In the first seven months of 2019, I not only had read as many books as I did by the end of 2018 – I increased that number by 50 percent. And, I still have several months left in the year to keep reading.
How did I hit such an increase? I started believing that audiobooks counted.
Maybe it was because I love the feel of a paper book in my hands or maybe it’s because I grew up as a librarian’s kid. Either way, somewhere in the back of my head I believed that audiobooks didn’t count as actual books.
Which, in retrospect, was pretty foolish.
At the beginning of this year, I was reading books on habits (as if that’s a surprise) and was confronted by the idea of unwritten rules that we follow. These rules could be like believing that you can only eat certain foods for breakfast when food is food and you can eat whatever works for you for breakfast.
One of my key unwritten rules? “Listening to an audiobook doesn’t actually count as consuming that book.”
To be sure, reading and listening are different. But acting as if a book was worthless to me if it was taken in by my ears instead of my eyes was ridiculous.
I know myself well enough to know that to focus on nonfiction books properly, I read with a pen in hand and note things in the margins. But, I could certainly try listening to fiction (which I wanted to read much more of this year). I downloaded apps that let me check out audiobooks for free using my local library card (see if Hoopla or Libby have a partnership with your library – they have eBooks too!) and checked out a few old favorites.
And pretty quickly, I was hooked.
I started listening to books instead of music or podcasts on long drives and flights. I started listening to books as I fell asleep. I caught myself turning them on at every opportunity.
Title after title flew by and grew my list. While it was great to have heard so many good stories and to see the list grow, I was surprised by another outcome: I started picking up hard copies of books more frequently too.
As someone who would read entire books in a night as a girl but who found herself reading a few books a year as I got older, I have come to learn that love of reading is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.
And, for me, the key to redeveloping this love came in the form of audiobooks. Maybe it’s the key for you too.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I was right in the middle of a good book.