Over the last 18 months or so I have become an avid user of www.audible.co.uk. This has been a great experience – I am back enjoying stories which stretch the imagination, bring me somewhere else, stimulate ideas, provide an escape. Over the previous several years had found that books were simply piling up – work and family life resulted in efforts to read books when sleep was the order of the day. I’d pick up a book at 9 or 9.30 in the evening and five minutes later fall asleep.
And, always there was the distraction of this online world – hyperlinking from link to link and not resting in one spot for the time it would take to enjoy a good book.
As a management consultant I continue to read lots of business books – be the subject strategy, lean manufacturing, cloud computing, leadership, whatever. For the most part I read these in hard copy – and potentially 20% online. But I have reserved my listening time (audible time) for literature.
When growing up we were strongly encouraged to read. The expectation was that the two books borrowed from the library would be read by the time they were returned a fortnight later. And many fortnights of this meant that many books were read – notwithstanding other distractions such as football, cricket, Hawaii-Five-O (the real one!). So getting back to book consumption feels familiar – even if this time I am listening more than reading.
The other main benefit of audible has been that it has supported and, indeed, encouraged me to take more exercise. A walk in the evening for 60 minutes listening to a good novel is a great way to relax and get/stay fit.
I have not read any analysis yet on the relative merits of listening to versus reading books. Certain books are possibly more suited to one or the other activity. And some books, when listened to in the first instance, leave me wanting to read them afterwards. This is the opposite to the movie experience – when most times after I have seen a movie I am not tempted to read the book.
I have a number of history books slated for reading this year – which I intend reading rather than listening to via audible. In general I find myself looking to cross reference, to look at maps, etc., when reading history and this just seems to be easier when reading rather than listening. But the challenge remains to find time when sleep does not beckon.
One other possible down side – walking time previously spend listening to music has now been presold to books. Still working on a way to stretch the day to more than 24 hours.