This is Part 5 of an eight-part series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE.
I try to commit to reading 30 minutes a day toward my personal reading program (outside of daily Biblical devotion time). Though that doesn’t sound like much of a time consumer, it is still somehow hard to enact that each day. Life happens and ends up having other plans for me, which I’m sure you can easily relate to. It often becomes challenging to find 30 quiet minutes a day to read.
Thus, I’ve learned to leverage audiobooks to use the times in each day where I am busy, but with mindless activities where I can enjoy an audiobook.
Considerations for Your Audiobooks
- Ideal opportunities for me to listen to audiobooks: running, driving, walking the dog, and doing chores around the house such as cleaning dishes and folding laundry. That time adds up quickly each week and I can usually complete an audiobook within 10 days (depending on length).
- Be selective in the books to enjoy via audiobook. Not all books are appropriate for listening over actually reading. I don’t use audiobooks for leader development books, most history and biographies, or books I know I’m going to take a lot of notes on. I usually limit my audiobooks to novels, fiction, and select history.
- Do the research on the book before you commit it to audiobook. If it is a history book or biography, does it include pictures and/or maps that are necessary to access in order to understand the story best? If so, I usually steer clear of those books as audiobooks. For example, my first audiobook was East of Chosin, by Roy E. Appleman. It’s an amazing book, but I didn’t have access to the maps, which limited my understanding of what was going on at times.
- Set up a system to record your lessons from the book before you start the audiobook. As I stated in Part 3 of this series, you need a method to record quotes or insights from the book. Doing so for an audiobook will be challenging. Find a way to do so that works best for you, whether that is taking notes on your phone, voice memos throughout, or keeping some 3×5 cards with you to write down while you listen.
- When I complete an audiobook I particularly enjoyed, I add it to an Amazon wish list that I maintain of “books to buy.” Periodically, I’ll get the cheapest used copy of some of the books on the list so I can add them to my physical library for future use if needed, or for someone else to borrow.
How to Listen: Try Audible!
Audible, operated by Amazon, is my favorite audiobook resource. You can easily buy the audiobook on your Amazon account and it syncs to your Audible phone app for simple listening. Find out more or subscribe to Audible by clicking the link below.
Books I Recommend You Test on Audible
In line with my considerations above, here are some of my favorite books that I’ve enjoyed via audiobook so far this year.
- Once An Eagle, by Anton Myrer
- This Kind of War, by T.R. Fehrenbach
- Any Malcom Gladwell book: Blink, Outliers, David and Goliath, and Tipping Point (Malcolm actually reads his own books for the audiobook recording and I absolutely love listening to him read them)
- Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
- Blind Man’s Bluff, by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew
- Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
- Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World, by Ian Bremmer
Managing A Multi-Platform Reading Program
Finally, I am usually reading about three books at any time. First, I always have an audiobook lined up. Second, I am reading a hardcopy book at home or when I can bring it with me during the day. Finally, I always have a digital book on my phone or tablet to read during times in public (when having a hardcopy book may not be feasible or appropriate) such as before a meeting, waiting in line while shopping, on the train to and from school, and so on. You can obviously use the Kindle app for your digital reading source. For military service members (CAC enabled services), you can also check out the Overdrive app using the the Navy’s extensive library and use a variety of resources via the Maneuver Center of Excellence libraries resources (such as RB Digital).
Happy listening! I’d love to hear other great recommendations for audiobooks as well!
Next week, I discuss a reading program beyond the bounds of published books and how to best leverage online sources such as social media.
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