I feel like a genius. Well, a bit.
Last week I managed to “read” 3 and a half books from my long reading queue. I’m done with How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, Lying by Sam Harris, Zero to One by Peter Thiel, and I’m half way through The Cosmic Trigger by Robert A. Wilson.
Let’s start with a disclaimer. I’m more a visual learner, and I’m first to admit that I don’t remember as much as if I would read the book in paper. But.
Sometimes there are just too many books in queue and not enough quality time to read. Therefore: Audiobooks to the rescue!
(Read Kindle vs. Audible comparison here)
Listening to audio books is great for fiction – especially when the narrator did a good job. For non-fiction could be more difficult, but at minimum it’s amazingly efficient way to find out whether it makes sense for you to study particular book in details. By listening you will either find out like the book and will dig deeper, or you won’t and you saved yourself hours (or days) of reading.
For example take Dale Carnegie’s famous book – How To Win Friends. It was on my list for the longest time, but I kind of thought it will be cheesy, with too many stories, and perhaps outdated so I would always postpone reading it. Now I don’t have to guess, I know it’s good. His principles are simple and common sense, but as they say “common sense is not very common”. I made *a lot* of notes (or rather clips). I will go through them again, take proper notes, and probably re-read again, as I will be implementing it in my life.
The best hack for audiobooks? Listen on high speed.
This saves even more time, and you won’t even notice that narrator sounds a bit like Mickey Mouse. E.g. in “How To Win…” I would skim the stories of aunties and students on 1.65x speed – I still get the message, but don’t waste too much on it.
Bonus: yes you can “read” practically anywhere. I listened while brushing teeth, exercising, baking, running on treadmill, walking, at the airport, in a plane, in a car, in a hotel bed before sleep. Frankly I find it a bit awkward in the bathroom, but hey, some people read paper books when doing their business, so why not. At least it’s more hygienic because you don’t have to touch anything.
Some activities make it more difficult to take notes (e.g. exercise), but “clips” in Audible are a half-decent solution.
If you purchase audiobooks through Amazon, you can listen either through Kindle or Audible. Comparison, (dis)advantages and tips and tricks for these two apps are described here. And we should talk about price as well. Some audiobooks are pretty pricey, but there are a few tricks you can use described here (yes it’s the same link as before).
Result of this experiment is a big “Hell yes!” for audiobooks.
Are there books for which audio format is not very suitable? Yes, there are. But I’ll be definitely buying narrations for any book that will sit on my Kindle for too long without reading. If I can’t absorb through eyes, I will try through ears.
- You can read practically anywhere
- Low effort = it lowers the bar for reading more books
- It saves a lot of time and takes out the guesswork about the quality of the book
- Doesn’t make you sick in the car
- You can adjust the speed to match the content
- If you bought both versions of a book in Kindle and Audible, progress is synced and you can jump between reading and listening
- Note taking is still in its infancy – not user friendly yet (read Kindle vs. Audible post). If you are a visual person like me, you will have to find good note taking/note making system (I don’t understand the reason – Kindle text is perfectly mapped to Kindle audio, so it should not be difficult)
- It can get pricey if you’re not careful (but there are ways around)
- Not useful with some of the books. For me that would be professional books with a lot of bullet lists and actions to be taken (e.g. The Lean Product Playbook), and fiction books with too many names at the beginning (I would probably start by reading, familiarize myself with names, then switch to audio)
- May disturb for your spouse when you listen at home 🙂