Audiobooks are great, as I’m sure you know. But for some people, they are a difficult book format to get used to. If you have problems to focus on audiobooks, I have some tricks for you that might make it easier to stay engaged in the story or topic!
You are likely aware of most of the benefits of audiobooks. But listening to audiobooks is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it’s one that you can practice!
So, if you have found that your mind keeps wandering, there are quite a few things you can try to train your brain to concentrate on listening to audiobooks!
**The marked links and book covers on this page are affiliate links. If you use them to purchase something, I earn a fee at no additional cost for you. Disclosure**
How to Focus on Audiobooks
First off, let me tell you that you’re not the only one who struggles with focusing on audiobooks! People regularly tell me that they have trouble getting into this book format because their mind keeps wandering.
And even though I listen to over 200 audiobooks a year, I can relate to having difficulty listening to books. I also have moments when my mind drifts away.
Let’s start with the basics that make it easier to keep concentration while listening to audiobooks:
A really good audiobook is one that YOU truly enjoy. And it will be much easier to focus on that than, e.g., on a random award-winning, popular audiobook that might be great for many people but simply doesn’t interest you!
That’s why I also don’t recommend that you start with audiobooks to better get through your textbooks. Auditory learning doesn’t work for everyone. And if it doesn’t come naturally to you, you need to practice how to concentrate on audiobooks first before you can pick up more complex ones.
If you are looking for audiobooks you can more easily focus on, it’s not the best idea to ask others for their recommendations. Instead, try out the tips below to find something that fits perfectly with your individual taste and mood.
Focusing on audiobooks is something your brain gets used to. After a little while, your mind won’t wander as much anymore (unless you’re really bored by the story or have something important to think about).
You’ll be able to follow the storyline even while doing other things at the same time.
But not every person can listen to every audiobook. Some people can only focus on nonfiction, others can’t deal with more than one narrator. I wholeheartedly believe, though, that everyone who wants to listen to audiobooks can find titles they enjoy!
Useful Audiobook Terms
If an audiobook is unabridged, it is word for word the same as the print or ebook versions of that title. Most audiobooks you will find, e.g., on Audible, are unabridged.
Abridged audiobooks are shortened versions of a book that are specifically adapted for audio format. This is most often done for radio plays.
A full-cast or multicast audiobook is performed by a group of narrators. Every main character is narrated by a different voice actor, so it’s very easy to distinguish between them. Full-cast productions are often abridged.
Consider this “full cast light”. In duet narrations, a narrator with a manly voice reads all male-sounding characters, and a narrator with a feminine voice reads all the female-sounding characters.
Related article: How to find Duet Narration Audiobooks
This is a very common form of narration for fiction audiobooks with dual point-of-view chapters. The voice actors each have a main character and read all chapters from this point of view.
Since many narrators work from their own home studio, dual narration is easier to produce than duet or multicast, which require narrators to record together in one studio.
However, this is also the form that I found the most difficult to get used to since the characters sound different in each chapter. I recommend passing on dual narration audiobooks until you feel more comfortable with the format as a whole.
This is closest to having someone read a story to you and also the most common narration form for nonfiction audiobooks. Depending on the narrator and the topic, they might do more voice acting or more reading.
Now that you know the most important audiobook terms, let’s check out some tips to help you focus while listening to an audiobook.
Tip 1: Listen to Samples
Don’t ever buy an audiobook without listening to a sample! Especially when read by one or two narrators, you need to make sure you like their voices and reading style since they can differ immensely.
Most audiobook stores show a button under the audiobook cover. Click on it to listen to a few minutes of the book for free to see if it works for you!
Since, most often, it is down to personal taste whether you like a narrator or not, I cannot stress enough how important it is to check out a sample before buying an audiobook.
The narrator makes or breaks an audiobook experience. And it is down to the voice whether you have an easy time paying attention to an audiobook!
So, if you are struggling with focus, it is absolutely crucial to find an audiobook that easily keeps you engaged during the sample.
If you notice you are quickly starting to drift off, it’s not the right audiobook for you, at least not yet, while you are still training your brain!
Tip 2: Listen to an Audiobook you “know”
A great way to get more used to audiobooks is to start with ones that come easily to you.
Do you listen to podcasts? Then the step to nonfiction audiobooks is very small. From true crime to self-help, there are many audiobooks that might be a good fit with your interests and have a similar narration style to what you know from your favorite podcasts. Your favorite podcaster might even have an audiobook out already!
Do you like to have movies or shows running on the TV while you are crafting, painting, or ironing? Then you are already used to listening and filling in the visuals to what you are hearing.
Some fiction books have elaborate audiobook productions with several voice actors and background sounds (called full cast or audio play) that are exactly like listening to a movie. This might be a great place for you to get into audiobooks!
Are you an avid reader of print or ebooks? Listen to some of your favorite books in audio format to experience them in a new format! If you ever lose focus for a moment, it will be easy for you to get back into it because you already know the story.
Tip 3: Read along
In school or seminars, did you have a difficult time focusing on the lecturer, and are you prone to doodling and daydreaming?
If you struggle with auditory learning, then you might want to try reading along while playing an audiobook!
You can adjust the narration speed in the usual audiobook apps, so you can find a comfortable balance between your listening and reading speed.
You can read along in a print book or use Amazon Whispersync to read an ebook while syncing it with the audio version.
This immersive reading is a popular technique for people who are learning to read. But it’s also a great method to improve your concentration on spoken words if you are a proficient reader who struggles with audiobooks.
Tip 4: Find Activites that go well with Audiobooks
If you feel more comfortable when you keep your hands busy, audiobooks might work much better for you than ebooks or print books. But you have to find the right activities to do while listening to audiobooks.
What you do shouldn’t be too distracting or mentally engaging.
One thing people love about audiobooks is how they make chores more fun. Chores generally don’t require a lot of active thinking, and you are very used to the movements required.
If you rather want to do something fun and relaxing, coloring books or puzzles are great options. Personally, I like to do puzzle games on the phone. I turn the game sounds off and pick games that don’t have a storyline I would need to follow.
Tip 5: Find affordable Audiobooks
Many people consider an Audible subscription and audiobooks in general quite expensive. If you spent a lot of money on an audiobook and then don’t fully enjoy it, you will likely force yourself to finish it anyway. Or you push off continuing with it and instead don’t listen to audiobooks at all.
Related article: Why are Audiobooks so expensive?
Either way, if listening to audiobooks doesn’t yet come easily to you, you will be much better off in a situation where you can try out different audiobooks without having to worry too much about the bottom line and without a bad conscience if you don’t finish one and instead pick up another.
There are many audiobook subscriptions that work like Netflix. You pay a monthly fee, and, in turn, you can listen to as many books as you want. The best option, if it’s available to you, is a library card that works with Hoopla for digital audiobooks. Alternatives are Audible Plus, Kindle Unlimited, or Audiobooks.com Clubs.
Tip 6: Explore a Variety of Audiobooks
Not all audiobooks are created equal! And when I see someone on Twitter post, “I want to try out an audiobook, what should I get?” I shudder. Shudder, I tell you!
Because there aren’t only all the different genres we have in print books, from Romance to Sci-Fi, from memoir to science books. There are also many differences in audiobook productions.
And if you are someone who has found it difficult to focus on audiobooks, then you can give different audio formats a try to see what works best for you!
Try out different narrators, narration forms, short audiobooks, nonfiction, fiction, and see what is easiest for you to concentrate on. Then take it from there!
If you are looking for more info, read on in my comprehensive beginner’s guide on How to Listen to Audiobooks!
I mostly recommend fiction audiobooks here on Lovely Audiobooks, but you could hop over to Manifesting Human Design to check out some of the best Manifestation and Law of Attraction books if you are looking for inspiration on nonfiction!
If you’re the adventurous kind, you can also take a look at my Audiobook Challenge! It covers a range of genres and narration forms, so you can explore all kinds of different audiobooks and find the ones that work best for you.
And don’t worry, you can grab trial months for unlimited audiobook subscriptions, so it is affordable to do this!
Eline Blackman (pronouns: she/they) fell in love with books as a child – with being read to and reading herself. 10 years ago, she bought her first Audible book. It was love at first listen! An average of 250 audiobooks per year has become the new normal and you will rarely see Eline without a wireless earbud. Romance and Fantasy are the go-to genres for this audiobook fan.