Like most of you reading this, my calendar has drastically changed. My hour-long block in Outlook for a walk at lunch has now been replaced with information about when my one-year-old naps, so my coworkers know when I’m most easily available. I’m still trying to get the walk in, but it’s being shoehorned in between remote working and sharing stay-at-home responsibilities with my husband, who’s also trying to work from home. Part of my walks is and has always been listening to audiobooks. Normally I listen to nonfiction on audio, but these are not normal times, and I’m certainly going to expand my range. Audiobooks will be more than a chance for learning, they will also provide me with extra company when I’m feeling isolated.

Here are some of the strategies I’m using to look for more (and different) audiobooks. I hope these search tips are useful for you and your readers.

A new voice in your ear
As we’re all stuck inside either alone or with our immediate family, your ear will be hunting for a new and different voice. NoveList has appeal terms specifically for audiobooks (search AP [term]), including the voice of the narrator. Some ideas, depending on the voices you’re hearing all day:

  • Folksy: These narrators highlight regional speech patterns and dialects
  • Resonant: Pleasing voices wash over the listener in rich and sonorous tones
  • Gravelly: Husky, rasp, and throaty voices – think James Earl Jones
  • Warm: These appealing voices have pleasant, inviting tones

Something to entertain the kids
Have you listened to the Jim Dale narration of the Harry Potter series? If you and your kids love to hear one amazing actor show off a vocal range, search AP distinctly voiced and limit by age level. If you’ve got kids with shorter attention spans, you can specify audiobook running times under advance search. A search for distinctly voice audiobooks that run 3-6 hours and are for ages 9-12 gets you results like: the Dork Diaries series, the Magic Misfits series, and Black Beauty. Another good option for kids is AP energetic, which will get you “performances imbued with spirit, animation, and enthusiasm.” Combine that search with a limiter for ages 0-8 to get audiobooks of favorite, fun children’s books.

Feel like you're in the middle of a party
Personally, I do *not* enjoy full-cast audiobooks. However, as crowds become memory, I might change my mind. Type in AP full cast audio to see your options. Immerse yourself in the catty goodness of Vanity Fair, startle at Mrs. Danvers’ constant presence with Rebecca, and ponder the meaning of life with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Learn something new
I would like to say that I’m going to use my slower days to learn Chinese, but I also want to be honest with myself. However, I’d probably be open to learning something new in an audiobook, and you and your readers may be as well. If you want to explore a specific time in history, try a time period search. To search by time period, type in SW [term]. For example, SW 1920s will return results set in the 1920s and SW Revolutionary America will return results like what you expect. From there, you can narrow down to audiobooks. If you’re not certain how a time period is phrased in NoveList’s metadata, look up a book you know is set during the time period and use that as an example.  

Maybe you, like me, love a good popular math book (don’t laugh, these exist!). SU [term] will search for books with that NoveList subject heading. For example, SU Mathematics will return results like the excellent How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg.

Be somewhere different
Let your daily walk take you someplace unexpected with a location search. SD London will return books set in London. Or head to Hawaii with SD Hawaii, Nigeria with SD Nigeria, and Alaska with SD Alaska. Traveling by audiobook means you get a brief vacation, without the worry that you’re taxing another state’s health resources.

Meet someone famous
Using AP read by the author gives you the opportunity to spend several hours with someone famous. My personal favorites here are Becoming by Michelle Obama and As You Wish, Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. 

To look for audiobooks that are feel-good, type DE feel-good into the search bar and click on the Audiobooks tab to see your options. From there, you can use the limiters at the left to narrow by genre, audio characteristics, length, and more. 

Happy listening, everyone. Stay safe.

Jennifer Lohmann is the Director of Sales and Marketing at NoveList. She is reading The Mirror and the Light and listening to Bring up the Bodies, both by Hilary Mantel, though she’s considering abandoning both of those in favor of a feel-good romance novel.