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Get More Rereading Into Your Life With Audiobooks

Rebecca Hussey


Rebecca holds a PhD in English and is a professor at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. She teaches courses in composition, literature, and the arts. When she’s not reading or grading papers, she’s hanging out with her husband and son and/or riding her bike and/or buying books. She can't get enough of reading and writing about books, so she writes the bookish newsletter "Reading Indie," focusing on small press books and translations. Newsletter: Reading Indie Twitter: @ofbooksandbikes

You may be like me and feel pulled between the desire to reread old favorites and the longing to read the latest, hottest new book that everyone is talking about. I think about some of my favorite books longingly, remembering how much I adored them, how happy and excited they made me feel. I think about how great it would be to reread them and relive that experience. And then in the end I feel overwhelmed by the number of books out there I haven’t read, and I pick up the new release or the older book I feel like I absolutely have to get to.

Have you wanted to become a rereader of books? One solution? Try rereading with audiobooks. Here's how! audiobooks | rereading | reading habits | how to use audiobooks | bookish habits

If you have this problem, you might try rereading your favorites on audio. Here are some reasons I think audiobooks are a fabulous way to get more rereading into your life:

  • Audiobooks are an easy way to do more rereading while still leaving time for books you haven’t read before. For me, audiobooks are extra reading. I listen to them during the times I can’t pick up a print book or my kindle—during my commute, while washing the dishes, etc.—and while that reading is absolutely real and important, it feels like bonus time. When I reread on audio, I feel like I’m sneaking rereading in while still leaving plenty of time for new books. I can have the best of both worlds—the new and the old all at once.
  • The audio format can make familiar books new again. Audiobooks allow you to reread a book while at the same time you are having an entirely new experience with it. I love audiobooks because the narrator becomes an essential part of the book: a good reader brings the book to life and becomes almost like a character. I am much more likely to laugh or cry when I’m listening on audio than I am while reading a page. I start to feel like the audiobook narrator is a companion, almost a friend. You don’t have to worry that rereading will bore you because rereading on audio is an entirely different thing even though you are encountering the exact same words as you did when you read it the first time.
  • If you are rereading on audio, you don’t have to worry as much about missing some of it. Many, if not all, audiobook listeners have had the experience of trying to focus on an audiobook but having their mind wander, or getting distracted by a rude driver, or thinking too hard about whose socks belong to whom while folding laundry. It’s easy to miss a few seconds, or a minute, or even a couple minutes. You can always stop and go back, but if you are rereading, you may feel that you don’t have to. You have a sense of what you missed. You don’t have to worry about accidentally missing a crucial plot point or descriptive detail because you already know the plot.
  • Rereading on audio will let you pick up on things you missed the first time. When first reading a novel, it’s easy to get caught up in plot and rush through it to find out how it ends. Rereading on audio gets you to read more slowly, or at least at a steady pace, so you are likely to get new insights into the book. You can also focus more on the quality of the language on a reread, or the details of characterization, since you already know how the book ends.
  • Audiobooks are a great way to reread classics. Maybe there are classics you read in high school or college and you want to return to to see how they hold up. Or, perhaps, there are books you read for fun many decades ago and you are curious to see if your opinion on them has changed. Listening on audio can bring you back to the first experience of reading these books while making the rereading feel a little less like work.

    One of my fondest memories of listening to audiobooks was the year I had a super-long commute, 1 1/2 hours each way, and I reread all of Jane Austen’s novels on audio. I loved it. The books were familiar to me so I could let my mind wander occasionally without losing the thread of the story. I could hear the dialogue with actual British accents, instead of fake accents in my head. I felt like Austen’s amusing, satirical narrators were with me in the car, keeping me company. I felt the emotions of the novels more strongly. It made me love a favorite author even more.

    Yes, it’s easy to feel that I should be reading new authors and new titles even in my audiobook reading, but every time I give rereading on audio a try, I’m glad I did.