Reading Audiobooks | How To…

There has been a lot of things going around lately about audiobooks and whether its considered real reading. I am not going to go into a rant about those who claim it is not, but I am going to tell you how to get the most out of reading/listening to audiobooks.

Now I am not going to lie, it does take some getting use to and there are still times I find myself not paying attention and having to rewind it some or re-listen to parts and a lot of times when this happens I will slow the reading speed down a little depending on the task I am doing. But I have been able to complete 28 audiobooks this year, which is about half of the total number of books I read this year.

Before I get into the all the full details I will give a short look at the pros and cons of audiobooks (because they are not for everyone)

Pros:                                                                       Cons:

  • Multitasking                       •  Can’t tell how far in you are/long you have until the end
  • Hands free                         •  Cant see illustrations
  • Easy to take everywhere    •  Cant take insta pics with an audiobook

Now that we got that out of the way, below will be some qualities of audiobooks and the how to make to most out of listening to audiobooks!

Speed

I use to be a person who do not listen to audiobook and had a real hard time paying attention while I was doing other things and there is some skill and learning to it. When I was starting out I had to listen to them at 1.0x speed and could only listen to them as I was laying in bed before falling asleep. Now I listen to them at 1.75x speed and do a variety of different tasks while listening. I would recommend when you are first starting out to play around with the speed, but to probably start at 1.0x and work your way up. Sometimes it depends on the narrator and their voice as well. 

Narrator 

I have also found that the narrator can make or break an audiobook for me. For me personally I cant stand it when a male narrator is trying to make a female voice and visa versa. I seem to pay attention to their voice more than what they are actually saying. I have also found that I cannot stand full cast narrations, but I know that is what tons of people prefer because it helps them follow the characters. I like the option to sample the audiobook so I can see if the narrator is someone I can stand to listen to. Some of my favorite narrators are Phobe Strole, Claire Danes and Jim Dale!

Genre

Another thing that can make it or break it for you with an audiobook is the genre. I have found I cannot listen to fantasy books because they usually have so much going on that they are hard to follow along with unless I am solely focusing on the audiobook. I have found listening to non-fiction books as an audiobook helps me get through non-fiction because I normally can only read it for so long. I was also never a big contemporary fan, but have found I enjoy listening to them as audiobooks. They are books I do not like spending money on and with audiobooks they are free! So the main genres I listen to as audiobooks are contemporary, romance, new adult, mystery/thrillers, and nonfiction.

Sources

Now I know there are many places you can get audiobooks, but I think the best way is the free way! Many libraries are partnered up with digital/audio lending apps that all you need is your library number and password! I have both Overdrive and Hoopla. Each one has different books available and different stipulations for borrowing books. With Hoopla there is no wait for a book, but you can only borrow 4 a month and get to keep each for 30 days. Overdrive is like a library where you have to wait for the book to be available before you can borrow it and only for 14 days, but there is a much larger limit to wait you can check out. There are also sites like Amazon Unlimited, Audible and Scribd, if you would like to explore those options.

Where To Read

The main reason I started listening to audiobooks is because I struggle with insomnia and having something to focus on as I go to bed was helping me fall asleep. I was able to put aside all the things that happened that day and things I needed to do the rest of the week as I listened to the narrator tell a story! This is still how I fall asleep many nights, but my use of audiobooks grew when I realized I was having to choose more and more between reading, work, chores, the gym etc. So I figured there was so much empty and wasted time that I could fit an audiobook in, instead of listening to music (now dont get me wrong I love music but its nice to switch it up!)

  • Gym – I find it harder and harder to convince myself to go to the gym, especially when there are other things I need to and want to do. For awhile when I was going to the gym I would watch Netflix, but when lifting weights that is not something that can happen. So I have started listening to audiobooks while at the gym. It helps the time go by fast and I feel so much more productive when I leave!
  • Household Chores– This is another activity I could do without. Dishes, laundry, picking up etc. I was not made for this kind of life. But I hook my phone up to my blue tooth speakers and listen to a book as I complete my chores. Again another way to feel doubly productive.
  • Baking/Cooking– Now dont get me wrong I love to cook and bake, but after a long day going to work and gym, coming home to make food and clean up the mess for myself/by myself is not ideal. So listening to an audiobook allows me to unwind and focus my thoughts on something else to distance myself from the day and office. A lot of times when I am baking it is for fun and because I want to with some extra time, but it is always hard when I have to choose whether to bake or read. Audiobooks make that an easy decision!
  • Long Drives/Commuting– I am one that has to make some long drives for work and within the past year or two have made quite a few super long drives especially by myself. The radio only works so long because it starts to play the same music over and over again and playlist are only so long. It is nice to switch it up and get some reading in while driving! For me I also get car sick if I try reading as a passenger, so audiobooks are perfect for that as well. This past summer I went to South Dakota with my parents, it was a 9 hour drive and I was stuck in the back seat the whole time. I was able to listen to a full audiobook the drive there and a whole other one on the drive back! I am sure if I had a lot of commuting for work or had to ride public transit I would be listening to even more audiobooks!
  • Crafting/Blogging– Now as far as blogging goes it sometimes depends on the book I am listening to, the narrator and pace because trying to write and listen at the same time can get messy. But if I watch tv/movies while doing either blogging or crafting I sometimes find myself just staring at the television and not getting far with what I was working on.
  • Getting Ready In The Morning– As previously mentioned the tv tends to distract me a lot. Especially in the morning when I am getting ready for work, I find myself stopping and watching the tv as I am walking around the apartment, getting dressed, making breakfast etc. I will end up sitting down on the couch and forgetting I need to go to work. I have found I have much more luck if I listen to an audiobook instead. If you haven’t noticed I do not do well with the quiet, especially since I live alone, I always have to have other noise going.

If you aren’t an audiobook user and looking to get into it I hope this provided some help!

I would love to hear from others on their thoughts on audiobooks, who their fav narrators are, what they do while listening to audiobooks! 

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How To…

Promote Your Blog-2

 

Now I want to start this by saying I am by no means an expert or knowledgeable about everything. This is more of an advice/tips to how to rate and review books according to what I myself do in regards to rating and reviewing books! I know lately in the book community stuff has been going around about how booktubers and book bloggers rate books and how they are critical enough etc. I do not know much about the subject because I have a lot going on in my life and try to stay out of the book politics. I just wanted to explain how I go about rating and reviewing books. I hope this all makes sense, I was trying to cover everything, but might have missed something.

I have to admit recently I feel like I have been a little lenient on my rating of books. There are areas that I could improve and be more critical in. One of the hardest parts of rating and reviewing books for me is considering each book its own and not compare books to each other when rating and reviewing. I believe that you cannot compare a contemporary book to a high/epic fantasy book. They each have different components and bring about different emotions as well as have different expectations. So I try and keep this in mind and create a mental list of what I am hoping to get from the book and what qualities I believe should be in that specific novel.

HOW I REVIEW BOOKS

There are a few things that I look for in a book while I am reviewing it or components I think about when writing up a review other than those major ones of execution, plot, grammar, originality and flow of the book. When writing up my reviews for a book I try to make sure to address these components and how the author executed these factors. I think it is important to pick qualities you look for and make a good story/book for you while reviewing. Here are some of mine:

Wold Building: More so in fantasy, I find this extremely important. I believe that wold building can make or break a book. If you can’t imagine the world or put yourself there it could create you to not get the full affect of the story. For me the more details and uniqueness of a world cause for the rest of the story to more enjoyable.

Writing Style: I feel like this should be included in everyones reviews. I believe writing style can make or break a book because it deals with the flow and overall readability of the book. Sometimes the writing style is done in a certain way for a specific affect but other times it is just the way the author writes. I am more of a fan of long lyrical prose rather than short to the point.

Character Development/Growth: I feel like at times I become very picky about this. I like well flushed out characters that have developed story lines, personalities and characteristic. Now I understand in certain books there is different reasons for characters to be not fully developed etc.

Believability: This is problem in contemporaries and romance novels. Sometimes it is even a huge problem in young adult novels. I do not like when books create to many situations,love and relationships that aren’t believable. This goes along the lines of insta-love and love triangles. Reality is not always butterflies and rainbows and rarely do people meet and instantly fall head over heels in love with each other. So this is just a huge issue for me when I am reading a book.

Pacing: Pacing is a very big thing for me because when a book is too slow and filled with unnecessary information I start to not enjoy it as much. Pacing also deals with a lot of how the rest of the story turns out with twists and plot points that are needed to drive a story.

Quotes: This is not something that can really make or break a book, but something I enjoy greatly when reading a book. My books are always marked up with stickies and flags of great quotes and passages!

The Ending: I am a big stickler on endings of books. The way that the author ends a book and the shocks or twists at the end of a book can really make it or break it for me. I am not the hugest fan of open endings, but if I can understand where the author was coming from by doing it, it will make it a little better.

So what are some things you note when reading and reviewing a book?

WRITING THE REVIEW

This is something I struggle with and I am working on getting better at it. I think reviews on books are important not only for feedback for the author, but to help promote,sell people on your favorites or express your opinions. There is usually so many thoughts and opinions swimming around in my head after I read a book. I can sit here and discuss its flaws or points in excelled in with no problem, but once I have to collect those thoughts and turn them into a review that is were I struggle. I tend to ramble and repeat myself a lot and sometimes I am unable to truly get across what I want to. I have been really trying to express my opinions without giving away major plot points or spoilers. When writing a review I try to convey both positives and negatives(problems) I had when reading the book. I do not believe that any book is perfect (although there are some that are close!) and there is always room for improvement. Sometimes when reading through reviews I have found that some little problems that people have with a certain book are enough to cause me to steer away from a book because that issues is a pet peeve of mine or something along the lines.

RATING SYSTEM

I do rate books on a 5 point system and I also use half stars. I find that sometimes a book just isn’t up to par of a whole star but falls somewhere between the two. I try to be as critical as possible when I am rating a book and sometimes I change my rating multiple times before I settle on one.  I also rate each book on its own, but sometimes will rate them against another in the same series ( which doesn’t do the book justice for instance the Vampire Academy series, I rated one of the books a 3 star because it was my least favorite in the series, but it reality the book was more of a 4 star). I also do not believe that there is a book without flaws, but I do give books 5 stars (crowns in regards to my posts)

5s

Absolutely Amazing : For me that means that the book might have had slight flaws, but overall I could not put the book down, it left me with loads of feels, I cant stop talking about it and recommending it to friends. Usually a 5 star rating for me means it is one of my favorites and I have/would reread it.

 

RATING-4♠ Greatly Enjoyed It: This book was highly enjoyable, but had some flaws or problems that annoyed/frustrated me. It was still a quality book and had many components I still look for in a book. I still recommend these books to others. There also might have been just a small thing missing that I thought could have made the book that much better.

 

RATING-2A Solid Read: This usually means that the book was good. There wasn’t anything absolutely amazing about it or anything that made it incredibly horrible. I enjoyed reading it and thought it had some great qualities, but there were also problems that I had with the execution,story, character arcs etc or there was something that was missing from the book that caused the book to be lacking. I still recommend these books to others. (but on a more specific personal interest basis.

rating

Did Not Like It: This book had a lot of problems that were just too hard to overlook. These are usually bigger issues such as the execution, plot holes or no driving plot, lack of character development/growth, unrealistic, lack of originality and confusing/boring/hard to follow story. These are usually books I will not keep on my shelves and I do not recommend these books to people.

RATINGHate It/DNF:  I do not yet think I have given a book a 1 star rating yet. This rating means that there are just too many problems and no redeeming points of the book. It was boring or hard to make it through the book. I have yet to put down a book without finishing it, but it would fall under this category (for my blog, if I DNF a book for goodreads purposes I would not rate it).

 

I would love to hear how you review and rate your books. Learning ways that other people do these things helps to shape how I think about books as I am reading and makes me realize things I haven’t before while reading! I would also love thought and opinions on this post and on suggestions for posts like this in the future.

 

How To…..

Promote Your Blog

I have decided to add a new feature to my little blog! Now I will make this clear, I am not an expert at anything and don’t know everything. I just wanted to create this to share the knowledge I have acquired and help other bloggers out!  I need to thank many other bloggers for where I am as a blogger. So here are some tips and tricks (I am a book blogger so they are geared to that) that I have learn for gaining followers and broadening my subscriber base. These have helped to promote my blog and make it more widely known which has lead me to other opportunities in the book community!

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social Media will be your best friend! Social media has really helped me to get my name out there and has allowed me to be in contact and meet/talked to so many people. I have a goodreads account in which I add all of my reviews to and keep updates as to what I am reading and such. I also have my link to my blog in the info bar. As well as having that account I have it linked up to my blog so it shows what I am currently reading on the sidebar. I also link up book synopsis and book titles up to goodreads in my blog posts. I have a tumblr and twitter directly linked up to my blog. It is a tumblr and twitter account specifically created for my blog and has my blog post linked up to post to them as well. This helps to broaden your follower base by reaching out to other forms in which people who do not have a blog use, but still allows them to see you posts!

ENGAGEMENTS & INTERACTIONS

Make yourself known personally, reach out to others and participate. In order to get your name out there and make others familiar with your blog you have to be active in the blogging community. Whatever platform you use for blogging there are newsfeeds set up to follow those posts from the blog you follow and you can also use bloglovin which allows you to follow others blogs that use different sites for blogging or their own domain. Make sure you spend some time and look through others blogs and comment and interact with those bloggers. There are quite a few bloggers I comment and talk back and forth with quite often. By doing this I have been able to do joint blog posts and buddy reads with others which is really fun and helps to reach out to different people and bloggers! Read-a-thons are another good way to do this whether it be a blogger held read-a-thon, one hosted by a book tuber on youtube or even a bigger known one such as Bout of books (next one is in January I believe) or Dewey 24 hour read-a-thon (coming up in October). By doing these I have been able to find new blogs and also received new followers. They are really fun to participate in and usually have challenges and giveaways. I recently signed up to host a challenge for Bout of Books and was so shocked and surprised how many people participated in it! Also by following authors and publishers on twitter I have had opportunities to sign up to host on blog tours where I have been just given information to post and that helps with traffic to the blog.

BLOG SCHEDULES

It is important to remain consistent. Start yourself a blogging schedule. I blog at least once everyday, but you don’t have to go that far. People like to know when to look out for your posts and what posts you are doing so forming a schedule helps with that. There are certain posts I normally do each day.

Monday: Making Up For Monday- a meme created by An Avid Reader; A Wannabe Writer.
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday- created by Broke and Bookish 
Wednesday: I usually try to post some reviews or other features I do on my blog like How To, Book Blogger Shout-out or announcing participating in something book related.
Thursday: Third Sentence Thursday: created by Thats What She Read 
Friday: Friday Reads- in which I share what I am currently reading or planning on reading for the weekend/next week.
Saturday: Swoon Worthy Saturday hosted by Stay Bookish . Saturdays are usually when post are put up for the Book Of The Month FCLA Book Club!
Sunday: I usually try to post some reviews or other features I do on my blog like How To, Book Blogger Shout-out or announcing participating in something book related.

There are so many other daily post that other bloggers participate in and here is a good site that includes a good list of them. It is important to create your own schedule and feel for your blog that expresses your interest and determines your blogging personality. Also creating different or unique features that are just yours also creates more intrigue. That also goes along with the formatting and vibe of your blog. Trying to remain consistent with how your blog looks and how your post are formatted is important as well so that followers know what to expect. Tagging on your post and categorizing your posts also help to make your blog searchable on the internet and make your blog easier to navigate!

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Well this is kind of a long post so I will end it there! I hope this has been helpful information and if you have an advice or questions I would love to hear from you! Look out for more How To… features on my blog and if you have any suggestions of what you would like me to do please comment below about that as well! Thanks for reading and best of luck on your blogging experiences!
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