How I Read 136 Books In 2019

And the plans to expand this to more books in 2020

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Photo by Geoffrey Arduini on Unsplash

Audiobooks For My Commute

The biggest contribution to the quantity of reading accomplished last year revolved around audiobooks. A few years ago I found my interest and time available to read dwindling away to almost nothing. What had been a voracious habit through most of my life was down to less than a handful of books a year.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Listening Faster

One of the wonderful and amazing things about technology these days — there are some very smart engineers behind the apps and devices that we use on a daily basis. A method that I highly recommend to listen “faster” is to increase the speed of your reading. This doesn’t mean going out and taking a class in speed reading.

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Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash

Walking the Dogs

Another great way to introduce additional reading time into your routine is to use it to motivate yourself to get more exercise. The dogs need to be walked every day and I want to read more everyday. So, both of these become easier when I am engrossed in an amazing book and want to listen more. That is easily achieved through taking the dogs for a walk.

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Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

Finding The Right Devices, Equipment, And Listening Solution

In my year and a half listening to audiobooks, it has taken quite a while to get everything settled and working in a nice and easy, efficient manner. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different devices and solutions to achieve a good combination that works for you and your listening habits. Here is my current listening solution:

  • Listening Device — This started with a pair of regular earbuds, but after the connection port on my phone was damaged I wanted to find some wireless earbuds. While expensive (~$180), I settled on a pair of Jaybird Vista bluetooth earbuds. These were chosen because they work well if only one earbud is in use, which is a big consideration for me as I am deaf in one ear and only use the right earbud. These are small, recharge quickly and are overall a great set of wireless earbuds and work great for my use case
  • Audiobook Source — While Audible is great, it is definitely tied into the Amazon system. I prefer a little more independence for my target solution. Therefore, I set up my own audiobook server! Booksonic is an open source, self-hosted audiobook server. After getting it up and running I can load lots of books on it and have a ready-to-go library that is accessible anytime from anywhere. This solution does require having a personal server to set something like this up, so the barrier to entry may be higher than you want to pay, but this should be able to run on a raspberry pi so even if you don’t have a server pc lying around, it shouldn’t run more than about $30 to get one up and running from scratch
  • Audiobook Player — After trying and testing pretty much all of the major players on the Google Play store, my favorite is Smart AudioBook Player. This is a great player that checks all of the boxes I need in a solution including cost (free), playback speed (up to 3.0X), a sleep timer, and a great feature called audio boost that amps up the output volume (great for airplanes)
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Photo by Perfecto Capucine on Unsplash

2020 Goals — eBooks

There are many times and instances where audiobooks are not the best method for reading. At night before bed is a great example. So when I got a Kindle Oasis for Christmas at the end of 2019, this new tool allows me to explore other areas of reading, like at bedtime.

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Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

2020 Goals — Real Books

What?!? Read an actual, physical book? I have a rather large collection of bound stacks of paper at home and it would be good to get back to reading them at some point. This is another goal for 2020. Again, this is not a means to hit a certain count, but to explore different areas and making reading a big part of my daily routine.

2020 Goals — New Genres

If 2019 was my year of Science Fiction reading, 2020 is yet-to-be-determined. Last year was a who’s-who of luminaries including John Scalzi, Martha Wells, Yoon Ha Lee, Kameron Hurley, Richard Morgan, Douglas Adams, and Cixin Liu. This year I already have queued up some other genres to get into including biographies from Walter Isaacson, some nonfiction from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and, because I am curious, a few books by Andrew Yang. While there might also be some Frank Herbert, Neal Stephenson, and Iain Banks on that list as well, 2020 will be about exploring new genres and areas.

Written by

Engineer. Manager. Husband. Father. Wanna-be Writer. Editor-In-Chief & Grand Poobah of www.kevinwanke.com

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