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Over the last 12 months I’ve consumed a lot of audiobooks – an average of 2 a month. I still prefer reading books for learning, but I’ve realized that audiobooks are also great for that purpose and much more. If you aren’t sure if audiobooks are for you, here are seven reasons why you should start incorporating audiobooks into your life.

1. Preference

Some people prefer audio over text for learning and maybe you’re one of them. If you don’t like reading, experiment with audiobooks and see if this helps you with learning.

2. Better Retention

I haven’t found any conclusive evidence that reading is better than listening (I do know that reading is an ineffective way of processing information), but what I do know is that if you combine the two that you’ll get the best of both. Audiobooks are great to supplement previous knowledge to solidify information.

If you have read a book before and then listen to the audiobook version, you’ll retain and reinforce much more information. I’ve noticed this myself with a lot of books that I’ve read and reviewed in the past.

For example, I’ve read and reviewed Getting Things Done a couple times but some of the concepts really stuck with me for the first time when I finished listening to the audiobook version. I’ve noticed this with other books too such as Think and Grow Rich, Switch (review) and Delivering Happiness.

3. Faster Learning

One of the main advantages of audiobooks is that you can pace the information you consume. I like to play my audiobooks at 1.5x or 2x speed and it doesn’t affect my comprehension. If you want to go through a lot of information, this is a great way to do that.

4. Save Time

As much as we discourage multitasking, sometimes it can be useful and effective. Audiobooks are great for that. You can listen while you’re cleaning the house, folding clothes, shaving (yes I’m weird like that) or anything else that doesn’t require much focus.

It’s especially effective when you’re commuting. I used to listen to tons of Anthony Robbins audiobooks on my way to work and I learned a lot of things while I was stuck in traffic. Plus it was really uplifting and made me more engaged at work.

5. Uplifting

Speaking of, just like listening to good music can uplift your spirits – so can audiobooks.

Reading inspirational quotes and passages are great, but it doesn’t beat listening to a person that motivates you to do great things while you’re learning at the same time.

6. Effective

Some books are better to consume over audio than over text. I find that conceptual books and biographies are better off consumed over audio than text.

Books like Good to Great cover big concepts that are best consumed over audio. You don’t need to know the exact details of the research as long as you understand the major concepts. The same goes for biographies – I usually don’t care about where the person ate breakfast every Sunday or where he/she went to work, as long as I grasp the major events of that person’s life and grasp the sequences leading to major breakthroughs of that person.

On the flipside, I would avoid listen to audiobooks that cover a lot of detail and require you to take a lot of notes, e.g., books about neuroscience or how to books.

Once a while you’ll buy a book, read it and find yourself really bored reading it. Sometimes it’s hard to get through a “dry” book but I’ve found that usually they are great to listen to. If you ever find yourself in such a situation where you know the book content is great but it’s hard to read, grab the audiobook version and go from there.

7. Convenient

Audiobooks are really convenient. You can have them on your phone, iPod, computer and in the car. This makes the content accessible and you can easily continue where you left off from last time.

Whenever I’m reading a book, I need to find myself a quiet place and almost force myself to be fully present. With audiobooks I find it much easier to pick it up and start consuming – regardless of location, noise level or time of day. It’s just so convenient.

Audiobook Recommendations


If you’re new to audiobooks, here’s a quick guide.

I would recommend using Audible as your resource (I use it myself and love it). They have a wide range of audiobooks, it’s integrated with Amazon and syncing content across different platforms and devices is easy with them.

For audiobook recommendations, here are some of my favorites (some are non-productivity related). In no specific order:

  1. Eat That Frog
  2. The Power of Full Engagement
  3. Getting Things Done
  4. Think and Grow Rich
  5. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
  6. Rework
  7. Delivering Happiness
  8. Good to Great
  9. Motivational Legends
  10. Switch

There was a big discussion in The Dojo, our online productivity community, on favorite audiobooks so that is a great resource too.

If you have a great audiobook to share, let us know in the comments below!

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Thanh Pham

Founder of Asian Efficiency where we help people become more productive at work and in life. I've been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, and The Globe & Mail as a productivity thought leader. At AE I'm responsible for leading teams and executing our vision to assist people all over the world live their best life possible.

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  1. Excellent! I want to frankly agree with all your seven opinions. As the question is not to debate on which the best is but to educate the general public on the use of audiobooks and also the importance of it.
    Although I practiced both, I prefer audiobooks when I want to also do other things (i.e. multitask). I find it more interesting to listen to an audiobook, especially when the other tasks (that I want to combine with an audiobook) doesn’t require much attention.
    I found your reasons very interesting and educational.

  2. As much as I’d love to spend more time with audiobooks, I feel like I can only deal with them on my commute or when I’m trying to relax. The same goes for podcasts.
    Listening to stuff even when I’m working on unimportant tasks makes me lose my pace. Like most people, I’m very bad at multitasking.

  3. Save your emails in Pocket and then press ‘Listen’ (text to speech) is enabled… so you can listen to all your emails, or any article.
    Or you can ask your phones siri (or android) type person to read your emails…

  4. I think that would depend on what kind of learner you are. I’m visual-spatial, and audio learning is probably my weakest area. It forces me to slow down to the point where I lose comprehension; I would probably get very little out of audio over reading the book. In most cases, for any online learning, I turn off the audio and read the close captions.

  5. Don’t be trapped by the misperception that new is better than old. Audiobooks are an excellent way to enjoy the classics. Sources such as Librivox and Loyal Books not only offer them for free, they have free apps the simplify the downloading and listening.

  6. This is a great blog post, and I think an idea that not enough people incorporate.

    I have tried recommending listening to audio books to friends in the past, and most of them feel that it is something that you only do on a long road trip.

    A couple of my audio book tips:

    * Check your local library. Mine has A LOT of audio books. Most are in CD format, so I will keep them in my car, and listen to them. Audio books can be expensive compared to normal books, so this can save a lot of money. The key is that you have to reserve the book – you can’t just walk into the library and expect to find the book you want sitting there.

    * Get a radio with a USB port installed in your car. This way you can listen to your iPod through your car radio, and then load the audio books on your iPod. This way you can listen to it when driving and not driving.

    * Zig Zigler called this “Automobile university”, because years of listening to audio books in your car was about equivalent of a college degree.

    * Bill Gates was recently on 60 minutes and showed his huge collection of “The Great Courses”, which are taped versions of college lectures and courses.

    Love your blog – keep up the great work!

    1. Hey buddy good to see you on here! Those are great tips – I especially like the idea of “Automobile university”. When I used to drive to work, I would listen to audiobooks all the time. I can definitely testify that if you do it every commute, you’ll learn a lot more than you’ll do in school.

  7. I loved and still do love audio books, my brother is extremley dyslexic (not in the middle class, @that is why he cannot read aged 6) he is 14 and still cannot read amazingly or even as I did aged 6 soooo… but because of this we bought many an audio book (I know all the harry potters inside out) I still listen to them they are a great thing for going to sleep to, doing homework too and driving/ sitting in a car with

  8. I started listening to audio books at 2x speed about 6 months ago. It’s amazing how it almost seems natural. You do lose a little patience afterward, though, when you hear someone ssspppeeeaaakkk slooowwwwlllllyyy haha. I love it though, definitely a great way to learn while in a car or on the train.

  9. Great tip!

    I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately (even in the shower LOL) and changing some of them to Audiobooks should be nice

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