Nonfiction in Audiobooks

The discussion post for the third week of Nonfiction November is to discuss “nontraditional nonfiction.” I admit, I’m a really slow reader and by the time I’m relaxing at home with a book, I’d rather be reading fiction. Therefore, my “traditional” nonfiction reading is pretty much at a snail’s pace. But I get a lot of nonfiction read through audiobook. In fact, I alternate fiction with non-fiction when I’m listening, so I get a lot of nonfiction “read” this way. I can’t recommend a specific book, because there are just too many, and I’m  not all that picky – as long as the reader is reasonably good, I’m happy. 

Instead, let me tell you about why I started listening to audiobooks. When I was younger, I never listened in class. My teachers in middle school used to accuse me of “staring off into space instead of listening,” which I really didn’t think I was doing. By the time I got to high school, I knew I didn’t listen – my chemistry teacher used to always praise me about how I’d discovered a new way to solve his problems. Well, the reason I didn’t do it his way is because I never listened to a word he said. I had no idea how he told us to solve the problems. I didn’t tell him that. Then in college, I had a rather shocking experience. I was sitting with a group of students discussing a class. One of them mentioned something the professor said. I was floored. People actually hear what the professor says? 

After that, I tried. The rest of my undergraduate career I tried really hard to pay attention. It didn’t work. During the first couple of years of grad school, I tried chanting in my head “you must listen, you must listen, you must listen.” Somehow I managed to continue that chant in my head while thinking of other things. I even tried yoga. No luck. I just couldn’t listen to what people said. I decided I was audibly challenged. As in, low auditory comprehension, not poor hearing.

That’s when I tried out audiobooks. I figured I could practice listening to auditory stimulation while I was exercising and stuff. I specifically picked books that I wouldn’t otherwise have read – because I didn’t want to miss something that I actually wanted to read. For instance, I listened to the entire Twilight series. 🙂 

It worked! Now I am able to listen to books that I want to read, and I do it all the time. I like audio for non-fiction, because it doesn’t make my eyes blur over when I’m tired, like written non-fiction can. (Though maybe if I stopped reading books that “read like textbooks” I’d not have this problem – but I like those books!)

Less importantly, I’m better able to listen in classes now. So, thank God for audiobooks!

14 thoughts on “Nonfiction in Audiobooks

  1. I absolutely agree with you that it takes patience and learning to listen to audiobooks. I was so frustrated with them the first couple of times I listened (ok, more than a couple), but now I can actually listen to a book faster than I can read it because my reading time is so limited. Like you I started with books I didn't necessarily care about OR books that I'd already read. Yay Audio!!


  2. That is such an interesting story Rachel. I cannot imagine what it was like during your years when it was so difficult to listen.

    I am glad that audiobooks have worked so well for you.


  3. What a great story! I totally relate because I am very A.D.D. It was never caught because I am not hyperactive but I was in trouble for staring off into space and claiming the teacher did not explain the homework assignment ALL THE TIME. I realized that taking notes on everything was how I could pay attention. Even writing down what did not matter just to practice. I would forget everything 30 sec. after it was said so I wrote it down. I still cannot listen to audiobooks so maybe taking notes would be the trick! Great post!


  4. This is such an interesting post! I love listening to nonfiction and often get through books I'd never finish in print. Printed nonfiction tends to put me to sleep.Have decided that I must be an auditory learner.

    I've always hated reading directions, too, especially for new gadgets… I just want someone to tell me how to use something.


  5. This is such a great story; thank you for sharing your experience with us! It definitely took some practice for me to be able to focus on what I was hearing, when I initially began listening to audiobooks; I find that nonfiction holds my attention much better than fiction, which I find interesting. I listen while I'm running, most often, and find that I get books read much faster this way – ha!


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