Starter Kit for Listening to Audiobooks

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Get started with reading audiobooks with these comfortable tools that make the experience even better.

A pair of over the ear headphones and an iPhone with an audiobook cover on the screen.

Over the last decade of hosting the Peanut Blossom Book Club for Recovering Readers, I’ve heard versions of this comment time and time again:

“I tried listening to an audiobook and just couldn’t do it.”

It can be challenging to move from paper books to audiobooks for the first time. Listening to an audiobook sounds easier than it is if you have an attention that wanders like mine does.

After lots of trial and error over the last 10 years, I’ve finally learned that the key to a great first audiobook experience is having the right tools for your lifestyle. What works for someone else may or may not work for you.

These are the tools that helped me to learn to love audiobook listening and make it a regular part of my reading life.

I also polled my husband and younger daughter, both avid audiobook listeners, to see what works best for them. We hope this helps you find your perfect match, too!

Jump to:

The Best Audiobooks for Beginners

If you’re new to audiobook listening, you really need to start with a good book. Not all books work best in this particular format, especially if listening is a skill you haven’t sharpened yet.

I personally started with several non-fiction biographies narrated by the author. The narrator can truly make or break the audiobook experience.

Start with this list of best audiobooks for your first listen if you want to listen to a book for yourself.

I love to listen while driving and this list of funny audiobooks for road trips (warning, NOT kid-friendly) or mystery audiobooks for road trips would be great choices, too.

If you’re interested in listening with the kids, you’ll enjoy this list of audiobooks for families or this list of audiobooks for family road trips.

Try Audible Plus

Both my husband and I have been Audible members for more than a decade. We love that we can maintain our own libraries of books but we can also share as a family. So if I really love something, he has access to it, too.

Once you buy an Audible book with your monthly credit or with cash, it is part of your library for life. Even if you don’t have a currently active membership. So you can try it out and if you decide it’s not for you, spend your remaining credits and cancel. You can work your way through the books on your own timeline.

If you’re a new Audible customer, you can get up to two free books with a new membership, too. Sign up for your new Audible membership here.

For Your Ears

The right headphones can make or break your audiobook experience. Consider when you’ll listen and choose the right match for you.

For me, I need comfortable over the ear headphones because I have tiny ear canals. I have a special pair for wearing at home or on slow walks and another more sweat-proof pair for exercising at the gym.

My husband and daughter both swear by ear buds for their portable convenience.

Comfortable Headphones (Splurge)

My husband gave me a set of these amazing over-the-ear, noise-cancelling headphones for Mother’s Day in 2020 when suddenly the whole family was home all the time and I couldn’t hear myself think.

They are super comfortable to wear around the house while doing chores and listening to an audiobook but I also love to wear them on walks and out in public.

They worked especially well on an international flight when I wanted to get some sleep on the plane. I easily listened to my book to relax before nodding off.

Get your headphones here:
Black | Silver

Comfortable Headphones (Budget)

If you just want to try out listening to audiobooks to see if this lifestyle works for you, maybe start with a budget-friendly pair of headphones.

The important details to note include:

  • Wireless
  • Lightweight
  • Foldable: So you can stash them in a bag or purse.
  • Long Battery Life

This pair of headphones fits the bill perfectly AND comes in some fun colors.

Get your headphones here:
Black | White | Aqua | Pink | Orange

Comfortable Ear Buds (Splurge)

My husband loves his Apple AirPods and always has them nearby.

He’s an active runner and does a lot of work outdoors in our yard in the intense Southern summer heat and these ear buds have kept up completely sweat-proof through it all.

If you want a more discreet way to listen to audiobooks, these would be an excellent choice for most activities:

Get your Apple AirPods here.

Consider a Reading Device

Two Kindle devices are on a table next to a stack of books and a vase of flowers.

If you’re moving from paper books to audiobooks, you may want to check out a Kindle reader because it has the option to listen to audiobooks directly from the device.

I first got started listening to audiobooks using Amazon’s Whispersync feature that let me read the Kindle book and then pick up the audiobook wherever I left off and vice versa.

I could read quietly in bed at night and then listen to an audiobook while washing dishes or running errands in my car. It’s the best of both worlds!

BONUS: When I read on my Kindle, I can hear the audiobook narrator’s voice in my head. Especially with books featuring strong accents like the Outlander series.

AND, by tag-teaming my reading with a Kindle book and an audiobook, I got through really long books even faster. (Looking at you, Outlander!)

Kindle Oasis (Splurge)

A Kindle Oasis sits on a table next to a stack of paper books.

My Kindle Oasis was a Christmas gift from my family several years ago and I still use it daily.

The screen size is bigger, the device is easier to hold, and I love the position of the buttons for turning pages.

Get your Kindle Oasis here.

Kindle Paperwhite (Budget)

A Kindle Paperwhite sits on a table next to a stack of books.

If you’re not ready to leap in with both feet, the Kindle Paperwhite is also an amazing option and more budget-friendly than the Oasis.

This was my first Kindle and I appreciated the glare-free screen that made reading so much easier outdoors.

This is a purse-friendly size, you can always keep your book in your bag as you’re out and on the go.

Get your Kindle Paperwhite here.

Consider a Reading Speaker

I actually love to listen to audiobooks with my family on road trips. When my kids were younger, I would play audiobooks on speakers at home while they played quietly with toys or did a craft project.

Listening to a few minutes of an audiobook while you enjoy family dinner could be a great way to bond with your family, too.

If you think you’d enjoy listening with someone else at the same time, consider one of these audiobook friendly speakers:

Kindle Echo Dot (Budget)

If you’re not ready to leap in with both feet, the Kindle Paperwhite is also an amazing option and more budget-friendly than the Oasis.

This was my first Kindle and I appreciated the glare-free screen that made reading so much easier outdoors.

This is a purse-friendly size, you can always keep your book in your bag as you’re out and on the go.

Get your Kindle Echo here.

Sonos Speaker (Splurge)

I bought this amazing speaker for my husband for Father’s Day one year but the kids and I ended up stealing it from him during our homeschool era when we wanted music and audiobook listening during the day.

You can pair more than one for surround sound listening and the quality is simply fantastic for such a small speaker.

If your family enjoys listening to music and audiobooks, this would be a great choice.

Get your Sonos speaker here.

A photo collage shows a pair of headphones with an iPhone listening to an audiobook next to a Kindle reader.

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