If you’ve seen me in person, there’s a high chance I had earbuds in. If I’m on my own anywhere, I’ll usually be wearing them and listening to an audiobook. I love listening — usually to science fiction, fantasy, business, personal growth, science or other non-fiction books. Over the last few years, this resulted in me listening to a LOT of books. 72 in 2016, 78 in 2015, 44 in 2014 and 43 so far in 2017.
We are currently living in the age of audio books. The last few years have seen an explosion of the format following the self-publishing explosion brought on by the Kindle. As quantity grows, so has quality – with multiple narrators, higher quality audio, more editing and a much more engaging experience.
Here are some of the ways I’ve found to maximize the number of books I listen to in order to take advantage of this growing storytelling medium!
Find the Right Earbuds
Earphones can make of break whether you like listening. You want to have earphones that are comfortable wearing for hours at a time, but that you can pull out of a pocket and use within 5 seconds. If you’re spending too long untangling cables, pairing to a phone or situating them on your ears, you’ll be much less likely to put them on when the time comes. I prefer earbuds I can put on with one hand
- Easily wearable for 6+ hours
- Tangle-free cord
- Can put on with 1 hand
My earbuds of choice are the Efnar Sports Invisible In Ear Mini Bluetooth ones. These are only $10 and have lasted over a year for me.
Identify Your Time
For a week, try listening whenever you’re alone. If you’re driving, walking, doing things around the house, exercising – every chance you get when you’re not actively doing something else. I wouldn’t recommend listening while your attention is focused somewhere else though. I can’t listen to audiobooks while working, reading, programming or watching TV — but there are many other times when I’m transitioning between activities. Even just letting my dog outside for a minute or two gives a good chance to listen for a bit. Sometimes this will have an added impact, and I’ll come back inside and do something else productive in order to continue listening.
Schedule Your Next 20 Hours
The biggest reason I’ve had not starting a new book when I’ve finished one is that I haven’t taken the time to plan what to listen to next. I like to always have the next 20 hours of books I’m going to read planned out and on my device. This minimizes downtime after completing a book. The 20 hours part is more important than just “have the next book scheduled” since some books end up being much shorter — and even finishable in a day. Having the next 20 hours planned out could mean the next 2-3 books lined up, or just the current long one you’re working through.
Find the Right Speed
There’s a bunch of reasons to change the speed of an audio book. The narrator’s voice, the complexity of the topic, how good it is, the speed of the narration and how much attention you can devote to listening are all key parts different for every book. I tend to start all books at 1.25x and adjust from there depending on how it feels. If the book is good, I’ll leave it there, or even slow it down to 1x. If the book is starting to drag, I’ll speed it up — sometimes to as much as 3x.
Browse Multiple Sources For Books
If you’re looking to buy 100 audiobooks from Audible, it’s going to cost about $1,000. Listening to a bunch of books gets expensive fast! Here are a few different sources for getting audiobooks:
- Audible – The best library, and best iPhone app for listening to audio books.
- Kindle Unlimited – Comes with the audio versions of many books.
- OverDrive – Free audiobooks with a library subscription
With Audible’s credit system, you should never pay more than $10 per audio book, and only when it’s not available for free elsewhere. If you do end up downloading an MP3 file, I recommend using Downcast to play it, which allows for many speed settings not available in other applications (including 1.25x and 1.5x).
Set A Goal and Stick to It!
Setting a goal of listening to an hour of each day is a great start — or pick a duration that works for you.
What’s worked for you for listening to audio books?