How to read more books without breaking your schedule

As a child, I read ravenously. Any novel I could get my hands on - especially if it was a Hardy Boys mystery - I devoured it in days. Through high school and, regrettably, most of college, I hardly read at all. I guess the course work picked up and that had something to do with it. But I think I had just forgotten the joys of reading.

In the Fall of 2013, I wandered into this quaint little bookstore. It was an old house that the city had grown up around and, somehow, it escaped being demolished in favor of a Walmart or a McDonalds. From floor to ceiling, books were stacked in mountains requiring you to shuffle around 50+ books just to dig one out from the bottom of the unstable tower.

Each room of the house held a different genre of literature and was crammed as tight as could be with bookshelves creating tiny isles that were only one person wide. Somewhere in the caverns of that bookstore, I found a book that I had been wanting to read for quite some time. For only a few bucks too. In the pages of that book, I rediscovered its magic.

During 2014, I carried a book with me at all times, sneaking in a paragraph when I could. I finished out the year having read 36 books - by no means an unnatural feat, but I would wager far more than I had read in the past four or five years combined. In 2015, I began working full-time and realized how little time I had to sit down and read.

How do I read more without sucking time from other areas of my life?

A friend of mine who spends quite a bit of time on the road for work, told me how he managed to read so many books - Audible. Of course! I had forgotten all about the humble audio book that had shortened so many road trips and chores in my childhood. After downloading Audible and realizing how expensive each audio book is (often, more than the print versions), I found an app called OverDrive which connects you to your local library and allows you to rent audio books for free with your library card! Brilliant.


Leverages your mindless tasks

One major benefit of an audio book is that you aren't required to set aside time out of your day that could be allocated to something else. Because you can listen to a book while you're hands and feet are busy performing other tasks, you can be "reading" while you're weeding the garden or, in my case, driving home from work. I have a 30-minute commute each way giving me 1-hour of "reading" time a day without changing my schedule one bit.


Virtually instantaneous

The second benefit is that you don't have to wait for a book to arrive in the mail or travel to the bookstore to purchase it. You can download it to your phone and within minutes you're listening to your book.


Wherever you are

The third benefit is that you carry it with you at all times on your mobile phone. You're not required to lug around a physical copy of the book everywhere you go - just a pair of earbuds. Stuck in an unexpected traffic jam? Plug up and listen to a riveting biography. Waiting for your child to get out of soccer practice? Sit back and enjoy a sci-fi novel.


I've been able to listen to six books in the past two months - six more than I would have otherwise - just during my commute! You might complain about not being able to scribble notes in the margins, underline, dogear, or smell the pages - and I totally get that - but you're not going to get to do those things anyway. At least the audio book allows you to enjoy the content. Quick. Convenient. Free. Simple.