Like many people, I tend to skim when I reach a less interesting part of a book. One of the benefits of audiobooks is that you hear all the words. I have worn out two paperback sets of The Lord of the Rings, yet when I listened to the unabridged audio recording, I “heard” much I never had before, particularly the beauty of Tolkien’s writing about nature. It can be like discovering a well-loved story all over again. You gain a new appreciation of language when you hear it rather than read it.

One of the interesting things about audiobooks is that a well-known story may be recorded by different people, which can make each narrative distinctive. For instance, The Lord of the Rings has been recorded by a BBC cast; Recorded Books has put out an unabridged edition read by Robert Ingles; and Tolkien himself has been recorded reading parts of the trilogy. The unique interpretations make certain parts dramatic, or touching. Ian Holmes’ (BBC) suffering and exhausted Frodo is very different from the stoic, quietly heroic Frodo of Robert Ingles.

One thing you quickly realize as you listen is that a narrator can make or break a story. I listened to a version of Journey to the Center of the Earth, with a narrator that totally removed both the dramatic tension and interest from the story. On the other hand, David Case does such an amazing reading of The Count of Monte Cristo, that after borrowing it twice from the library, I bought my own copy of a story I had never paid much attention to before. It’s a good reminder that an author is only part of a book. The rest belongs to the reader and/or listener.

Some authors are also excellent narrators. Hearing Neil Gaiman read any of his works is a delight. When the author reads, you then know what parts of a story he or she intended to be emphasized, or funny, or dramatic.

The last, and perhaps the best, reason for audiobooks is the delightful feeling of being read to. From wise men or women telling stories around ancient campfires to parents reading fairy tales to their children, human beings have always loved listening to stories.

So go to your library or join Audible or download free readings from the Web. Pick up a couple of unabridged audiobooks. Subscribe to podcasts. Listen, enjoy, and learn. If you have never done this before, I urge you to try it. It will add a whole new dimension to your enjoyment of books, whether fiction or nonfiction.

A few quotes about audiobooks.

I’ve never listened to an audiobook before, and I have to say it’s a totally different experience. When you read a book, the story definitely takes place in your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eyes–Robin Sloan (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore)

Audiobooks speak for themselves.–Paul Acampora (I Kill the Mockingbird)

Narrators can make or break your audiobook experience. Make sure your read first. always remember who’s voice you can stand and try to stick to these people otherwise your will end up hating the book.–Unknown

I love audio books, and when I paint I’m always listening to a book. I find that my imagination really takes flight in the painting process when I’m listening to audio books.–Thomas Kinkade

Sit back. Relax. Kick off your shoes, put up your feet, and get your ear buds in. It’s audiobook time!–David Radtke

The companionship and delight of a voice telling stories is incomparable.–Stephen Fry

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at


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