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Sorta Random Sunday: Are Audiobooks Worth It?

This is a plea for help. Or at least a plea for understanding. I have never listened to (read?) an audiobook. But it seems like everyone else is doing it. So, I’m asking, are audiobooks worth it?

Why haven’t I listened to any audiobooks?

I love books and I love reading. At any time, I am generally in the middle of reading a book. My favorites are non-fiction and tend to be in the self improvement genre.

And I have to say, in the past I would never had read a self improvement book. I would have seen that as a weakness. However, I thankfully realized that this was akin to me avoiding personal finance because I was scared of it and burned out. In any case, now I love these types of books. (Here is a great one by the way from another doctor.)

But I’m kind of old school in this regard. I love holding and reading actual books. I don’t use electronic readers. Just can’t. Don’t like them.

audiobooks worth it

And then, by extension, I haven’t bought into the audiobook trend.

I do see advantages that could make audiobooks worth it

Despite my stubbornness in sticking with material literature, I do see some advantages.

Some people argue that they can get through an audiobook faster. I’m not sure that would necessarily apply to me as I get through books pretty quick.

The biggest advantage that I see is the ability of audiobooks to convert dead time into more productive leisure time. You will note that I specifically am not calling this time “productive.” Because that is not always the goal. Down time is necessary and good. Not something to be judged. Built-in recovery time has been a key to my personal and professional growth.

But for me, reading (or listening) to books is leisure. So, the ability to take some dead time, like my commute, and convert it into leisure time is very appealing.

But my main concern

Really, my main concern is retention.

I tend to be one of those people who read a page or paragraph. And then maybe I’ll need to re-read it again once or twice. Or I might need to close my eyes and think about how some tidbit applies to me. Sometimes I need to take a moment to let a topic or statement sink in so I can grasp it.

Traditional reading is great for this. It just kind of naturally lends itself to this type of introspection.

With audiobooks however, it would seem these idiosyncratic habits are more difficult. Right? Or am I wrong? I feel like I would have to keep pausing or rewinding to find the exact point in the recording that I need to get back to or re-listen to.

Second, and maybe this is even more relevant, I am a very focused person. But at any time, my mind (like I think anyone’s) is prone to wandering and jumping from topic to topic.

This definitely still happens when reading. But I’m more locked in so it doesn’t happen as often as it otherwise would.

With audiobooks, I fear my mind wandering would be even more of an issue.

So, what do I do?

I don’t have a conclusion here. Like I said, this is me asking for help and maybe some perspective.

So, what do you think?

Are audiobooks worth it? Should I give it a shot? Have you? What has your experience been? What books should I start with?!

Let me know in the comments below!

(And if you are looking for recent action-packed personal finance resources, here they are! Or you can watch my free Masterclass Webinar on The 12 Steps to Financial Freedom for Physicians here!)

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected].

    7 thoughts on “Sorta Random Sunday: Are Audiobooks Worth It?”

    1. Hey Jordan! idk if there’s any reason for you to know me (finished my training same time as Ara Salibian), but I’ve been following your blog for a while and am also on the real estate investing journey, albeit definitely not as far along. Love all the transparency in your posts btw. Back to the question at hand, I started listening to audiobooks during my wife’s pregnancy, and am finding some books are great in audio format. More straightforward content with less math seems great, philosophical stuff, or anything similar in format to podcasts you listen to would translate into good audio book material. I listened to gary keller’s “the millionaire real estate investor” on a road trip and i think i absorbed it well enough, just an example. anyways, thanks again for your commitment to financial education / well-being and hope to see you at a conference some time!

    2. My daughter (also a surgeon) listens to audio books in the car driving to and from work. She seems to retain. We listen to fiction books on long car rides; as your kids grow that might be useful for you too. And maybe listening to a great fiction book might contribute more to the plan to have leisure time. Audiobooks are expensive! If you borrow your audio books from the library or download to your cell from Libby (you just need a library card from somewhere to use it), you will save money! Also, I review children’s books on my YouTube channel ‘Great Books for Kids Reviewed by Michelle Marcotte’ lots of new American and Canadian authors (including me – two children’s books on Amazon this year and one on the way!)

    3. I listen to medically-themed podcasts on my 40 minute drive to work to get into the right mindset so when I arrive I am already “in the zone”. On the way home I listen to non-medical content, 2-3 generally short news podcasts with disparate political leanings (to hear both polital sides’ views). I have found listening to medical content on the way home from work occasionally makes me second-guess some decisions I made that day and that is not a good way to decompress.

      On longer roadtrips I prepare by downloading several audiobooks from our public library. I have lately been revisiting some of the classics I had read in high school (several Hemmingways, Gatsby, A Separate Peace, The Chosen, Heart of Darkness, etc). I can listen on an ear bud while my family does their thing.

    4. We all have our preferences about how we consume information. My husband likes audio and videos. I massively prefer to read.

      Sometimes I listen to the radio or podcasts in the car. But I am a thought worker for 40 hours a week, so for a lot of my drive time, I prefer to mull over the thoughts or work challenges I already have. If I had a boring and predictable commute, I would probably listen to more, but with random drives to client sites, I am good just driving.

      As a consumer, I encourage you to do whatever suits you to consume information. But as a vendor, albeit an online one, you might at some point discover that you have to create videos or podcasts for the listeners and watchers out there. On other hand, blogs attract readers. You could go on YouTube all day long, and some of us would never visit you there. We are here because this is how we like to consume information.

      I will watch when I have to. If I purchase an online course, and it contains videos, I will watch them. Occasionally when seeking tech help, I learn more by watching a video of someone else doing the thing.


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