but often have the ebook and audiobook linked). I might try Storytel at some point, since they seem to support a wide range of languages.

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  • If the audiobook is easy enough, I listen to it without reading the book.
  • I sometimes listen to audiobooks after having read the book, usually because the narration is great
  • I might occasionally use the audiobook alongside reading the book if I am tired, the book is a tad too difficult [but I still want to finish it] or a book is dragging particularly badly

(I, too, have a sub to audible.jp)

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Pretty much the same as Biblio here. Though I mostly like pairing audio and text so I can speed it up and go fast.

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I’ve been trying to only use written materials with audio in German and French where we use (mostly) the same character set and are way more prone to picking up reading influenced accents. While this is less of an issue in Japanese (and my language level is way higher in Japanese), I’m still trying to audiobook+text when that’s an option for the same reason. It’s obviously not going to help much with manga, but if I like a series I do try and go back and watch the anime (raw or with j-subs, depending on the vocabulary and style of show).

For not being able to keep up with the reading speed, I usually just turn the audiobook speed down to where I can keep up in the text. Which does lead to some hilariously slow audiobooks sometimes, but I can usually keep up with about 0.85x-0.9x so it’s not too too bad.

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I tried reading+audio once but found out just wanting to read ahead and was annoyed how slow the audio was. I guess I could’ve sped it up, though, but somehow I didn’t feel right doing that to the audio.

Few times I’ve used the audiobook effectively to get out of a slump or finish a book I found a bit taxing to only read (too difficult etc.). Can also give more connection to the characters.

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If I like the voice of the person reading, reading and listening at the same time is the best (it especially helps fight my ADHD’s tendency to have my mind drift away and keeps me focused).

Otherwise, if I like the book and really want to know what happens next, I may use the audiobook while I’m walking/outside and the book when I am home/seated.

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I listen to most English audiobooks at 3x speed. (My brain can’t concentrate on normal speed.) Don’t feel bad. Narrators purposefully read slower than spoken language. (and definitely slower than most people read quietly)

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Yeah but you don’t probably read the text at the same time? I’d rather just read on my own pace without it at that point. I think audiobooks could be valuable practice with natural speed, but if I’m just speeding through it, I don’t think I’m absorbing as much.

3x?? Wow! Even at 1.5x I feel uncomfortable. Granted, I also read very slowly too… and have a narrator’s voice in my head.

You must get so much done :pleading_face:

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I don’t particularly enjoy listening to audiobooks in English - it’s been a few years since I last listened to one - but I do feel they’re unbearably slow. I have the same problem watching youtube videos in English; I usually watch them at 2x otherwise I get annoyed. :rofl:


So after reminding myself that Storytel existed, I ended up signing up and trying it out.

It’s a monthly “unlimited” subscription, so you can stream as much as you want. Unlike Audible JP, there doesn’t seem to be an option to buy titles individually. I didn’t have any problems with payment, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any regional restrictions.

As part of the sign-up process, you choose the language you want from the several they offer - I picked Korean, but I can also listen to English and Chinese audiobooks. In the settings, you can select which of these languages you want to be displayed (I’m only interested in Korean, but can select all three if I want).

I don’t know if they offer this if you choose another language - perhaps they always offer English titles alongside whichever language you choose, but it would be interesting to find out what other languages are paired up (I’m assuming if I had chosen Chinese, they’d have given me Korean, too).

Although you can browse their catalogue online, you can only listen using the app, which is a little annoying. They also offer ebooks, although not a huge amount (in Korean at least).

I’ve come across several titles I was planning on buying on Google Plus, so I’m happy about that (especially the Harry Potter books - the price for the Korean audiobooks on GP are shocking).

I’m liking it so far! :smiley:

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brain go brrrr

3x is for fiction only, though. (German can sometimes go up to 3.5x :rofl:) Non-fiction is usually around 1.8-2x tops. But yeah, while I do have an inner voice, I have always been a fast reader. :woman_shrugging:t2: I think everyone just has a natural speed at which their brain is comfortable processing speech and that’s kind of where you’ll end up with your reading speed, imo. Even with youtube, TV shows or movies, I usually speed them up, if it’s not Japanese. Otherwise for me it’s like swimming through a swamp. It feels just so slow and I find it difficult to keep engaged. Cinemas work to some extent but even there I sometimes feel my brain drift away. :sweat_smile: It has it’s perks but is also annoying, ngl.

You can see when I started with audiobooks (2014) and also when I was struggling mentally. :see_no_evil: 2021 was an experiment which I do not recommend. :skull: 2022 is when I really started reading Japanese, so my average went down a bit. This year is a bit of a weird year, because I am not trying to read a lot, it just happens. :face_in_clouds:

not in English or German, no. And in Japanese I don’t speed up. I am not there yet. :face_holding_back_tears: don’t ask me how slow this feels to me. :see_no_evil:

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I can’t really get into audiobooks. I get distracted too easily and I found (at least for English books) the narration for the handful of audiobooks I’ve sampled to be monotone and/or awkward. Maybe I just haven’t tried the right ones.

The only audiobook I actually listened to in full was かがみの孤城 (Kagami no Kojou) in Japanese because every character is voiced by a different voice actor and overall it felt like it added something over the text-only book.

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While no one has to read audiobooks, if you would like to start enjoying them, here are some things that I have found to be true for me:

a.) I need to finde the perfect speed for every audiobook. While 3x is common, it’s not set in stone.
b.) doing something besides listening (running, commuting, housework, …) is vital
c.) not every genre works for audiobook for me. [I struggle, for example, with high fantasy or hard sci-fi as an audiobook. Same with non-fiction with lots of numbers etc., narrative non-fiction (memoirs, etc.) works extremely well, though]
d.) not every narrator works for me

but if you like full cast audiobooks, those exist in English too. :+1:t2:

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I tend to be unable to read and listen at the sane time, I end up focusing on listening then forget where I am or I just blank both completely and space out :sweat_smile: so I tend to use audiobooks when I’m doing other stuff and use them to passively listen, or I read the story first, then listen separately then maybe I’ll read it a second time. There are a few books I have listened to multiple times purely for exposure to the language, especially some of the short story books.

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Welp, those are pretty much 95% of my English books read, so at least I’m not the only one struggling with their audiobook version. I’m really keen about catching every detail so usually my concentration drifts a bit and then I need to go back, which makes it a bit annoying. Maybe I need to try raising the speed to concentrate better like you said… Sometimes you just want to savour the content, though. Being super-efficient could lessen enjoyment as well. Can happen if just reading too fast, too.

I have really fond memories of listening to Ready Player One, though. Read by Will Wheaton.

1 Like

I am not going for efficient, though. Speed-reading is a whole different game. But yeah, with detail heavy books where those details are important to the story (such as the world-building in high fantasy or the tech stuff in hard scifi), physically reading is easier. If something confuses me, I can easily go back a paragraph or even a different chapter, if I remember something had been mentioned before, etc. with audiobooks that’s basically not possible.

but for low-effort (and I don’t mean this in a bad way) stuff like Ready Player One, audiobooks can be great, imo :slight_smile:

3 Likes