Audiobooks: Bringing Books into a Busy Life

Audiobooks at School

We all know about listening to music while we are exercising, or reading before we sleep or when we have a spare moment.  But, I hear all the time from friends who say they

just don’t have time to read because they have so many other things to do. 

I have the opposite problem: I have no time for other things because I need reading time. So much around the house wasn’t happening because I had to read.

And, for a long time, I couldn’t figure out how to fit audiobooks into my life. I felt at loose ends just sitting and listening to a book.  If I did listen to a book I found myself itching to pick up something and read. One issue was that I could read so much faster than I can listen to an audiobook.

Then we got a riding mower.  I had to wear earplugs anyway and the handiest earphones were connected to my i-phone. I started with music and then looked towards audiobooks because I had so much outdoor work to do. This answered the speed of reading problem since this would just be lost as reading time without audiobooks, and I learned that many listening applications allow you to increase palyback, or narration , speed.

But audiobooks are expensive.  I found three ways to get books that were free or less expensive:

  • The MaineInfonet system and so I could borrow books through my library [Many states participate in the program ( and they also have downloadable e-books.] and they became much more affordable.
  • Audible: I wanted to listen to WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEARTS BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon so I took advantage of the two month free trial with Amazon’s Audible online service.  I got another three months at half-off when I tried to quit. I kept on because I want to be able to get these books for much less than their usual cost.
  • I also use Tantor audio which has a lot of books on sale.  Tantor sells CD Mp3s and audio downloads.  The CD mp3s require a computer to download them to your music library, or a computer that can play mp3s.

Physical tasks that don’t involve the wordier parts of my brain are perfect for audiobooks.  This is how I went from wondering what to do while listening to a book, to learning I could do a  lot that is conducive to audiobook “reading.”

  • Any situation where I found myself reading – like working out. It’s active, but higher brain function is not required to move those feet on an exercise machine or run on a quiet street.
  • Situations where I would have music on: when I don’t have to talk with, or listen to, others.
  • Times when I don’t need to read too much (more than a road sign), it may be a good place for a book. Of course if I need focus, like driving in a very busy area or using a powertool, I turn the book off.

From lawn mowing I went on to some situations where I found I’m able to listen to an audio book. Of course I use common sense and am sure to pay attention to my surroundings. I do not advise anyone to follow me in this – these are just situations in which I find I can listen.


In the shower I found I really couldn’t hear my i-phone’s weak speakers so I began popping it into a plastic cup , speaker side down.  This actually does amplify the sound. I set it out of the way in my shower.  I also had one in the car to overcome traffic noise.

Mwaterresisty husband saw this and got me a waterproof, bluetooth, rechargeable speaker. The bluetooth on this isn’t really great – I find the phone has to have a clear path to the speaker. It is a mono-speaker so for music it is not hi-fidelity. It has a flexible loop that allows me to hang it in the shower or in the car it sits securely in the door’s arm rest.  It’s easy to wrap around my iphone to carry it from room to room as well.




EarphonesWhen I want to listen to a book in private or without disturbing others, I use noise-cancelling ear phones like the ones at left.  They block out other noises and make it so others don’t hear sound coming from your earphones.

  • My earphones are corded and I will either hold the iphone and cord while I run, or put them into a pocket and thread the cord under my clothes or through a bra strap for other activities.
  • The noise cancelling allows me to use them while using the mower or snow blower.
  • Sometimes I even carry them in my sports bra.
  • It’s good to have a way for your partner or family to indicate they would like to speak with you when you are wearing earphones — it avoids having other resent you listening to a book when they want your attention.

I find listening to a book to be a very different experience from reading.  It’s not better or worse, just not precisely the same.

The things I find necessary for successful audiobook listening are:

  • headphones or earphones,
  • bluetooth speaker (water resistant)
  • computer with mp3 cd capability or my itunes library
  • and iphone, ipod or other mp3 device. You can also use an ipad, or kindle fire.

What it all boils down to is that there are ways to bring books into even the busiest life if you really want to read. And, people with the busiest lives probably could use a good book!  Iif nothing else the headphones make it look like you don’t want to be disturbed – even if you have nothing playing.    Plus, there are ways not to spend a fortune on these books.