Audiobooks as Leisure Time: Part I

So I was listening to NPR and…

Is there anybody else out there who finds themselves starting sentences this way? If you do, it is probable that you are a commuter. Satellite radio is a godsend to all those who experience red tail lights, frequent fill ups, and time – lots and lots of time in the car on a weekly basis. That being said…

So I was listening to NPR and… there was a Fresh Air with Terry Gross, where Brigid Schulte, author of “Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has The Time”, spoke about how to find leisure time. She went to all of these consultants, and one of them suggested that time spent in the car while she was waiting for a tow truck was leisure time.

Crazy, right? How is it that a stressful situation could be considered… fun?

The answer is, it’s not. However, it made me reconsider the three to four hours a day I spend in the car. Perhaps, just perhaps, instead of thinking of the time as my daily ridiculous commute (from a house that I love love love, to a job I love love love, by the way, which is why I continue to do it) I should think of it as leisure time. Me time. Just this very small flip in perspective has made my commute more manageable.

ListenIn addition to listening to Satellite radio, I frequent my local library and take out audiobooks. In the last six months I have listened to 24 audiobooks. While I enjoy reading books written for adults, I find that I enjoy listening to middle grade the best. I also consider it productive research, since my natural writers’ inclination is for chapter books and MG.

So, here are my thoughts on 12 of the 24 audiobooks I have listened to over the past six months in no particular order. Part II of this post will have the other half.

One through Twelve

1. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

A YA zombie thriller. Female protagonist. Exciting, although a bit too much angst for my personal taste and I completely disagreed with the ending.

157802822. Crap Kingdom by D.C. Pierson

A YA ‘portal to another world’ comedy. The M protagonist is the chosen one for a crap world. Very funny parody that actually works!

3. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

A MG adventure story. Written beautifully. Lots of description. Loved the interaction between the two main characters M/F.

51MCD8yZnJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_4. The Case of the Case of the Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett and 5. The Ghostwriter Secret by Mac Barnett

MG mystery novels that reminded me of the Hardy Boys. In this case they are the Brixton Brothers, although there is really only one sleuth, but brothers plural sounded better. Super fun. Light and entertaining. 

87249 i-viii 1-292 r1gn.qxp6. Masterpiece by Elise Broach

MG from the point of view of a Roach that lives under the sink and has an amazing drawing ability. This was wonderful. I purchased a paperback copy of the book for all of the pen and ink illustrations. Great connection to the art world.

7. Happenstance Found by P.W. Catanese

MG fantasy. Boy has no memory of who he is, and has powers that he doesn’t understand. Oh, and he’s being hunted… Kind of a what if? for if a fledgling society suddenly had all of the technology of the 21st century.

5108rQvZQTL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_8. The Roar by Emma Clayton

MG/YA fence. A distopian sci-fi mystery. Loved it. M main character with a twin sister fights the system. Kept me guessing the whole time, with an amazing ending.

9. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

MG portal to another world drama. Gregor falls into the laundry shoot with his baby sister into an underground world where they ride huge bats and the rats talk. Awesome.

10. Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer

MG mystery. Great M protagonist who has to go undercover with his nemesis. And the narrator has this amazing Scottish accent that I could have listened to forever.

978037585682211. The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane

MG realistic fiction. I don’t usually listen to realistic fiction, but this was so well done. F protagonist who wants to pitch for the boys baseball team. I have recommended it to my students on more than one occasion and they loved it.

12. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

MG from the point of view of a gorilla. Won the Newbury and rightfully so. Probably one of the best crafted books I’ve listened to. The point of view is incredibly strong. Funny. Sad. Thought provoking.

Lightbulb Moment

Considering the time I spend listening to audiobooks, I’m surprised it took me this long to get the ball rolling on recording my own books. I am very excited to announce that I am currently listening to auditions for the audiobook of The Smith Family Secret Book 1 through Audible’s ACX Platform. More on my experiences creating an audiobook to come…

book3_cover_front (1)Alison Potoma is the author of The Smith Family Secret series. Book 3: The Fairy Garden will be released February 2015. Books 1 and 2 are now available on


  1. Great post. It makes me wish I had a commute to listen to books on. (Bad sentence!) Carol says she can listen on quick trips…I don’t know. Maybe I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the book summaries too. I’ve listed 3 I want to read (or listen to) right away.


  2. Alison, I LOVE listening to audio books, whether it’s a long distance trip or a quick fifteen minute local ride. I wouldn’t be without one as a back-up for when the one I’m listening to is finished. It’s essential to keep up with all the reading needed for our research as authors. I’ll definitely be checking out some of your suggestions. The only thing I question sometimes is if I didn’t like an audio book, was it the narrator, or was it the story?


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