How Busy People Can Find More Time for Reading

 By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Like most of you, my life is crazy busy. With my five kids pulling me in all different directions with their activities and friends, I'm lucky if I make it through the day without forgetting to do something or be somewhere.

Between a nearly full time writing career, homeschooling my kids, and managing a busy household, I usually end the day with a fried brain and crawl into bed exhausted, only to wake up the next day and repeat the process.

I don't have time for reading. In fact, some days it feels all but impossible to do the things that really matter, like breathe, eat, and drink coffee.

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating just slightly. But you understand my point. It's tough to find time for reading. We discussed that fairly thoroughly in this post: Reading for Pleasure? Who has Time for That Anymore?

But lately I've discovered one really BIG way to gain more reading time in an already crowded schedule.

And NO we don't have to cut out TV and movies, although I'm sure we would indeed gain more reading time if we cut out a little bit of our screen time.

And NO we don't have to read before bed, although I have found that to be helpful as long as the book is exciting enough to keep me from falling asleep.

And NO we don't have to take time away from our work, although reading can be a form of work (especially for writers).

So, what's the BIG discovery I've made that allows me to sneak in more reading?


Actually, it's not really a new discovery. I've been listening to audio books with my kids for years out of necessity. There was once time when I tried reading novels aloud to them, but invariably I would get interrupted a dozen times per page (especially when I had babies and toddlers running around the house).

So I settled on books on tape or CD because then I had my hands free to get snacks, change diapers, or do whatever needed to be done. And we could listen to the book in peace—or at least with fewer interruptions.

So, yes, I've been listening to books for years—but mainly children's classics. I didn't really consider listening to adult books via tape or CD because—well, I didn't want to have one of my adult books blaring where my young children might overhear the content.

But now that I've branched into the world of ipod touches, iphones, ipads, and similar devices, I've come to realize that AUDIO BOOKS are the NEW READING EXPERIENCE for BUSY PEOPLE.

On such devices, not only are audio books EASY to download, but they're EASY to carry, EASY to bring anywhere, and EASY to turn on at any time (especially if you carry earbuds with you).

I've found that I can listen to audio books wherever and whenever I have a few moments. For example, I've been listening to Jane Eyre on my ipod touch while I exercise every day. I also manage to squeeze in a little listening-time while I'm walking around the house picking up, doing mindless chores, making dinner, brushing my teeth, or driving.

The only problem is that most audio books are still VERY expensive. If you check out iTunes or, many audio books are between $20 and $30. That's a steep price to pay for convenience.

I've found several ways to work around the problem of expensive audio books:

One is to join (or another audio book site) for a membership which then allows you to pick out a certain number of books per month for a set fee (similar to a book club situation). They often have specials for members that make the books more affordable.

A second way to work around the cost is to look at the Kindle books you've already purchased (or want to purchase) and see if it has an audible version available. If so, you can sometimes buy the audio book for a much lower fee with the ebook purchase.

For example, I had already purchased the ebook of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. My kids read the book on the Kindle, but I'd never made the time. Because Amazon had a record that I'd previously bought the book, offered the audio version at a cheaper cost for around $5 versus the $28 it would require if I didn't have the ebook. Thus I was finally able to "read" it.

A third way to download audio books is to use Books Should Be Free website which contains free public domain books, mostly classics. (Addendum: Project Gutenberg also has free audio books for many classics.)

I'm sure there are other inexpensive ways to get audio books onto ipod touches, iphones, and other devices (and if you know of them, PLEASE share in the comments!).

The point is that audio books are growing in popularity and making it possible for really busy people to squeeze in "reading" time when it would otherwise be impossible.

Question for you: Do you listen to audio books? If so, do you have any other tips or suggestions? And for those who don't use audio books, with the growing popularity, have you considered the option? Why or why not?

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