Question from a reader -
You strongly recommend audio books but I have a bit of trouble seeing myself listening to them regularly.
It just seems vastly inefficient compared to books, and even though it has the same content (perhaps even more through intonation), I feel as though I lose a lot of context when I listen to or watch things instead of reading them - perhaps a different part of the brain is being used? I think the exception to this is motivational work such as Brian Tracy (who I dismissed without reason as some sort of get-rich-quick schemer but gave a listen after your recommendation and enjoyed). Actually, I think conversational style books such as Gladwell's tone, or the research-heavy but not-too-deep books might work well as audio so I may have answered my own question.
Anyway, how did you make the jump to more audio books? What great books switched you over? Why are you such an audio book fan (all the extra books is a good argument, but I feel like there's a lost cost of all the books I now won't read and would hate to risk the greatness of a good book, just as one should usually read the novel before watching the movie).
Okay, this is a common question, observation, and mistake I see. You're thinking "audiobook = replacement for book"... but it's not. Audiobooks are a replacement for staring at your shoes while you're waiting to clear customs and immigration at the airport, while you're in line at the grocery store, or while you're going for a walk or otherwise running errands.
It took me a long time to warm up to audio - I had it strongly recommended to me two years before I finally got onboard. Now I'm kicking myself for going those two years without audio. It's been one of the easiest huge-positive-impact gains on my life.
I mean, it's huge. 20-50 extra books a year that fills up useless dead time in your life? Awesome. Nowdays, waiting for someone in front of me who is dragging ass at the post office to hurry and finish isn't quite as bad.
But you're right, certain books lend themselves to audio and others don't. The absolutely best use for audiobooks - and where they're superior to paper books - are with books of inconsistent pace and quality.
There's some books with excellent chapters and important points that drag and are quite boring, or excessively technical, or excessively detailed at certain points.
History books can be particularly guilty of this. A lot of historians really love a couple of elements of a place's history, but they feel like they have to cover everything if they do an overview. For instance, "Lost to the West," about the Eastern Roman Empire ("Byzantine Empire") has some extraordinary parts.
But it also drags at times. The great thing about audiobooks is you can kind of zone out when it's dragging, and tune back in when it's picking up. There's lots of the books that I straight up wouldn't be able to get through a pretty rough chapter because I know have more enjoyable things to read. On audio, you just listen through it as it throws too many names and dates and whatever at you with a not-so-good pace, but then it's on to the next chapter. The book keeps moving - you don't have to move your eyes and get comprehension to keep moving forwards like you would with a regular book.
The flipside is true as well - there's a lot of great, nuanced books I wouldn't want on audio. I love the Sherlock Holmes short stories, but I think they'd be much been on paper book than audio. So absolutely, you have to pick books conducive to audio.
But it's an exceptional format for getting more books in. I'd recommend you start with:
*Books where the points are semi-independent of each other, so if you miss a little bit you're okay
*Books you want to read, but the reading comprehension would be too taxing at certain parts to keep going
*Books with inconsitent pace and quality (many science and history books are guilty of this)
And then, you don't replace paper reading. I still read written books a lot, and think they're excellent. But audiobooks aren't a competitor with paper books - they're a competitor for standing in line staring at forwards blankly. Having some knowledge playing in your ears is much better than standing there in a haze.
So yeah, I love audiobooks. Audible is actually the only entertainment service I pay for every month - it's that good. Works internationally, super easy, high quality, and dirt cheap for good audio. But regardless of where you get your audio, go get some - it's a game changer. 50 more books a year! While you're normally be staring at your shoes!
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