This post is sponsored by BookBeat. For £12.90 per month, BookBeat gives listeners unlimited access to thousands of audiobooks, which they can access whenever they like, through their phone.
Stories on the go
Yesterday, I cooked dinner with Jeremy Irons breathing the wise words of Paulo Coelho, from The Alchemist, into my ear. Then when I went for a jog around the local streets, I switched to Gail Honeyman’s new best-seller, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. The funny, lively book was just the thing to take my mind off the groan of my muscles. Later today, I’m planning on catching up with Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things, narrated by the author herself, as background prep for our next book group get-together, where we’ll be discussing Roy’s new novel.
It’s easy to shunt books out of a busy lifestyle. To properly immerse yourself in a story, you need time to sit down, forget the clearing-up after dinner, and the prepping of PE kits and homework for the next school day. That’s rare, in our house. Audiobooks can help with snatching back a bit of time to properly immerse yourself in a good read.
It seems that lots of people have arrived at the same conclusion. Audiobook sales have shot up in the UK, with a 25% increase in the first half of 2017. With big-budget narrators and a vast choice of titles, audiobooks can be great companions on all those moments when your mind has time to wander: when doing the housework, gardening, commuting….the list goes on.
‘Netflix for audiobooks’
BookBeat is one of the market leaders in audiobooks, and is part of the Bonnier Group, a media group that started over 200 years ago as a small family bookstore. Books have always been part of the group’s history. Now Bonnier includes 175 companies operating in 15 countries, across all different media including film, TV, radio, publishing and digital platforms. When it comes to books and entertainment, they know their stuff.
Den of Geek described BookBeat as being like ‘Netflix for audiobooks’. With thousands of books to choose from and unlimited downloads, it’s perfect for hardcore bookworms. Although it doesn’t include absolutely every title under the sun – we’ll still be digging out our old CDs to listen to Roald Dahl’s back catalogue, for example – BookBeat has a great range, including new releases and classics. For £12.90 a month, you can stream books via your data or wifi, and also download audiobooks and save them to your library – so you’re able to listen even when you don’t have access to wifi. Once you’ve signed up, you can cancel your subscription at any time by logging into your account.
We’ve been testing out BookBeat for the past few weeks. For a clan of book-lovers like ours, it works well. The unlimited downloads mean that every member of the family gets to choose titles they like. You can use one subscription across up to five devices, so long as everyone’s not listening at once (you cant have more than one person using the account at the same time). So there’s no need for squabbling over Mum’s phone to listen to a story.
My eight-year-old son, in particular, has enjoyed listening to stories on Wednesday evenings, while his little sister is in her swimming lesson. I try not to let him play mindless games for the half hour when he’s sat with me at the poolside, and BookBeat’s helped keep him happy. First of all he dipped into two David Walliams titles: Mr Stink and Billionaire Boy. While he loved the film adaptations of these stories, the books themselves didn’t grab him, so instead he settled into David Baddiel’s AniMalcolm. BookBeat’s unlimited listening let him chop and change easily, and experiment with new titles.
Audiobooks make great travel companions. We’re often on the road, whether that’s car journeys, airline trips or hopping across to France on the ferry. In the future I can see us loading our devices up with titles at the same time as packing our suitcases. As you don’t need wifi to listen to BookBeat downloads, it’ll be easier to keep the children happy with stories on long journeys.
Our family’s top audiobook picks
So, after scrolling through the thousands of titles available through BookBeat, here’s what we’ve chosen to listen to. What do you think?
Me: We Should all be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is an eloquent argument by the author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun. It’s adapted from Adichie’s TED talk of the same name, and describes her experience of sexism – and explains why everyone needs to be a feminist, for the good of society.
D: I Think You’ll Find it’s a Bit More Complicated Than That, Ben Goldacre
A collection of Goldacre’s columns for the Guardian, this audiobook offers bite-sized essays on science, ethics and statistics. Perfect for those with inquiring minds, Goldacre elegantly debunks and calls into question a lot of the myths that people often take for granted.
Austin (nearly eight): AniMalcolm, David Baddiel
This book is a funny romp. A boy who dislikes animals finds himself getting a little more aquainted with our furry and feathered friends than he anticipated. My son’s been glued to his earbuds with this title. He’s even asked to listen to the audiobook rather than have his bedtime story from me and D – something previously unheard of.
Gwen (aged five): Paddington, Michael Bond
At Gwen’s recent school learning meeting, the teachers recommended audiobooks as one of the ways to help children learn to read. Listening to a narrator, while looking at the words in a book, can help make a connection between the sounds, and what’s on the page. We’re yet to buy a physical copy of Michael Bond’s enduring classic to try this out, but Paddington has been our daughter’s story of choice from the BookBeat collection.
Do you like listening to audiobooks?
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