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Katie Lajiness

Easy Listening: A Starter Guide to Audiobooks

Five reasons to consider them. Five places to find them. Five ideal summer reads.

Looking for a convenient source of entertainment? Love a good story? Wish you had more time to read? Audiobooks might be what you're looking for. While audiobooks aren't new – the first ones were released in the 1930s as vinyl records for blind audiences – they've exploded in popularity of late. According to Pew Research, the number of regular audiobook users has roughly doubled over the past decade.

Why should you consider them? Where can you get them? And how about some ideas for summer listens? Let's take a look.

Five reasons to give audiobooks a try

  1. Easy on the eyes
    During our early 40s many of us develop a condition called presbyopia, a natural part of the aging process that makes it challenging to read close up. Audiobooks eliminate that issue — along with the chore of hunting around for your reading glasses.
  2. No heavy lifting required
    Picture yourself holding a 1,225-page copy of War and Peace in bed. Now picture yourself laying back comfortably and listening to the plot unfold. And if you're on the go? No book to lug around.
  3. They're good for your mental health
    A 2022 U.K study found that 70% of adults who listen to audiobooks said it made them feel less stressed or anxious. That echoes an Audiobook Publishers Association and Edison Research report, which found that more than 73% of audiobook users say listening to audiobooks is a relaxing pastime.
  4. They're not necessarily a solitary pursuit
    Invite friends over and introduce them to your favorite titles. Maybe make it a regular get-together with snacks and refreshments for hours of entertainment.
  5. Listen anywhere
    Working in your garden? Taking a walk? Driving to work? An audiobook can keep you entertained in the process.

Five places to get audiobooks

  • Audible.com
    Looking for a hard-to-find book or the latest bestseller? There's a good chance you can buy it from Audible, which has more than 200,000+ titles in its catalog.
  • Libro.Fm
    Want to support your local bookstore? Buy an audiobook from Libro.FM. Just name the bookstore, and Libro.FM will give it a percentage of your purchase.
  • Your local library (Overdrive.com   or Hoopladigital.com)
    Public libraries offer a diverse selection of free audiobooks. While most still offer books on CDs, a growing number partner with free websites like Overdrive.com and Hoopladigital.com that let you check out and download audiobooks.
  • Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg is an online library with thousands of free audiobooks. It features classics like Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, and others that have become part of the public domain.
  • LibriVox.org
    Another free resource with more than 24,000 public domain audiobooks you can stream directly from the site or download to your device.

Five great summer listens

What makes for a great summer book? One that balances escapism with some mental stimulation. One you can sink into on a road trip or an afternoon walk in the park. These five hit those marks.

  1. Run, Rose, Run by James Patterson and Dolly Parton
    A collaboration between the country music star and one of America's most prolific novelists. It's a story about a singer who moves to Nashville to follow her dreams and outrun her past.
  2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
    This 2012 novel explores intergenerational friendship through the eyes of a lonely older man whose life changes when chatty young neighbors move in next door.
  3. One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
    When a woman's mother dies before their long-planned Italian trip, she's forced to go alone. While there, her mom appears as a 30-year-old and she gets to know her as a young woman – before she became her mother.
  4. The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
    The bestselling author takes you on a of the human body, exploring how it functions, how it can heal itself, and more – all delivered with a dash of wit that makes it an easy, fascinating listen.
  5. I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
    This memoir by the late Hollywood screenwriter offers a humorous, insightful look at life lessons she learned after turning 60.

Happy listening!

Katie Lajiness is the Associate Editor of Be.Well by Medica.