A Guide to Reading Way More Than You Thought You Could Each Week

As a husband, father of 2, full-time worker, and side-hustler, I’ve found a way to devour books despite being crunched for time

Audiobooks are Game-Changers

Audiobooks have been a game-changer for me. And while bibliophiles may be quick to remind me that listening to audiobooks isn’t technically reading, I find that I no longer care. I’m reading for the knowledge and insight, not for the sport or bragging rights.

Great Resources for Getting Audiobooks

Audiobooks are great, but not always as easy to come by, compared to regular books. If you’re not well-versed in how to get audiobooks cost-effectively, here are some resources. Most of theme are low cost or entirely free.

(Somewhat Costly) — Invest in Audible

I’m a big fan of Audible. For $14.95 a month, I highly recommend an Audible Premium Plus subscription. You get one free audiobook per month of your choice, plus access to a whole bunch of exclusive free content.

(Free) Your Local Library: Books on CD

Your local library has books on CD and cassette tape. Are these the best option? No. But there are some books that are difficult to find on audio software that you can find on CD or cassette at your library.

(Free) Library Smartphone Apps

While going to the library and searching for books on tape may be a familiar option, there’s another one that many people don’t seem to know yet. Nearly every local library has a bunch of content available through apps you can download to your smartphone for free.

(Free) Librivox

Librivox is another great free option that has a decent smartphone app. It features a large selection of books, but they’re ones that are by and large no longer under copyright protection. As a result you get an eclectic collection of stuff to choose from — which can be great. However, the search function can be a bit wonky at times.

(Free) Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg has been around since the early days of the internet. Their goal is to get as many books as possible available to people for free on the internet. They have tons of books, from classics to obscure ones — and in various formats. You can download pdfs, epubs, Kindle versions, and even HTML versions of books.

(Free) Open Culture: A Mixed Media Treasure Trove

There was a time early in podcasting when some books were read aloud and released as podcasts. There was also iTunesU — which also featured lectures from universities. For books, each chapter would be an episode. Years ago, I listened to The Iliad this way (don’t worry, I also read it in book form in high school!).

Find More Time for Books (When You Thought You Had None)

With all these free and low-cost audiobook options, all you need is to find the time to absorb them. That might be easier than you think.

Lawn and Garden Work

I have a huge lawn and a small riding lawn mower. All told, it takes me about an hour and a half each week to mow, weed-whack and trim. That’s to say nothing of any kind of random weeding, gardening, watering, raking, etc. that needs to be done.

Grocery shopping

The wireless earbud has been great for those of us who like venturing out into the world and being around people, but still like to listen to something. Grocery shopping with one ear-bud in my ear, and an audiobook playing has helped me get even more audiobook listening done.

Cleaning house

I hate cleaning the house. But ever since I’ve begun listening to audiobooks while doing it, I’ve actually looked forward to busting out the old duster or toilet brush. My sinks have never been cleaner, and I’m also learning a lot. To me, that’s a double bonus.

Driving or commuting

Any time I drive, I’m listening to audiobooks. My kids are not always fans of this, so we have to compromise and listen to their stuff as well. As they grow up more, I’ll most certainly get them into the habit of audiobooks.

Listen at a faster speed

Key to getting more time to read audiobooks is to get through them more quickly. A trick I’ve found is to listen at higher speed.

How to Get More Out of Your Books

Read and Listen — to Different Books

I still read paper books (I’m not a monster!). But I like to pair paper books with audio ones. I don’t necessarily read the paper copy of the book I’m listening to, but rather, I find a book on a similar topic.

Don’t Finish the Book Just to Finish it

I don’t believe in finishing books just to finish them. I never did for text, and I don’t for audio either. Is it easier to finish an audiobook that’s not good than a text one? Sure. But no matter how easy it is, don’t finish a book that’s not interesting anymore. Life’s too short for that.

Go Forth and…Listen

Above, I’ve laid out strategies for reading (and listening) to more books. In the end, it all comes down to a few key things:

  • identify times when you’re doing necessary (but mindless) work, and pair that with a good audiobook
  • listen to (and read) many different books at once
  • stop listening to (or reading) a book when it’s not engaging anymore

Author of “The Wabi-Sabi Way” and “Be, Think, Do”. Subscribe to my newsletter “Woolgathering”: https://goo.gl/UhzUYL.

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