What Does Your Audiobook Speed Say About You?
Happy summer, Cape Girardeau! We are just about a third of the way through our summer reading program this year - 3 weeks! Can you believe it? A question I often get asked when patrons in the community come to sign up for our summer reading program is “Do audiobooks count as reading?”. And I always answer enthusiastically that they do!
June is Audiobook Appreciation Month. Though not the only non-traditional form of reading, audiobooks have made reading more accessible to a great number of people from the visually impaired to those with learning disabilities . And being a conveniently transportable format, reading on the go has become so much easier as well. I listen to them in the car as I run errands, but I have also been known to pop in my headphones and listen to Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas while on a nature hike deep in the woods. Honestly, audiobooks are game changers that have seriously helped my reading goals over the past few years.
So what about reading or listening speeds? There has been a lot of talk the past few months about reading speeds, what the perfect speed is, and what these settings mean. Scientific studies are even being conducted to see what impact these different speeds have both critically and cognitively when it comes to reading and comprehension.
But I am not a scientist, so here are some fun interpretations on reading speeds and what I think they say about us as audiobook readers. Interested in testing it out? I have included some reading recommendations that I think would be fun for each speed group. Feel free to give them a listen, or find something else that catches your interest. Bear with me, this might be a longer one!
These readers like to be in the moment of the story as it is being presented to them. They are comfortable focusing at conversational speeds and don’t feel pressured or rushed to consume content. Most of the people that I have talked to that read at this speed tend to listen to the fiction best sellers.
Recommendations: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Fiction); The Wager by David Grann
These are the readers that want to be in the moment of the story as the narrator tells it, but tend to have trouble focusing at too slow of a speaking rate. Normal levels are doable, but the sweet spot to keep their attention is just a little faster than that at 1.2-1.3 speeds. Those of us that feel the constant need to consume media can listen at a 1.5, but anything faster than that and we are back to being unable to focus on the content. These readers tend to have a wide range of reading taste, but tend to read more of their favorite genres rather than branching out more.
Recommendations: Fairy Tale by Stephen King (Fiction); When Women Ruled the World: 6 Queens of Egypt by Kara Cooney
These are our go-getters, our multitaskers who -in order to keep up with the constant overhaul of media and information have adapted to a higher listening speed. These are our organized creative types. They are our designers, marketers, public relations managers, etc. These readers have a critical eye for presentation and a brain that can keep up with the challenges and changes the world presents.
Recommendations: Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins (Fiction); River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by Candice Millard
These are our readers who have a difficult time focusing at the normal rate of narration. Faster audiobook speeds force their brains to focus so they don’t miss a single detail. Because of this, these readers need books to capture their attention quickly and keep that hold until the end. Slow narration could kill a book for them. Because of their reading speed, they typically have a wide breadth of understanding and knowledge about books (especially what is new, fun, and maybe even a little out there).
Recommendations: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Fiction); Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions From Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty
Varied Speeds (from 0.9 to 1.0 to 1.5):
The readers with varying levels of reading speed probably have the most variables in play when it comes to choosing and sticking with an audiobook narrator, author, story, and/or speed. How a narrator reads might increase or decrease the speed of a book. A slow narrator might need to be sped up while a fast narrator would need to be slowed down some. It's a similar issue with plot pacing (I am guilty of speeding up my books if they feel too slow and then bringing them back down once it picks up again). These readers do enjoy fiction, but tend to read more NF, focusing a lot of time on biographies. Biographies are often read by their authors who may or may not have experience with reading out loud for audiobooks. This is why the speeds change consistently depending on what a person might be listening to at the time.
Recommendations: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (Biography); Taste: My Life Through Food (Biography) by Stanley Tucci
Check out a few of the featured items below for some of my most recent favorites on audio!
From the magical moments on set as Draco Malfoy to the challenges of growing up in the spotlight, get a backstage pass into Tom Felton's life on and off the big screen. Tom Felton's adolescence was anything but ordinary. His early rise to fame in beloved films like The Borrowers catapulted him into the limelight, but nothing could prepare him for what was to come after he landed the iconic role of the Draco Malfoy, the bleached blonde villain of the Harry Potter movies. For the next ten years, he was at the center of a huge pop culture phenomenon and yet, in between filming, he would go back to being a normal teenager trying to fit into a normal school. Speaking with great candor and his signature humor, Tom shares his experience growing up as part of the wizarding world while also trying to navigate the muggle world. -catalog descripton
Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike-particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens. Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana's niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge. Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld? When another body is found, Mariana's obsession with proving Fosca's guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything-including her own life"-- catalog description
Tricia Levenseller, author of Daughter of the Pirate King, is back with an epic YA tale of ambition and love in The Shadows Between Us..."They've never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart. And they never will." Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power: 1) Woo the Shadow King.2) Marry him.3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself. No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King's power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she's going to do everything within her power to get it. But Alessandra's not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?" - catalog description
"New York Times bestselling author Grady Hendrix takes on the haunted house in a hilarious and terrifying new novel that explores the way your past-and your family-can haunt you like nothing else.... Louise's parents have passed away, and she's returning to the small Southern town where she grew up to get their house ready to sell. It means she'll have to spend time with her younger brother-and their old grudges make that a terrifying prospect. But childhood hurts pale in comparison to the dangers posed by what still lives inside the house"--catalog description