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.
- 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
- 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)
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.
- Very easy to pay attention to – no world-building needed
- Simple stories and usually shorter than fantasy audiobooks
- 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.
- 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
- Sometimes miss out on notes or documents in the physical copy
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.