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Audiobooks: My Second-Best Friend This Side of 60

By Ann Marie Mershon November 06, 2019 Lifestyle

I love audiobooks. I’m an overcommitted woman who’s constantly on the move, either exercising or busy with home and community activities. I treasure literature and love to read, but there’s just NOT enough time. Hence, audiobooks. At least when I’m not with a friend.

I seem to need constant stimulation (maybe I’m ADHD – who knows?) and I know that my life feels richer with stories.

Years ago, when I was teaching overseas, my sister gave me an iPod. That gift was a godsend. I spent a lot of time walking my dog and sitting on public transportation, so listening to podcasts and audiobooks kept me sane.

Since moving back home, I have less free time than I had overseas, but my reliance on audiobooks has continued.

Best Times for Audiobooks

Here’s when I like to listen:

During Walks

My two-mile morning solo walk to meet neighbors offers a great audiobook window. It takes me about a half-hour to get there, then I “unhook” and enjoy their company for the next few miles of a social meander. Listening with a bonus of exercise!

Around the Kitchen

I have to admit, I don’t spend all that much time in the kitchen, but when I’m working on a long cook like soup or stew, a little story keeps both sides of my brain occupied through measuring, chopping, sautéing and stirring.

In the Yard

Yard work takes a lot of my time, especially my flower gardens. I love plugging into a story as I rake, pull weeds, plant, and deadhead my beloved flowers. I even mow occasionally, and then I use ear protectors with my earbuds neatly stuffed inside. And in the winter, I listen while shoveling.

When Cleaning

I’m the first to admit that I’m no ace housekeeper, but when I’m motivated to vacuum, Swiff, or dust the house, I hunt down my iPod to keep me company. I usually keep four or five books at the ready, just in case I don’t like one (occasionally it happens) or I’ve already read/listened to one.

When We Hit the Road

The last and probably most helpful role of audiobooks is when we’re on the road. My husband and I have two regular destinations (family visits and a second home), both of which are five hours away.

I’m not sure we’d still be married if it weren’t for audiobooks to keep us occupied on the road. In fact, we just finished a road trip out west with our dog, Jake, and we devoured six audiobooks along the way. After all those hours confined to a car, we still like each other.

Where and How to Get Audiobooks

If you’re reading this article, you’re enough computer savvy, but I’ll help you out a bit with information on downloading books.

First, you’ll need a smartphone or an iPod (or a similar listening device). Next, you can join an online site like (by Amazon) or, or sign up through your public library for free audiobooks.

My library system uses a free app called Libby, and they also offer a free software (Overdrive) that requires users to download books and then transfer them to a listening device (phone or iPod).

You can also download books directly to your smartphone but be aware that they’ll disappear if you don’t listen to them before they’re due.

I guess that’s the advantage of a site like, where you actually purchase a copy of the book. I like it that my iPod isn’t hooked to the Internet as this allows me to retain books longer.

I Do Have Favorites

What are my favorites? I prefer reading literary fiction rather than listening to it, as I like to leaf back and savor both language and story.

I generally choose mysteries and lighter fare for listening, though I’ve ranged through a variety of books over the years. Janet Evanovich’s mysteries are fun to listen to, although she’s not my husband’s favorite. We’ve both enjoyed mysteries by Louise Penny and Jacqueline Winspear.

Of course, there’s no writer as compelling as Ken Follet, and we both love listening to Jo Nesbo mysteries. A few recent favorite stand-alones are Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Oh, I could go on and on.

On average, I listen to a book a week, and I’m hard-pressed to read a book every few weeks. Audiobooks are a great way to get more literature under my belt.

Warning: Time with friends far surpasses audiobooks, at least in my book (pardon the pun). I recently took a long road trip with my best buddy Annie, and though we’d planned to listen to a book on the 20-hour round trip, it was impossible. We just had too much to talk about – 20 hours’ worth!

It’s only understandable that audible books are my SECOND best friend.

How often do you listen to books? Do you switch between reading and listening to books? Which genres or authors do you like listening to? Which are better to read? Please share with the community!

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The Author

A retired English teacher, Ann Marie Mershon lives on a lake in northern Minnesota with her husband, Jerry, and their two dogs. She’s published three books as well as numerous articles and columns. You can read about her years of teaching in Istanbul on her blog

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