If you’re like me, your books-to-read list grows way faster than your books-read, especially if you have a wide range of tastes. Currently, I’m reading Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, a hard sci-fi novel, which so far, has exceeded all expectations. Then I want to start on Blake Crouch’s Abandon, an author I discovered after reading his Wayward Pines Series. Then I’m off to a little steampunk followed by Don DeLillo’s Americana. Chances are very good that you’ll never read steampunk and Don DeLillo written in the same sentence again.
Those don’t even cover the erotica and nonfiction books I want to get to.
With a full time job, a longer than average commute, and a child at home who just started walking, I often feel overwhelmed to find the time to write, let alone the time to read. Yet, I’m a stout believer in the old truism that every writer must also read and do both in plentiful amounts. Even after setting aside a few hours each night for this, progress is slow. In my younger days I’d tear through fifty books a year. Now I’m lucky to get through twenty.
However, I think I may have found a solution. I’m a big fan of Sam Harris’ podcast. It’s one of the few places you can find intelligent, rational people discussing contentious, yet important, issues. In every podcast, he diffidently mentions his sole advertiser, Audible. Out of support for the podcast, I signed up for a free month. If you’re not familiar with Audible, they’re a subsidiary of Amazon that sells audio books.
I didn’t think I’d enjoy audio books. I like that cozy feeling of curling up with a book and getting lost in another world. And I still do. I don’t think there will ever be a substitute for the intimate exchange provided by the written form. Yet, I knew there were plenty of other times—driving, doing chores—when I couldn’t read, but I could listen to an audio book.
By the way, this isn’t an advertisement for Audible, and I don’t have any audio books out. I’m just passing along something new I’ve discovered that has worked well for me.
After a couple of months, I’ve already listened to about half a dozen books. At this rate, I’ll more than double my reading consumption. While it’s not a substitute for good old-fashioned reading, audio books have provided me with a complimentary resource to get through all those books I want to read, but will never have time for.
So far, I’ve found audio books work better for nonfiction and erotica. Other people enjoy listening to mainstream fiction, but unless it’s erotica and there’s a sultry voice that can pull me in by a unique means that I wouldn’t get through reading, the audio version of fiction tends to pull me out of the story.
My other, much more proactive, option to increase my reading is to throw the damn television out the window. As much as I hate my squabble box, I can’t seem to part with it. He’s like that old abusive boyfriend promising me every week that he’s changed. And I fall for it hook, line, and sinker every time, believing I’ll be entertained with substance only to find myself sucked into the pit of idiocy that is The Learning Channel.
Oh, the irony.