Randomness : 5 Reasons Why I Can’t Listen to Audiobooks

This week alone, I have to submit and evaluate some essays on A Princess of Mars/Herland. In addition to that, I have a novelty project, some sugar boxes to make and night classes straight making some desserts for the college’s open house this Friday night. Honestly, the thought of it was tiring. I am lazy with required readings since it wasn’t my normal reads so I’m currently listening to Herland on audiobooks and…..

I found myself unequivocally.. HATE … listening to audiobooks.

I’d admit it, as a bookphiliac, I SHOULDN’T be this way but as much as people hated reading books on ereaders, I hated audiobooks.

But I have my reasons….

#1. I Can’t Concentrate

I tried to read audiobooks once in a while, just to get myself use to the idea. But fact remains, I can’t concentrate on it. I had no problem with listening comprehension examinations but I prefer reading words by words than listening by words.

I do notice people do like listening to audiobooks while driving or cooking. Although I am a multi-tasker,  but when I’m reading, I prefer to concentrate on it alone. If I listen to the audios, I prefer to not do anything to distract me and close my eyes and just listen. My mind actually does wander while reading. It form its own images and voices in my head that I can’t do unconscious things that require serious concentration like writing or driving or cooking. That is actually quite dangerous.

Plus, the audio would just sink into the background of my mind and became white noise. It does bothers me when…

#2. I Can’t Find Where I Left Off

If audiobooks are divided by chapters and within each chapters, there are like several pages and scenes, and suddenly I had other important thing to concentrate on (like kid’s fall down in front of me, my parents wanted me to do something or nature’s calling) and when I got back, the book have gone to far on the next scene that I had to restart again the mp3.

If you are in the middle of a half an hour audiobook, how can you find the exact moment where you left off?

#3. It’s Too Long and Too Slow

Since I can’t concentrate on listening alone, I usually read on the actual book as I listen but I find that audiobooks are generally slower than my reading rate. This make sense because it depended on the narrator’s pace. But I could finish a scene in probably several seconds while it took 2 minutes to end one in audiobook, so it can be time-consuming….

My reading rate for an interesting book is actually a day or two with a lot of distraction or break periods in between. To concentrate several hours listening to a slow-moving audio packed with words is quite exhausting .

#4. Languages of Audiobooks

Besides English and Malay, I do at some point understand Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and some Arabic (beware people who think they can badmouth me in front of me, I made enemy easily because of this). When I switch to TVB or 8TV or Animax without subtitles, I can understand some parts of the basic conversation.

I don’t live in a bubble of singular language and I was often in a situation requiring me to switch languages instantly. So, being bombarded by several languages at a time, it does confuses my brain for a while. Like when I was listening to an English movie without subtitles and then someone came to me and asked me about the movie in Malay. Or when I was asked to translate something in seconds of what I’m thinking or listening to another person. It’s a skill.

Take it like this; not everyone is comfortable with Malaysian version of Manglish especially since we add several different languages in our English conversation. Several by that, I mean, very Malaysian combination of Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English. So, if there’s an audiobook of a Malaysian novel with Manglish dialogues. I’m more likely to identify to it than pure English audiobooks with its own lingo.

And I do pause at certain vocabulary words while reading and test it on the tip of my tongue, so when I’m listening to audiobooks it just… wash off me like that Malay saying ; “masuk telinga kiri keluar telinga kanan”. So yeah, concentration? zilch

#5. It’s Too Expensive

Here’s the perfect example of what I encounter in normal bookstores here;

Like really, Rm1.2k??? I could buy a Kindle Fire AND a Kindle Paperwhite with that amount of money.

Popular fiction’s audiobooks are largely overpriced in Malaysia. From above RM100 to RM1000! And it’s only CDs! Not DVD mind you. I’m always is amazed when people buy audiobooks in Kinokuniya or MPH or Popular since in my mind, I rather buy normal books with that amount of money. Besides, if you google it on youtube, chances are, people already upload the audiobooks series in it.

Fortunately, there’s also a sort of cheaper way to get real audiobooks in Malaysia which are from Bookxcess. But since they sell mostly overprinted and overstocked items, its hard to get decent titles that you really want. For more cheaper audiobooks in Malaysia, its Big Bad Wolf Annual Sale when these things goes under RM10.


You know, the price isn’t really that expensive if you think in term of USD$1 to RM3 but here’s the thing. We are not in US, our GDP aren’t that high and possibly uneven. These days, you can barely get your own money worth in Malaysian RM than Singapore Dollar. Some of the things about Malaysian economics… buying things sucks when you know its overpriced. These purchasing power is severely limiting.

Thank heaven’s for ebooks and cheap bookstores.

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