How to Read a Book 3X Faster

Just One Book Read so Far

This year I had a goal of reading just two books. One was The Passionate Programmer, the other was Effective Java. The first book is a slightly technical book targeting software developers. The second is a highly technical book written for software developers.

Great Book but not Available in Audio Format

As the year came to a close, I finally finished reading The Passionate Programmer. I failed miserably at completing Effective Java. The book is really difficult to read. I did not place a priority on finishing the book so that never happened.

I was thinking of giving up on the target of two books this year when I got an idea from John Sonmez. John runs his own business, Simple Programmer, yet still has time to read fifty or more books per year. How does he do that?

Audible and Other Audio Books

What John does is subscribe to a service, Audible, that sells books in audio format. John listens the the books while driving and exercising. In addition, the Audible player allows him to vary the speed of the playback. John usually listens at a 2X to 3X speed. So for a short three hour book, John might get through the book in just one hour.

I decided to give Audible a try and ordered SoftSkills by John Sonmez. I also picked up How to Win Friends and Influence People. has a special giving you two books for free when you join the service. If you do not want to pay for books, LibriVox offers free public domain books.

The big advantage with Audible is access to great books that are not in the public domain. Another plus is the Audible book player which is the best book audio player I have ever used. The player does a much better job of remembering your reading position than most mp3 players. Another awesome feature, at least for me, is the button that allows me to rewind the audio 30 seconds on each press.

I get a kick out of listening to British voice actors so I pick books with these narrators even when I have a free version of the book available.

A Texas Rock Rose

Why Does it Work?

So how do audible books allow me to read books 3X faster? I do it by listening to the books in my car and during my lunch break. That’s time that normally goes to waste. When you add up the number of hours driving, it adds up to a lot of hours.

When I say 3X faster, I mean that over a period of time reading at least three times more books. You can listen at faster speeds but I only listened at 1.5X for thirty minutes when I was in a rush to complete a book.


So what are the results for 2016?

After three months of listening to audio books, I have listened to six audio books. That’s how I met my target of two books read this year. That’s 6X faster than what I did the rest of the year. It adds up to a total of seven books when I include the one paper book I read.

With a full year of listening to audio books, I might do a lot more or a lot less. So the original title of 3X faster stands. It should be easy for anyone to increase the number of books read in a year by just switching to audio books when possible.

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