I Read More with Audiobooks

I began listening to audiobooks in 2013. I did this out of curiosity, but also as a way of trying to get more reading in each day. I wasn’t sure if this would work. After all, narrated books are slower than reading to yourself. (This assumes you don’t speed up the narration.) On the other hand, I can listen to audiobooks at times when reading would be impractical: commuting, exercising, and doing chores around the house, for instance. Still, it wasn’t clear that listening to audiobooks would lead to more reading–until now.

I recently tweaked the reading list I’ve been keeping since 1996. I added page counts to the list. For audiobooks, I added the page count, and listening time. I wrote a script to produce nice little summaries of my reading. Here is what my reading looks like over the last 21-1/2 years:

Reading List Summary

The green hash marks represent paper books. The blue plus signs represent ebooks, and the yellow @ signs represent audiobooks. Since 1996, I’ve read a total of 683 books, for more than 270,000 pages worth of reading. That averages to 31 books per year, and about 12,500 pages per year. The average book length over the course of 21-1/2 years is 404 pages.

In order to see if I have read more with audiobooks, I needed to establish a baseline: how much did I read before audiobooks? I started reading audiobooks in 2013, so I ran a summary of my reading through 2012. Here is the results:

Reading list thru 2012

In the 17 years between 1996 – 2012, I read 501 books, not one of which was an audiobook. I averaged 29 books per year. The average book was 386 pages. And here is the key statistic for our purposes today: I averaged 11,381 pages of reading each year.

Next, I ran a summary of my reading since 2013, when I began reading audiobooks. Since I want to capture complete years, I ran this through 2016. That gives me four years of reading data with audiobooks. Here is the results:

Reading List 2013-2016

Between 2013 – 2016, I read 159 books, 132 of which were audiobooks (that’s 83%). I averaged 39 books per years, ten more per year than the previous 17 years combined. The average books was 459 pages, which tells me I was reading longer books in those 4 years. Most telling, I averaged 18,255 pages per year. When compared to the 11,381 pages of the previous 17 years, it is pretty obvious to me that audiobooks let me get in more reading than before I listened to them.

An interesting side-note: When I started keeping track of the books I read in 1996, I did so with the goal of trying to read a book a week; that is, 52 books a year. In the 21-1/2 years since, I hit and exceeded this goal only once. That was in 2013, my first year listening to audiobooks. I read 54 books that year, most of which were audiobooks.

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