I love audiobooks. I am not a big reader outside of college, but I have way too much assigned reading for my classes to ever hope to do it all. Before I discovered audiobooks, I allocated specific days of the week as “reading days”, where I would basically sit down and try to digest as much material as possible. Ultimately, it was my eyes that gave way first – my optometrist told me that my rapidly increasing prescription strength was due in large part to my reading habits. I could do eye training exercises, he said, or perhaps read less.
Reading less wasn’t an option – but it turns out many people have had this problem and turned to audiobooks. I thought they were just for old people interested in fiction. Not true! There’s a range of textbooks and academic type content available, if you know where to look. I mostly listen to Audible audiobooks, but there are also some good ones on YouTube, which are freely available.
Benefits of audiobooks
I’ve heard of audiobooks used in a lot of ways – from people who don’t like to read, to people who are blind or vision-impaired. I’ve heard of them used in classrooms, and by people who travel a lot. I’m sure there are a lot more reasons to use them, but here are some:
- You want to increase your productivity by multitasking with audiobooks.
- You want to read more, but your eyes are hurting.
- You enjoy listening to audiobooks in general, but you don’t have time to read.
- You like listening to audiobooks in the car.
- You’re a road warrior and you need some good books to keep you company.
Let’s look at a few reasons in more detail.
I know that “multitasking” has gotten a bad rap recently, with all this focus on mindfulness and doing one thing at a time. But I just don’t buy that, I love doing as many things at the same time as I possibly can. And besides, sometimes doing one thing is boing! Whether you’re doing dishes or folding laundry, you can listen to an audiobook while you’re doing other things. I have a friend who listens to audiobooks while she’s driving. This doesn’t work for me because I get distracted easily while driving, but if you’re more comfortable with that than I am, then it’s a good option. If you’re in the car for a long time, for example, if you take a long commute to work, you can listen to an audiobook during that time. In any case, multitasking is a huge productivity boost that you can unlock with audiobooks.
If you want to listen to an audiobook on your phone, you can. If you want to listen to an audiobook on your computer, you can. If you want to listen to an audiobook on your Kindle Fire, you can. With popular audiobooks, you can even listen to them on your television! And they weigh nothing – you can carry around the entire works of Shakespeare on your phone if you wish, and your bag won’t get any heavier. Speaking as someone who used to cart several thick textbooks to and from class every day, the portability is a huge win.
Good for the environment
It’s better for the environment to listen to audiobooks than it is to read print books or magazines. Think about it – what happens to the book when you’re finished with it? There’s really no reason to use our limited forestry resources to re-print books that can be obtained electronically. This also holds true for e-books, of course. You might say “well they are going to print the book anyway” and you may be right today, but in 10 years from now when everyone is listening to audio books because they’ve read this awesome article of mine, then there will be a lot less demand for paper books, so they’ll print less of them, and it will have a positive and long term effect on the number of trees cut down to make paper for the books. So on the whole, I do think it’s good for the environment.
I think audiobooks are one of the most affordable ways to read. You can get audiobooks from libraries for free, or you can buy them and they’re pretty cheap. Public libraries often have a bigger range than you might expect. Some services (i.e. Audible) have a fixed fee where you get books regularly for a fixed cost, which is great if you do a consistent amount of listening. But don’t just listen to bulk volume, you want really high quality, high value audio books.
The quality of the narration is important. Look for books voiced by professionals (the author might be a good writer, but isn’t always a good speaker). For fiction, a good production may have powerful male heroes, and villains voiced by men with snarky voices, for example, and similarly young and elderly characters will be appropriately voiced. For non-fiction, look for someone who’s voice you can stand to listen to for an extended period of time – trust me, it matters!
So keep reading, listening, and enjoying yourself at the same time. It’s one of my big secret weapons for college, and I truly recommend it to anyone studying a course where reading is a major component.