How to make housework fun with Audible: part 1

Mt Cook
Living here, I have better things to do than housework.

Thanks so much to everyone who said how much they liked my last post, How I believe I spend my day vs how I actually spend my day. If you’d like to write your own blog post documenting your self deception I would love to read it, and if you point me to it I’ll add a link in my post.

I mentioned recently that I was considering giving audiobooks a try. Actually I said I was going to try them this month, so I’d better get on with it, despite my reservations about awful American accents.

How to listen

Audiobooks aren’t going to do me a lot of good if I can’t listen to them, so my first step is to figure out how to do that.

I read ebooks on a really old kindle, so that’s the place to start. I examine my kindle and don’t find anywhere earphones can plug in. Not surprising, considering it was probably manufactured before mankind discovered sound.

The Audible website tells me I can also use an iPhone or iPad Touch (don’t have one), Windows phone (don’t have one), kindle (see above), fire tablet (don’t have one), Amazon echo (what is all this weird technology?), Android (don’t have one), iPad (don’t have one), Windows tablet (don’t have one), through streaming (sounds too complicated), via download onto a computer (but I don’t want to carry my computer in my pocket while I do housework), or on an mp3 device. That’s the one! (Assuming I can make it work.)

I found my “mp3 device”. It was in one of the cat’s boxes, and the battery had been flat for some time (months, possibly a year or more). Because I’m good at planning, this morning I plugged it in to charge up. Yay me!

The website tells me I have to install AudibleManager. The button is orange and scary, but let’s click  it and see what happens. Instructions appear. Oh dear, it sounds complicated.

Yea, I’m not going to do that.

In fact, I can’t do that because I’m on a Mac and AudibleManager only comes as an exe. I’m going to try the other thing: download an audiobook, which will hopefully appear in iTunes, and see if I can move it to my mp3 player from there. Which is the only thing you can do on a Mac (I mean, other than write books and look at cat gifs, of course).

How to pay for an audiobook

The first thing I notice when I get to Amazon is that audiobooks are really expensive. For example, “Dawn of Wonder” costs $41.34. It’s also 29 hours 36 minutes long. To be fair, that’s only $1.40 an hour, which is cheaper than a movie.

And it lasts longer than a day. I’m thinking audiobook marathon! (Though I’m sure that won’t involve housework.)

But just paying for the audiobook itself isn’t my only option. It’s free if I join Audible, which itself is free for the first month and then $15 a month. It’s not clear what you get for that $15 a month. More audiobooks, I’m guessing. You can unsubscribe at any time, but signing up to things is against my religion because I tend to forget what I’ve signed up and never take advantage of it.

There’s a third option. If I buy the kindle version ($5.78) then I can add audible narration for $4.01. Arithmetic was never my strength, but that’s about $10. So unless I’m misunderstanding, I can get the book and audible narration for $10, or the audible narration alone for $40.

$40 is more than $10, and you get less.

(Looks left and right, wonders if whoever came up with this pricing is worse at arithmetic than me.)

$10 for 30 hours of entertainment is only about 30c an hour. That’s much cheaper than a movie. We have a winner.

Choosing an audiobook

Now comes the fun part: choosing what book to get. My experience with this audiobook is likely to determine whether I ever listen to another, so you can see there’s a lot riding on it.

I head to Amazon audiobooks, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy. (There are only three subcategories of fantasy, which seems rather limiting.) Looking at the first page, most of the books are from the Wheel of Time series. Not that I object to them, but they’re a bit much of a commitment for my first audiobook.

I found Wizard’s First Rule! I love this book. I’m so not listening to it, or I’ll never be able to read it again without having the narrator hanging out in my head.

And Watership Down. I haven’t read this book in years. Okay, decades. I thought it was really scary. Nope, I’m not going to ruin Watership Down with a narrator’s voice either.

It’s time to get serious about this. Here are my requirements:

  1. Not a book I already love.
  2. If it’s in a series I haven’t read it has to be the first book. Reading a series out of order is more painful and soul-destroying than ironing your underwear while you’re wearing them.
  3. The cover can’t be hideous or cartoonish. Sorry, but it can’t.
  4. The blurb has to at least vaguely interest me.
  5. The writing in the first few pages can’t be awkward.
  6. Most importantly–and this doesn’t come up with ebooks–the narrator’s voice and accent have to not make me scream.

I’ve opened a bunch of potentials. Off to take a look and a listen. In the first two pages of results I found eight books to look at. A lot more failed requirement number 2, and a couple failed 3.

Book 1: I’d almost buy this book for the cover alone. It’s just so pretty! But the narrator has such a piercing voice I’m not sure how much I can listen to.

Book 2: The cover of this book is less inspiring, but I like the narrator’s tone. He has a deep voice that’s easy to listen to. Unfortunately he doesn’t enunciate very clearly and I have to concentrate to pick up the words.

Book 3: The cover is boring, and the narrator is way too excited. (Maybe it’s a compensation mechanism.) OMG, it’s a bird! OMG, a cloud blew across the sun! OMG, the wind is cold! Take a pill and calm the truck down.

Book 4: I like the cover, which has a pretty tree on it, but the excerpt was soporific.

Even an oak tree can't save this audiobook.
Even an oak tree can’t save this audiobook.

Book 5: I like the narrator’s voice, but the book’s written in first person. In case I’ve ranted about this before, I’ll give you the short version: sorry, nope.

Book 6: I can’t make the sample play, and the cover looks tacky anyway.

Book 7: The narrator isn’t bad to listen to, and the cover looks cool, but it’s only 12 hours long. I know this is still half a day, but the other one was 28 hours. A definite maybe.

Book 8: This book is long, and a few minutes of narration show why. The phrase “lack of editing” comes to mind. Perhaps some people enjoy reading pages and pages that basically say “the wind blew through the forest”, but I have other things to do, like plan world domination.

I’m not happy yet, so I open a few more.

Book 9: First female narrator! I didn’t like her voice.

Book 10: I couldn’t listen to much of this one. Melodramatic narration, much?

Book 11: The narrator has a pleasant voice, but the way she acts the characters’ speech is too overdone for my taste. Just because you can put on weird voices that barely sound like speech, doesn’t mean you should.

Book 12: I want to love this book because the cover is SO FREAKING PRETTY. But I don’t.

This has gone on for way too long. As I said, I have world domination to attend to. I tried to listen to the full sample of book 2 (which seemed less mumbly as it went along), but I zoned out half way through, which I don’t consider a great sign.

I’m going to buy book 7, Fireblood by Jeff Wheeler, because the narrator is nice to listen to, and the first few pages seemed well written. The kindle version is $6.31 and I can add audible for $2.29. I guess it’s cheaper because it’s only 12 and a half hours, but it’s part of a trilogy, so if I like it there are more.

Let’s do this!

And then comes the problem

The only difficulty is that I can’t listen to the audiobook on my mp3 player.

I could if my laptop were a PC or my mp3 player were an i-anything, but because I have the lack of foresight to have a Mac for my laptop and a something else for my mp3 player, I’m in trouble.

Google comes to the rescue and provides me with what it assures me is a totally legal solution that costs $40 if I want to listen to more than the first three minutes of my audiobook. (Hint: I do.) Unfortunately their clever fixit also hasn’t worked since the last iTunes update.

The development team assure me they’re working on a fix. So I wait.

Another week with no housework getting done. Well, you can’t say I didn’t try.

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Bunny don't want to audiobook. Or to do housework.
I am more put out than this bunny.

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

22 thoughts on “How to make housework fun with Audible: part 1”

  1. You are inspiring, Alecia. I hate housework, I like listening to books, but haven’t done that in years – since I used to drive long distances. That was in the Middle Ages when we borrowed books on tape at the library. Ha ha. I have an ipad and should be able to figure that out after a couple cocktails. Thanks!

    1. I remember books on tapes! They were annoying because I could never figure out which side was which.

      I’m happy to think something about me is inspiring, but I know it’s not my ability to do housework. 🙂

  2. For some reason I always think I’ll have a hard time following an audiobook, like my mind will wander if I’m not actively reading. I’m not sure why I think this. I used to listen when the teacher read stories in school after recess, and I had no trouble following the story. That was my favorite part of elementary school.

    I think the only time I ever got into an audiobook was years and years ago when I was working a job where I had to sit in my car all day. I got The Spy Who Came in from the Cold on cassettes from the library and listened to them on the car’s radio. (You can imagine how long ago this was. Lonnnggg before the discovery of sound, if we go by your timetable.) I loved the book, even loved the narrator and the way that he would ever so slightly adjust his voice for the different characters dialogue. It had a quirky charm to it.

    Not sure why my brain still thinks it has a problem with audiobooks, then. I might have to get up there and fiddle around with a few wires.

    1. I used to love having stories read to me at school too! Except once the teacher read us a scary story and it gave me horrible nightmares.

      I wonder if listening to stories is like having someone else brush your teeth. When you’re little it’s awesome having your parents brush your teeth, but then you learn to do it for yourself, and you can do it better, so when someone else does it it just feels weird. On the other hand, maybe not. 🙂

      1. No, that’s a good point. There is a hands-are-tied element to it, I suppose, like someone spoon-feeding you the story. You want to grab the spoon and go, “I got this. I GOT THIS!”

  3. I tried to listen to audiobooks several times, but I can’t focus. My mind wants to read it faster. I get frustrated. I used to have long commute and thought it would be a good use of my time, but ultimately I gave up. I tried a few times across the years with the same result. I thought maybe it would be like when I first read a book on a kindle. It felt awful, but I got used to it. Somehow, I never passed that first feeling with audiobooks.

    1. This is something I’ve worried about. I know with some setups you can play audio files faster (or slower) than their normal speed. I wonder if an audiobook would sound better played at 1.5x speed…

      1. I don’t know but I’m not sure it would sound great. I prefer listening to podcast. When I can’t read, I think it’s a good compromise for me. It’s more a conversation type, so I stay focused.

  4. “Take a pill and calm the truck down.” LOL!

    30 hours?!! Oh my. It’s hard for me to listen to audiobooks. I keep zoning out. I zone out while listening to podcasts, too, but they’re about an hour or less. The last time I remember listening to a book on tape and enjoying it was when I was like 7 and it was 10 minutes long and I followed along in the picture book. I’m 100% a technology person though. It’s always funny to read about people’s tech woes.

    1. Haha, don’t get me started on tech woes! WordPress was designed by the devil who wanted to punish anyone audacious enough to want to blog.

  5. I LOVE audiobooks! I listen to them on my commute, and when I’m playing computer games.

    My requirements are a little different – I’ve found that my concentration with audiobooks is much lower than when I’m reading (which I would guess is true for most humans, what with vision being our primary sense) so I tend to wander off in my thoughts and then realise I’ve missed a few minutes of audio. For that reason, I primarily buy books that I already know and love, where I can fill in the gap if I’ve missed a bit, or non-fiction, where it’s easier to pick up the thread.

    Some of my favourites (unfortunately I don’t go for much fantasy) are:

    – Perfume, Patrick Suskind
    – A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
    – Stephen Fry’s readings of Harry Potter
    – Life Expectancy, Dean Koontz
    – Chaos: Making a New Science, James Gleick
    – Hannibal, Thomas Harris
    – Infected, Scott Sigler

    1. Listening to books you already know is a cool idea, and thanks for the suggestions! Do you think it would work the same if *I* bought books that *you* already know and love? 😉 Though I am dying to hear what Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter sounds like.

  6. Beautiful opening photo! That makes me want to visit New Zealand! Wow!

    I still haven’t got on board with audiobooks but everyone tells me I’m missing out. Maybe it’s about time I joined the bandwagon. It seems like a better way to do things and read at the same time than what I’ve been doing. The other day I burned my pancakes trying to sneak in a few pages of The Obelisk Gate while I cooked. Oops!

    1. Haha. I’ve had a few cooking oopses too while trying to read too. Thankfully I’ve never burned the house down, but audiobooks do seem like they could be a good plan.

  7. Let me know what you think of the book if you ever manage to read or listen to it! I read THREE of Jeff Wheeler’s books and thought I liked him, but the third book (of a trilogy) was TERRIBLE. Poorly written and awkward. Poorly edited. Awful characterization. Unbelievable characters/actions by characters. Unconvincing emotions by those characters. It was very odd. I gave his first and second books 4 stars but I wanted to give that third book (which came out last year) only 2! I don’t remember how many I actually gave. I feel bad for saying all this now because now you might be looking for awful things in his writing! But like I said, it was super weird. Book one of that series was REALLY good. Maybe all his book ones are excellent 😉

  8. Such a funny post! 😀 Thanks for sharing your adventures in the audio world. But finding a book that’s fun, affordable, and decently narrated seems awfully time-consuming. I think I’ll keep doing my household the old-fashioned way, listening to the voices in my head.

    1. It is time-consuming! I spent most of last Saturday doing that, and still didn’t get to the point of being able to listen. At least I bought a book. I would have felt like a total failure if I hadn’t.

      Listening to the voice in your head sounds like a good alternative, but my voices don’t like housework and they whinge incessantly.

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