Credit: Oscar Ivan Esquivel Arteaga via Unsplash

Are audiobooks a good alternative during the academic year?

By Rebecca Richard

Health & Wellbeing Editor Rebecca Richard talks us through why she’ll be listening to her books this semester.

I’ve fallen asleep to some variation of an audiobook for my whole life. Whether it was my parents reading me chapters of The Chronicles of Narnia when I was little, or Jim Dale’s narration of every Harry Potter book playing on my iPod Nano. I can’t sleep in silence; my mind uses the quiet and darkness to go into overdrive instead of switching off. I have audiobooks to thank for being able to distract my over-active mind and allowing me the much-needed rest and relaxation to get me through my school years. Audiobooks hold great nostalgia for me; hearing the upbeat orchestral opening tunes at the start of Enid Blyton’s children’s classics felt like a warm hug every time they played.

I find it very difficult to read for pleasure during the academic year. The last thing I want to do after spending all day on academic papers and essays, is read anything else, no matter what lovely pieces of literature lie in my to-be-read pile. The beauty of audiobooks is that they allow us to consume a novel whilst getting other things done. In a post-lockdown world, we have so many commitments we aren’t used to working around after 18 months of restrictions. I want to go to the gym, I have classes, society meetings, coffee dates and nights out planned; the list of newfound social freedoms goes on. Although it doesn’t often fit into my schedule, I love to read and really crave the escapism of fiction. I love being able to pop my headphones on whilst on the train to meet a friend, at the gym or while making dinner and lose myself in a good story whilst also fitting in my other commitments. The best thing is, I don’t need to have several books weighing me down if I change my mind about what story I want whilst on the go; I have multiple available right at my fingertips.

“The last thing I want to do after spending all day on academic papers and essays, is read anything else…”

I often find audiobooks to be even more immersive than a book. Some very well produced ones have sound effects, such as crunching snow or tweeting birds, which my imagination just can’t conjure up in the same way, no matter how great a book is. Others have different voice actors for each character or ambient string arrangements accompanying the dialogue. Aside from the aesthetics of audiobooks, they can be incredibly useful for people who struggle with reading. Readers can enjoy the plot and the characters rather than decoding the words on the page.

You don’t need to scramble to find any influencers’ Audible app discount codes to enjoy some good audiobooks (although it is definitely worth the £7.99 per month with its free monthly book credit). There are hundreds on YouTube, such as TikTok acclaimed The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Spotify also provides access to a whole host of audiobooks, including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby or Francis Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.

If physical reading doesn’t tend to lend itself to your busy schedule, I thoroughly recommend giving audiobooks a chance. Reading should be enjoyable, not a chore we feel pressured to fit into our lives, since we simply can’t always find the time to give our undivided attention to a book. Audiobooks give us the freedom to enjoy literature on our own terms, and I for one, am here for that.


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