I love to read. I always have. I still remember being six-years-old and the first time I read a whole “chapter” book by myself. It was a library book and I was tucked into bed with it at bedtime. I realize now it was a very short book, but it seemed very grownup to me at the time because it didn’t have any pictures. I was so excited to finish it that I hopped out of bed and ran into my parent’s bedroom to announce my triumph.

That is one of my most vivid memories from my childhood. That is the impact reading has always had on me.

Once I was an adult, and a mom, and a wage earner, and now a farmer, reading is something I do not have enough time for. Which is ironic because we are at the point with our farm journey when I need to read and learn a LOT. Plus I still love my fiction too, for entertainment.

Lucky for me, I have audiobooks. And that’s what this post is about: audiobooks…and why you should try them…and how they will improve your writing at work. (The part about audiobooks improving your life is a no brainer, as you’ll see, so read on.)

The number one reason you should try audiobooks

Everyone should read. Period. I describe the benefits of reading here, and you want to make sure you read that post if you’re not already convinced it’s important.

Or check out all the wonderful quotes about the benefits of reading on my Pinterest board.

But that’s all about books, right? So what’s the number one reason you should try audiobooks? You will read more, even though you’re not reading.

No, the audiobook is not the same as reading. You won’t get the same benefits as far as lower stress and better sleep.

But you will get some of the benefits…

  • Your imagination will improve.
  • Your vocabulary will improve.
  • Your knowledge will improve.
  • Your critical thinking skills will improve.
  • Your empathy will improve.

And, maybe first and foremost, you’ll make better use of your time, in many cases.

Making better use of time with audiobooks

I use audiobooks to make better use of my time doing physical activities like washing dishes, cleaning stalls, doing housework, folding laundry, working in the greenhouse…and even while driving.

These are all tasks that need doing, but they become higher value tasks when I can do the task and improve my brain at the same time.

In this way, I can get through 60 books per year as a mix of actual books and audiobooks, mostly audiobooks.

(Now, if all of those were nonfiction, I’d be a genius by now! But they aren’t. I admit it, I use audiobooks for entertainment more than for learning, because I can’t always give an audiobook the focus it needs when it’s nonfiction and I am doing a task.)

Audiobooks will expose you to books you otherwise might not read

I am not a quitter. That’s both a blessing and a curse. As a curse, it means I will finish a book even if I don’t like reading it. Audiobooks save me from that because there’s less of a commitment, I guess. I will quit an audiobook part way through—and have.

That means I will take a chance on a book in audio form that I wouldn’t consider in hardcover or paperback. And this willingness to listen to a book I wouldn’t read has exposed me to other people’s points of views which has broadened my horizons and understanding of the world.

Plus you’ll get exposed to books you will fall in love with an want to own. Books like An Immense World, From What Is to What If and Pastoral Song are three books that I first found as audiobooks then bought as actual books because I loved them so much—and they have been life-changing for me. Without the exposure to the wide selection of books when I use the Libby app, I might not ever have found these books.

The best part? You’re being read to

Here’s the deal: You might like listening to music while doing tasks, or having the TV on in the background, but nothing is as soothing as having someone read to you while you wash dishes or weed in the garden.

And sometimes, a book is even better when read out loud as an audiobook. For example, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is an absolute delight as an audiobook…and simply entertaining in paperback.

And now, what about work?

Ah, yes, the promise in my headline…how will audiobooks improve your writing at work? For all of the reasons I stated above:

  • Your imagination will improve.
  • Your vocabulary will improve.
  • Your knowledge will improve.
  • Your critical thinking skills will improve.
  • Your empathy will improve.

To write better, read more. And audiobooks simply make that much much easier to do!

How to find audiobooks

OK, so you’re convinced you want to try audiobooks, either for entertainment or learning or both. Now what?

Well, now you need to know how to get started.

I say start free. You don’t have to pay! (Looking at you, Audible.) You only need a library card for your local library and the Libby app.

Then you can search the database using filters to find what you’d like.

For me, I also have a board on Pinterest where I pin books I’m interested in. Then I look for those books as audiobooks using Libby.

I have learned that many books aren’t available as audiobooks, so it’s not a guarantee you’ll get what you want, but you’ll find some of the books you want that way.

(Note: If you want to get to know someone, really know them, see what books interest them. I just gave you huge insight into my scary brain by sharing that Pinterest board with you. Don’t judge me.)

Are there downsides to audiobooks?

The fact is, nothing is perfect (except books) and so there are three downsides to audiobooks, in my opinion.

The first happens when listening nonfiction: I often listen to nonfiction that has statistics or numbers, and those are easier to absorb when read than heard.

The second also involves nonfiction: Sometimes I want to go back to earlier material in the book to better understand a point, but I can’t flip through pages to do so, and it’s too cumbersome to rewind and try to find an exact spot using Libby.

And the third is that not every book works as an audiobook. Many are better as audiobooks because the reader is so talented. But sometimes the reader is dry and has a voice hard to listen to. This is especially true when an author reads a book. Ed Yong, the author of An Immense World, narrated his own book, and I was apprehensive about that. But he is a delightful reader of his own material.

Are you ready for audio?

I hope this post has convinced you to give audiobooks a try because you have absolutely nothing to lose by doing so…and a whole helluva lot to gain. Let me know what you think!

Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/books-in-black-wooden-book-shelf-159711/

Sharon Ernst is a freelance editor and writer at www.weknowwords.com, a teacher and coach at www.betterfasterwriter.com. And a farmer and planet saver at www.literalroadfarm.com.