I'm ashamed to admit it, but I used to look down on audiobooks. In my family growing up, audiobooks (or as we referred to them, books-on-tape) were the mysteries or classics that were family-friendly enough to listen to on road trips. But beyond that, I was a bit of snob, thinking that you couldn't really appreciate a book unless you read it on the printed page. Thankfully, now I've changed my tune. While I still read more paper books than those I absorb through my earbuds, there are some titles that I firmly believe are better when you listen to them. Yes, there's definitely a theme here (celebs!), but there are a couple of other genres that lend themselves particularly well to reading with your ears.
I'm a huge fan of Aziz Ansari, so when I heard about his book—a thoroughly researched look at dating in the modern world—I knew it was on my must-read list. The fastest way for me to get it from the library was via audiobook, so I took a chance. It absolutely paid off. No, I wasn't able to see the handful of graphics in the book, but that was all balanced out by the gentle harassment from Aziz about being too lazy to read the paper book. That, and the voices he does when sharing feedback from interview subjects made for a great listening experience.
I might not be the most dedicated viewer of Shondaland programs, but after listening to her read her book about making changes and saying yes to absolutely everything for an entire year, you can consider me a Shonda Rhimes devotee. Of course, now that I've heard such personal stories of struggle and triumph in her own voice, if I'm ever lucky enough to meet Shonda in person, I'm going to have to remember that she is not actually one of my dearest friends, and that she was brave enough to share all of those stories with the whole world.
I actually read Yes Please and Tina Fey's Bossypants in hardcover before deciding to listen to them on audiobook. And boy am I glad that I ended up re-reading them via my headphones. When it came to other funny gal memoirs, I learned my lesson and actively sought out Rachel Dratch's A Girl Walks Into a Bar and Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me?on audiobook. There's something about hearing their trials, tribulations, and triumphs in their own voices that made them even more hilarious and enjoyable. Dear Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon, I'm eagerly awaiting the chance to listen to your books as well.
Taking a turn from the celeb memoir, I'm a bit of a secret self-help junkie. Sprinkled through my to-read list, you'll find plenty of titles on self-improvement. But I last year I decided (as a typical Type A, multi-tasker) that the best way to read a self-help book is as an MP3 on my iPhone. That way I can clean my apartment, run my errands, and go to the laundromat while I learn ways to be better. Does this make me a little bit insufferable? Probably. But it also insures that I'll never be caught reading self-help on the subway. To that end, Arianna Huffington's Thrive was the perfect book to listen to. It was inspiring to hear a successful woman's words about needing to redefine how we measure success.
This book falls into a bit of a different category—one that I wish I'd listened to on audiobook. It's a deep dive into every aspect of walking you could possibly imagine. Of course, I found the chapters on the politics of walking while female to be fascinating. But in the end the main reason I wish that I'd listened to this as an audiobook was that it just felt criminal to sit on the couch and read a book about walking. I'd much rather be out walking around in a park or through the streets of New York while learning about what walking means to our society.