The Power of Audio Books

Readers lead and leaders read – Unknown

Audio Books - Monitor with Hand“Did you really read all those books?” She asked, referring to my Amazon reading list on LinkedIn. “Yes. In fact, I read most of them several times and that’s far from the complete list.” She gave me a look that suggested she did not believe me and went on her way. Clearly, she did not understand the power of audiobooks.

I believe leaders read and readers lead. It helps that my commute has ranged from 45 to 90 minutes, each way, for the last 8 years. These long commutes offered great “reading” time. However, it does not require a long commute to consume audio books. My veracious appetite for books now has me listening to audio books everywhere.

Audio Books can be Read Anywhere

1. In the car

2. In the shower

3. Cleaning the house

4. Doing laundry

5. Running or other exercise

How Audio Books Help You Learn More Than Traditional Books

My process for listening to audio books helps me consume more material and remember it better than I would a traditional book. Here’s how I do it:

1. Listen Quickly: My first listen to a book is simply to determine the quality. If I’m really uncertain a book is worth reading (rare), I may even listen to it at double speed (an option in most MP3 players). If I didn’t catch enough value in the book, that’s it. I put it away and likely never reference it again. I also do not review, share or recommend any books that do not make it to step 2.

2. Listen Carefully: If the first read was good, I listen to it a second time. During the second listen, I often pause it, take notes and / or share tweets and quotes on Following a second listen of the audio book, I find I retain more than a single reading of a traditional book.

3. Reference Later: Because I have it on audio, with all the great tools below and listening opportunities above, I frequently listen to the best audio books 3 or more times. In fact, I will listen to an audio book again whenever relevant – such as if I am struggling with an issue at work or a coworker asks a relevant question.

Tools to Simplify Your Reading Experience:

The more simple and accessible you make your audio book listening experience, the quicker you will consume a library. To simplify and maximize your audio book consumption, here are the tools I use and recommend.

1. iPhone: Of course, any smartphone will do. The key is to combine your phone and audio player. It saves you the nuisannce of carrying an extra device everywhere you go.

2. Bluetooth ear piece: I currently use the Jawbone Era – it enables me to be hands free all the time and listen everywhere I go.

3. Bluetooth car speaker: Our car has one built-in, as do many newer models. If your car does not, you can purchase a good one for under $50.

4. Powered speakers in the bathroom: The shower gets pretty loud. A little extra power for your speakers will ensure you can hear the audio over the water.

5. iPhone arm band: Whatever smartphone you use, have a sports band so you can listen during exercise.

So, yes, I did read all those books and many more. You can too. Reading more will help you lead better. To get there, try an audio book, the right tools and the right process.

Question: Have you found better tools or techniques for audio books?


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

7 thoughts on “The Power of Audio Books”

  1. That’s my one complaint about the wave of eBooks being released by people whose works I really, really want to read: Usually, no audiobook option. I’m subscribed to Audible and as a busy mom who rarely has time to sit down, Audiobooks keep me moving while also getting to enjoy my favorite books and sometimes, like you, over and over again. There’s also something about hearing nonfiction in the author’s own voice that I really like…it’s like attending a great conference while washing the dishes. 🙂

    1. I struggle with exactly the same issue, Cara. I pretty much only read the hard copy if no audio is available. I do think the technology is close for us to enjoy the auto-readers (text to speech) available on many ereaders. It’s just not quite there yet.  Thanks for sharing!

  2. Stephen Robles

    I’ve just begun listening to audiobooks on a regular basis. My only caveat is that many are abridged and leaves me wondering if I “missed something.” That being said, my 45min commute is ideal for “reading” and have found it worthwhile.

    1. You’re right – that bugs me, too. For me, if I really love the abridged audio book, that’s another example it may be worth reading the hard copy. Thanks for sharing Stephen.

  3. Do you have a link to your book list on your site here?  I could not find those books in your LinkedIn profile, thanks.

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