Solve: How I Learned to Love Audiobooks

On the hidden blessings of a long commute

Charm City

I have to admit it. I used to be one of those people who claimed they couldn’t listen to audiobooks. I thought I couldn’t pay attention long enough to follow the plot. Had it not been for a job that included a 45-minute commute to and from the office each day, I might have always believed that silliness and never known the joy of listening to audiobooks.

When I started driving 45 minutes to work, I quickly became frustrated with the morning radio talk shows that were heavy with advertisements, and the evening commute home was no better. The marketing people know what times to riddle the airwaves with commercials in order to hit the largest audience. And I also felt like that hour and a half was such a waste of time. I would contemplate all the things I could be doing with those 90 or more minutes everyday.

Jolie Blon's Bounce

Feeling like I had nothing to lose—heck, most days I ended up turning off my radio in disgust—I picked up some audiobooks from the library. It wasn’t an instantaneous conversion, but it didn’t take long either. I found books I was interested in with great narrators and discovered I actually focused on driving better while I listened to audiobooks. Since it’s been well over a decade now, I can’t even tell you what title I started with. But I can tell you that’s when I fell in love with Mark Hammer’s narrations of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series and Deborah Hazlett reading the beginning of Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series. I flew through the Myron Bolitar mysteries, read by Jonathan Marosz, and worked my way through Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series.

Heartbreak Hotel by Jonathan Kellerman

These days I work from home, so I don’t have that commute anymore. But as my love for audiobooks continued to grow while I was making the drive—and those 90 minutes turned into not enough time—I found more and more opportunities to fit audiobooks into my daily routines: dog walks, house work, yard work, crafting, etc. Now people will often hear me say, “If I’m not reading a book for myself, I want someone to be telling me a story.” It’s that same thrill and joy you have as a small child when adults read to you. And it all derived from my long commute.

How did you learn to love listening to audiobooks? What were your first memorable listens? If you’re looking for a new one, be sure to check out some of the great reviews on our site.

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A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

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