Mama Life Hacks {#17}: Audiobooks

11 days ’til Christmas! Oy vey!

I would love to tell you that I’m way on top of things–that everything’s perfectly decorated, the gifts are bought and wrapped, and the girls’ dolls that I’m DETERMINED to make this year (I gave myself a pass on account of being hugely pregnant last year) are at least started.

But it would all be lies.

I have some of my house decorated (maybe I’ll get a chance to snap some pics and show you…maybe not), most of my gifts bought, none of them wrapped, and I haven’t even picked out the fabric for the girls’ dolls.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the fact that Theo’s first birthday is in 15 days (Whaaaaa? Hoooooow?), and that’s the first time I’ve even considered that fact. And the only time I’m likely to consider it until after Christmas is over.

Suffice it to say that that I’ve got some stuff to do in the next two weeks. Good thing I’ve got some good books to listen to, huh?

What?

I’ve actually mentioned this idea before, but I’ve never officially added it to the #mamalifehacks list, so today, I’m making it official.

Audiobooks are a fabulous way to get some culture or information or–gasp!–entertainment WHILE getting stuff done.

In fact, I find the prospect of listening to a good book so motivating that I’ll happily tackle otherwise miserable jobs like taking every last thing out of my big walk-in pantry and scrubbing it down because–ahem–there miiiiight have been a little problem with moths (which started, I’ll have you know, when a certain small person left the remnants of her sandwich in her lunchbox and then returned it to the pantry without her mother’s knowledge).

I’ve been listening to books from Audible for about a year now, and I’ve accomplished all kinds of projects and household tasks–painting furniture, replanting flower beds, cleaning bathrooms–all while being transported to another realm via excellent fiction.

Because novels are definitely my first choice. I have friends who only listen to nonfiction, and I applaud them for their dedication to self-education, but I’m a lover of literature first and foremost and have devoured a good 20 books over the last year or so.

Which  is more than I’ve actually sat down and read in…years. And years.

Because that’s the thing: with life as busy as it is right now, I’ve practically lost the ability to sit still and do just one thing (unless it’s Bible reading in the morning). If I’m not multitasking in at least some small way, I feel guilty. I’m not saying I should, but I do.

If you’re wondering how I manage to get stuff done with earbuds in and still pay attention to my children, I have a very simple answer. I keep one earbud out at all times. That way, I can still stay in touch with what’s going on around me or listen for little ones waking up from naps.

Obviously, there are plenty of times when I can’t listen, even with one earbud, and do my tasks well, so I reserve my listening times for: naptimes/quiet times, early in the morning, late at night, or when the kids are at the park or another place where my eyes do most of the work.

ANYway, I tell you this right now for two reasons–1) it would be super fun/productive to listen to an audiobook while you’re: icing cookies, preparing for a feast, wrapping presents, or even searching online for some last minute gifts. There are lots of fairly mindless tasks that need to happen around this time of year that would be made infinitely better by a good book. And 2) if you know a fellow book-lover who could benefit from hands-free “reading,” then this makes a great gift. (Shaun, who first got me into Audible, has gotten this as a gift from multiple people in the past).

I’ve mentioned Audible a couple of times, not because this is a sponsored post or because they’re the only option (I know some people get books for FREE from online library resources), but because it’s what I use/like.

Oh! And I haven’t even really talked about the books themselves, but Audible has a really good database of reviews, and I usually pick my books from those paired with the recommendations of books that you’d “probably like” based on what I’ve already listened to.

And honestly? I usually enjoy listening more than reading. I have a yen for historical novels (WWII has been a theme recently) or British novels, which translates to people with accents doing the reading most of the time…which is fun for this American girl. But also, the voice talents are just SO stinking good. They bring the characters to life in a way that pure text cannot, and add a dimension of interest that takes most books to a whole other level.

Case in point: I listened to The Kitchen House (I don’t particularly recommend it), and while I would have been only marginally interested in the plot (it’s melodramatic and repetitive) normally, the strength of the voice acting alone kept my focus.

As far as books I have liked, I’m currently halfway through one that I LOVE (like, really, really adore) called:

It’s fascinating. And the voice acting (at least of the first narrator–there are two) is AH-mazing. The best I’ve heard. Her accents are phenomenal. I won’t elaborate on the plot because I don’t want to ruin anything for you.

Another of my favorites is:

It’s also set in WWII (I told you I had a thing), and a completely different style but still really good, except that that narrator isn’t quite as engaging.

I’ve also listened to every single one of Kate Morton’s books except her newest (it’s in my queue), and I love her stuff in general (many of which are also set in WWII; ha!), and a couple of other honorable mentions are:

Definitely NOT WWII and considerably grittier than that rest, but excellently written and tautly suspenseful…

and

Which is set in Ethiopia and interesting, though ultimately, a bit depressing.

ANYhoo, if you have any interest in trying Audible out for yourself, you can click through and sign up for a free 30 day membership. You can cancel it at any time, and you will never be charged for anything, and they don’t hassle you at all. In fact, usually if you cancel and give a reason (like “too expensive”), then they’ll give you a BETTER offer than you would normally get to get you to to stick around. It’s definitely worth it to take. Can you tell I speak from experience? (This is an affiliate link).

And if you’re thinking of buying a subscription as a gift, there are several options, but you could always start somebody out with an Audible Gold membership.

Sometimes, I honestly feel like I’m “cheating” when I listen to Audiobooks while I work…like, really? I get to do something enjoyable AND be productive?

Yup. Which is why this is one of my favorite #mamalifehacks right now.

Do you listen to audiobooks already? What are some of your faves? I’m always on the lookouts for more good material.

Anybody tried the free option? How does that work? I know that free usually means limited selection

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9 thoughts on “Mama Life Hacks {#17}: Audiobooks

  1. If you like Kate Morton (the Forgotten Garden, oh my word!) You might enjoy Laurinda Riley. Also set in WWII era mostly…also my fave! And In her Hands is a good one too. And oldie but great (and not sure if it’s on Audible) is Hansel and Gretel. Not the witch hunters or the fairy tale but an engrossing story set in WWII Poland about two Jewish children. So good! And I love this idea of multitasking reading. I’m often doing chores or crafts or catching up on work emails after my daughters go to bed and always wishing I were curled up with a good book. Thanks!

  2. I also love Audible. Some of my favorites have been The House girl and The Invention of Wings. I tend to listen to historical fiction and classics. I also tend to listen to long books. I’m not able to listen every day so I kind of enjoy sticking with a book for what could be months (we’re talking 30+ hours). I feel like I’m really getting my money’s worth;) In terms of free I have had some good experience with librivox.org. These books are only in the public domain so they are at least 75 years old. Also the narrators are volunteers so not always the best. I’m asking for wireless ear buds for Christmas this year so I’m hoping this will encourage me to listen to more books this year. I’ve read 40 this year and listened to about 5.

  3. I highly recommend the author Charles Martin. Wrapped in Rain, When Crickets Cry, or The Mountain Between Us are my favorites. Have a tissue handy!

  4. I realize you are talking about books for yourself; however, I’d highly recommend Chuck Black’s audiobooks (the paper copies as well) for part of your family. Your older boys may enjoy them now. Our kids are 14, 11, 10, and 8 (3 girls and 1 boy). They all love these books.

  5. I’m a big fan of audible, too. One of my friends used it and loved it, and she got me started on it. I use it for homeschool read-alouds when I can- much better than hearing my own voice all day. Like you, I am also more likely to do tedious work if I have something to listen, too.

    I tend to listen to the same things repeatedly. When you have multiple interruptions, you don’t have to worry as much about missing something. Some of Jane Austen’s books- like Pride & Prejudice are good. I also like the Irish Country doctor series by Patrick Taylor- read in a lovely Irish accent.

    A kids book that I love to hear every year at Christmas is “When Santa Fell to Earth” by Cornelia Funke.

I love hearing from you guys!