What’s the Best Audiobook Genre for Me?

Posted April 19, 2017 / Discussions, Features / 8 Comments

I REALLY WISH I KNEW, OKAY? I’ve always been a huge fan of audiobooks, but I honestly like them more in theory instead of in practice… which means that I force myself to listen to them in order to read more books. Don’t get me wrong: the idea of reading ALL the time when I’d usually be doing anything else (cooking, showering, driving, putting makeup on, etc.) is fantastic. I’ve always been under the impression, though, that the audio format impacts my reading and my ratings more than other formats do. A bad narrator can ruin a book completely. I can lose focus and not pay attention to what’s happening, which causes me to rate the book lower because I “feel like nothing happened.” 🙄 I set out today to explore which audiobook genre is the best for me, and see how ratings are impacted by the genre combination.

Audio Ratings by Genre

I came to an interesting and unexpected conclusion when I looked at my statistics. My average rating for audiobooks in 2016 was 3.8 stars, which is exactly the same as my overall rating for books in all other formats (ebooks, physical copies, advanced copies, etc.). So it looks like I really don’t rate audiobooks any lower than I rate my other books, even though it feels that way for some reason. Here are my ratings for audiobooks by genre:

Contemporary audiobooks: 3.5 stars
Fantasy audiobooks: 4.1 stars
Paranormal audiobooks: 3.9 stars
Retelling audiobooks: 3.5 stars
Dystopia audiobooks: 2.7 stars

I don’t read many dystopian novels so I’m considering that low rating an outlier. Otherwise? They seem pretty solid across all genres. It doesn’t surprise me that fantasy audios average higher though. I like to read longer fantasy books and/or series via audio, so they’re bound to have a higher rating… because otherwise I wouldn’t continue with the series at all.

Genre Pros & Cons

Each genre has its good and bad things that make me enjoy or hate listening to the audiobook. My biggest audiobook-related gripe – regardless of genre – is the narrator’s voice. That can completely make or break the book no matter what. Some narrators sound better than others and this can vary based on genre, but for the most part? I seem to like fantasy or celebrity narrators better. Weird.

Fantasy, Paranormal, Dystopia, etc.

Number listened to in 2016: 19

There are more cons than pros here, but I still find myself always gravitating toward listening to fantasy audiobooks. I counted up the amount of fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, and dystopia audiobooks from 2016 and read 19. I know that’s a broad category but I was trying to touch anything non-contemporary to prove this point. I think the major reason is that I get so distracted while reading the books that they take me forever to get through. Sure, I zone out during the audiobooks too… but I think I take it in more if I’m listening instead of reading. I never have the full silence I need to read a fantasy book.

PROS: 

  • Reading a physical form of a fantasy book takes me forever and I get easily distracted
  • Longer books make for good, long audiobooks to stretch out
  • More likely to binge a fantasy series if I can do it via audio

CONS:

  • Still get distracted because the worlds are so different – zone out or miss things
  • Feel like nothing is happening for some reason and feels like less action
  • Starting a series via audio then sometimes switching to another format (I’ll hear the audio narrator’s voice in my head as I read, which could be a good or bad thing depending; I get used to and enjoy the audio and wish I didn’t have to read the actual book)

Contemporary

Number listened to in 2016: 5

My favorite genre lends itself pretty nicely to audiobooks, but I don’t listen to very many of them! I just read 5 in 2016. I think because contemporaries are usually shorter and easier to actually read, I think it just takes me less time to sit down and read it instead of listening to it. It’s nice because there’s no world-building and I can get distracted without missing key information usually.

PROS: 

  • Very easy to pay attention to – no world-building needed
  • Simple stories and usually shorter than fantasy audiobooks

CONS:

  • Often annoying narrators or ones that sound too young/old for the character’s age
  • Much faster to just read the physical book than listen to the audio
  • More tempted to DNF if I don’t like the narrator’s voice or they sound too whiny

Nonfiction / Memoir

Number listened to in 2016: 0

I think this is my favorite audiobook genre, even if I don’t listen that much. I didn’t read/listen to a single one in 2016, but I know I heard at least 3 in 2015. I love celebrity memoirs (for celebrities I love and want to know more about). I’ve listen to some seriously great celebrity-narrated memoirs. I hardly ever rate them poorly because hearing their voice makes me happy.

PROS: 

  • Usually narrated by the celebrity, which makes it super fun and easy to hear
  • Read books I usually wouldn’t bother reading because I don’t read many physical nonfiction books

CONS:

  • Sometimes miss out on notes or documents in the physical copy

Overall

I have a clear favorite in terms of quantity, but maybe not quality. I gravitate toward anything non-contemporary for audiobooks because I’m less likely to read a physical copy. I spend too much time reading them, so I figure I may as well spread it out over a longer period of audiobook time. In some instances, it’s the only time I’ll actually read a non-contemporary book. My favorite category, in terms of enjoyability, is definitely the nonfiction/memoir genre. I love when celebrities I like read their own books. It just makes me happy and lends itself to a nice listening experience.

What do you think? Do you gravitate toward
specific genres when you listen to audiobooks?

8 responses to “What’s the Best Audiobook Genre for Me?

  1. I wish I could listen to more audiobooks. I tend to zone out all the time while listening to them. I’m not sure if it’s the audiobook itself, like the person talking, or if I just get distracted. I’ve tried doing it multiple times so I could listen while I was at the gym or something but it never works! D: I’m glad you can get into them tho 😀

    Amber @ Escape Life in the Pages

  2. I’ve never ‘read’ an audiobook. *gasp* I would love to try it but I fear being easily distracted and not getting into it, like you mentioned. Very cool to research more of your habits with it. Perhaps someday I will it give it shot!

  3. Such a great discussion!! I definitely listen to a lot of nonfiction/memoirs. I haven’t looked but probably my most listened to. I don’t read/listen to a lot of fantasy but I tend to listen and I am not sure why. I think I fond it easier to get through. I totally agree about contemporaries – sometimes the narrators are bad and whiny for sure. I like listening to series – like HP and have another one on deck when that is over.

  4. This is really interesting! I’ve been having a lot of luck with audiobooks lately. I’ve listened to a lot of 5 star ones. I’m super picky about the narrator though. I always listen to the preview and skip it if I don’t think I’ll like them. I’ll just stop listening if I dislike the narrator too. But yes, I seem to gravitate more to contemporary books on audio. I’ve listened to some amazing fantasy book (Ember and Torch) but I think I prefer to read fantasy so that I don’t miss anything. Plus, I like getting through them faster and contemporaries are faster listens. Great post!

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