The audiobook review and recommendation thread 📚 🎧

I just finished my first audiobook without accompanying text, and was about to start looking for my next one, when I realized we don’t have a dedicated audiobook thread, so I’m making one.

This thread is for:

  • Asking for audiobook recommendations
  • Reviewing audiobooks in terms of difficulty, sound quality, voice acting, sound effects, and whatever else you find important.
  • Asking about audiobook availability
  • Celebrating your successes in listening to audiobooks, or lamenting your failures. It’s all part of the learning process.
  • Anything else audiobook-related you can think of, really :slight_smile:
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I’m currently looking for my next audiobook. I would like it to be:

  • available on Audible UK (I think it has the same Japanese books as US, but only a fraction of those on Audible JP) or audiobook.jp
  • be up to L34 or so in terms of difficulty
  • possibly not have a plot that hinges on noticing little details that would be easily missable - I’d be disappointed if I couldn’t follow a mystery properly for example because my comprehension is not good enough.
  • I prefer fewer sound effects and not very enthusiastic voice acting. For example the acting in かがみの孤城 got on my nerves, even though it’s objectively good.
  • Preferably not available in ebook form. I know that’s not very common though, so not already in my 積読 should be enough. I’ll try to resist getting the text version to double-check my understanding.

Looking at my audible wishlist, I have some specific questions.
@nikoru Q&A | L31 (learnnatively.com) has an audiobook. Since you’ve read it, would you say the vocabulary is mostly straightforward enough that listening with minimal lookups would suffice, or does it need careful reading and attention to detail?

@cat I’m also looking at タイムマシンに乗れないぼくたち | L32 (learnnatively.com). I don’t know if you listened to the audiobook or just read it, but do you think it would be doable, vocabulary wise? And I see you mention 癒し系. in your review. Does this mean I should probably stay clear? :sweat_smile:

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I’m simultaneously listening to the audiobooks for 優しい死神の飼い方 and 黒猫の小夜曲 | L30?? because they’re the type where although it’s a series, it’s largely self-contained. Honestly for story, 6/10? It’s totally ok. Kind of repetitive and predictable, but I mostly listen to them while cleaning the house or cooking so that’s fine. But the voice actor is fantastic, his range is great.

変な絵 meanwhile, I should not have picked up as an audiobook :upside_down_face: There is a lot of discussion of the drawings included with the book and I was listening to this one on walks so couldn’t check them. It really takes away a lot from what I assume is the ‘experience’ of the book.

If anyone is looking for an easy book, 殺した夫が帰ってきました was pretty easy and fun.

I could go on…I think I’ve finished more audiobooks this year than regular books :joy:

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I enjoyed that book a lot, it has some weirdos for sure, but it’s definitely on the ‘heart warming’ side of things. It has a lot of elements I’d associate with 嫌いなら呼ぶな or even おいしいごはん, but instead of leaning into dark humor it instead shifts towards light humor and warmth, if that makes sense?

I don’t remember it having many sound effects and such. For vocab…it’s been a moment since I read it, but it probably depends on the story :thinking: There is one which has a lot of museum stuff, and another chapter which is a little sci-fi-y…I don’t recall anything super detailed where you needed to follow it all, though, and it wasn’t packed with slang like 嫌いなら呼ぶな was.

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Does anyone have any good rule of thumb for what level you should aim to listen for reasonable (whatever that means) comprehension of a book you haven’t read before, given you primarily only read?

Kind of a convoluted question, but basically I would like to work on my listening, and audiobooks seem like the best bang for my buck. I’ll typically read in the low to mid 30s, but it seems like a bad idea to jump straight to those levels audiobook-wise, so I’m looking for any advice on what I could use as a rule of thumb when picking an audiobook to listen to.

I also wishlisted this; thank goodness it’s available on audiobook.jp.

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Level only kind of matters, look more at the type of vocabulary likely to be present in the book. I can go high in crime/medical books, but anything with lots of slang is going to trip me up more even if it’s a lower level. Honestly I don’t find grammar to be a limiting factor for me for most books, but take that with a huge grain of salt given how long I’ve been studying + how much I listen to.

Listen to samples and see if you can follow the whole sample - if you can’t, that’s not your book. If there is an ebook, you can check a preview as well if you’re worried about vocab spread.

I kinda just bought whatever seemed appealing to me, and if it was too hard at the time I figured I’d get to it eventually :sweat_smile:

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Ah, now there’s something I always forget to check. Thank you for all the good advice!

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Oh! I forgot a thing that also helps bump up listening skills!

If you have a story you don’t remind ‘rereading’, listen to the audiobook after you’ve read the book. I’ve relistened to several books because I tend to not be focusing hard (see: out for walks, cooking, cleaning) and the story being a repeat doesn’t matter to me so much then.

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Could anyone speak to these books, and how difficult they may be as listens based on vocab/grammar/narrator quality? I’ve had audiobooks of them for a while in hopes of one day listening to them, but I don’t actually know what kind of difficulty I’ve signed up for, haha.

Edit: well, these are not rendering at all… Let me put in hardcoded links…

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Ugh, and as soon as I type that edit they’re fine. I’m not touching the post just in case. @.@

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I read this along with the text, so I’m probably not well qualified to comment on difficulty. There were many names you needed to keep track of, but the voices are characteristic enough to make this easy. There’s also a lot of detailed description of the building, with accompanying sketches which you would need to refer to to understand what they’re talking about. And some other technical and medical vocabulary here and there. My suspicion is that it would feel initially hard, but get easier and easier as it goes on.

(Oh, there’s a mumbling middle-aged man and a screaming lady - I found these two harder to understand than the rest. Although I think it depends on what version you have. Audible and Audiobook versions are different if I remember correctly.)

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Sounds like a red flag to me more than anything; I’m not great at visualizing specific areas/buildings sans picture if the text really goes into detail. :thinking:

Interesting; I wonder how common that is? I have the Audible version, for what it’s worth.

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I have the Audiobook version. Not sure how common it is for a book to have different versions, but I’ve come across other cases.

So everything I said about the voices shouldn’t affect you since you have a different version, but the text is of course the same. The diagrams (which should be included with the audiobook, they were with mine at least) really help you visualize the tower’s architecture well enough without relying too much on the text.

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How does that work? Are the diagrams a separate PDF download or something?

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In Audiobook.jp you download the sound files, and you also get a choice of downloading any extra documents, yes. Not sure how Audible does it to be honest.

image

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You can download it from your computer, but if it’s accessible on the mobile app I haven’t found it.

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The book started out as a pretty slow read for me for some reason, no real idea why… but after about 1/4 or even less, it sped up a lot and became quite easy for me to read. Of course, it has some vocabulary that is specific to the setting, but it’s not crazy all over the place iirc. There were some specific twists that I found a bit difficult to grasp even when reading, so it’s not the fault of you listening instead of reading if you bump into the same issues. And, as always, it helped to write down the names and get the relationships straight. Now this might sound a bit dramatic but I think it only applied to two or three scenes, really.
Also, you could set up a discussion thread! :grin: I’d love to talk about the book with you or anybody else, and I could help clarify issues (if I still remember them…) :upside_down_face:

I’m really confused whenever I see somebody mention this. In my mind there is a very clear distinction between an audio book (= just read by one person, acting with different voices) and an audio drama (= different people, sound effects). In Japanese books this does not seem to apply, though? :thinking:

I haven’t really listened to audiobooks much, but I sometimes read without dictionary and without lookups, and while I read with lookups in the ~35 range without real issues, I fall back to ~28 or so for no-lookup books. I’d assume that level gap might be similar for audiobooks.

@eefara also if you happen to know whether the book uses wildly different scenarios, that might add to the difficulty - e.g. I tried to listen to The Neverending Story (in Japanese ofc) (which is set in our world as well as in a fantasy world) and as long as it was our world, everything was nice and shiny, with me understanding probably 90%, but as soon as it shifted to the fantasy world, that dropped to 50% or less :cold_sweat:

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I’ve come across all kinds of variations on this, and as far as I know they’re all called audiobooks. I have zero experience with audio dramas, but I’d assume they get rid of the narration wherever possible and instead lean on dialogue and sound effects? Whereas the Japanese audiobooks I’ve listened to stay true to the original text, but often use different actors for different characters, and add background sound effects and music for extra atmosphere. The degree to which emotion is shown also varies. I get not keeping your voice completely flat, but I don’t need crying and shouting and moaning in my audiobooks, personally. :sweat_smile:

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I hate screaming in audiobooks :grimacing: Also knife / murder sound effects are just gross

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So turns out I’m an idiot who accidentally purchased an all-you-can-listen plan on Audiobook for a whole year, thinking I would be paying month-by-month and could cancel any time. Which means that for the next year, I’ll be apparently doing an intensive (and extensive) listening challenge. :sweat_smile:

These are the books I have lined up so far (in no particular order):

Any other recommendations welcome. I need to find a year’s worth of listening :joy:

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