By Angela

Audio Books – Techniques for a Positive Experience

Since I am not able to successfully or enjoyably listen to and remember audio books, I have broken down my goals into smaller pieces. My new goals are: 1) to listen to an entire book on CD with decreased occurrence of migraines from doing so, 2) to experience enjoyment from books, 3) to be okay with remembering whatever information I can, and 4) to be able to tell someone else if I like the book or not without having to come up with complex insights about why (i.e., I like the book because a many of the situations caused me to laugh a lot, I didn’t like it because I cried at the end).

Here are some strategies which have helped me attain my goals:

1) Listen to audio books who are done by readers who talk at a slower, more relaxed pace, if and when possible. My brain injury impacts the speed at which I process things. allows you to listen to part of book. This allows me to make a decision about whether I listen to this audio book. If the reader talks too fast, I become doubly frustrated and lose out on my enjoyment of the experience.

2) Listen to books that are very long. This helps me be less compulsive about playing a CD over and over until I remember and understand what is happening. When an audio book is 40 hours long, I am less likely to play a CD over and over. There are simply TOO MANY!

3) Listen to books I have already read before or have seen as a movie. If I have a sense of what the story is about and how it progresses, I can relax better and just focus on listening and enjoying the story, rather than worrying about what I have missed, misunderstood or don’t remember.

4) Listen to books that have sequels. When listening to books that have sequels, I know that some information from the previous book will be repeated. Once again, this helps me stop worrying about what I missed in the last book.

Here are examples of some of the audio books I have enjoyed:

The Clan of the Cave Bear (unabridged), by Jean Auel. 19 hrs. 36 min. (Earth’s Children, Book 1)

The Valley of Horses (unabridged), by Jean Auel. 21 hrs. 46 min. (Earth’s Children, Book 2)

These are part of Auel’s Earth’s Children series which takes place in prehistoric Europe. The stories would probably be classified as anthropological/historical fiction.

I had read these as books and enjoyed them prior to my brain injury. When I first heard the reader’s voice, I wanted to scream in frustration. She reads at a pace that is much too fast for me. I decided to stick with it and challenge myself to listening to someone read at a pretty fast pace.


Before Green Gables: A Novel (unabridged), by Budge Wilson. 13 hrs. 55 min.

I had read the Anne of Green Gables books to my daughters when they were young, and had also watched the movies. When this “pre-quel came out, I was very curious. It was very well done and well read. I’m thinking about listening to the Anne of Green Gables series at some point in time, however, there are several different readers. To make a good choice, I will be sure to listen to excerpts from the book to see which reader is most compatible to my needs.


Outlander (unabridged), by Diana Gabaldon. 32 hrs. 42 min. (First book in the series)

Dragonfly in Amber (unabridged), by Diana Gabaldon. 38 hrs. 58 min. (Second book in the series)

Voyager (unabridged), by Diana Gabaldon. 43 hrs. 19 min. (Third book in the series)

Drums of Autumn (unabridged), by Diana Gabaldon 44 hrs. 46 min. (Fourth book in the series)

I absolutely LOVE Gabaldon’s Outlander series. One would think I would be sick of these stories, particularly with as long as they are. But I honestly can’t get enough. This story is a combination of romantic, historical and science fiction all rolled up into one. The main characters are Jamie Fraser, who lives in 18th century Scotland, and Claire Randall, who lives in 20th century Scotland. Claire is suddenly thrust from 1940 to 1740 when she accidentally gets caught up in time travel. Here she falls in love with Jamie Fraser. The Scottish accent of the reader, has a slow, laid back quality which makes it much easier and enjoyable for me to listen.

Although there are more books in the series, does not currently carry the later books in the unabridged version. There is also a different reader with whom listeners do not like as well, according to the reviews. This is a good reminder to listen to the excerpts before purchasing the audio book. For the listener with a brain injury, this may be a critical step since you will have a sense if the reader’s voice is pleasing and easy to follow.


I really like using If finances are tight, tell your family or friends a subscription to this would make a wonderful gift. A free alternative would be to request audio books from your local library, or you may qualify for audio materials made available through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).

© Angela Cramer, 2008


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