Five top reasons to choose audiobooks (over physical books)

Busy Londoner rediscovers joy of reading with audiobooks. Learn faster, conquer commutes & maximize knowledge! #Audiobooks #Learning

Five top reasons to choose audiobooks  (over physical books)

Over the last year, I have been absorbed with audiobooks. It is personally refreshing to explore the world of books again, after not reading for many years. Since graduation, there wasn't any personally compelling reason to pouring over books.

Since starting on this blog, I heard someone saying that all successful CEOs read a book a month. Wait, a quick Google search says this is closer to five books monthly! Elon Musk apparently spent a staggering 10 hours a day reading when he was younger. And, Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos were also veracious readers.

It is probably NOT the amount of books read that lead to their success. Rather, they are just extremely determined and curious individuals. Books are an excellent way of elevating knowledge or starting to explore new areas.

There is huge amount of information stored away in books - literally anything can be learnt from the right book. Imagine that the author scouring the world for cohesive and comprehensive information on the topic that you want to know. Now you get access to not only the knowledge but the writer's experience, thoughts and processing.

Keep reading on to find out my personal reasons for choosing audiobooks over regular texts.

Busy life, maximize learning

Being constantly on the go, in a sprawling metropolis like London - it is useful to have quick access to audiobooks. Commuting an hour to work is commonplace, especially considering housing costs in the city centre. Audiobook apps on my phone lets me whip out any book within seconds. So, I get to listen to something new that enriches my day; even if it is a few minutes in length.

I have two small kiddos at home. Having my hands occupied at most times is an understatement (more like all hands on deck at all times!!) Between pushing a buggy, or having one child on a front facing carrier, I can still catch upon quick reads with hands-free controls via my headphones. (See link) !

Nb. I do not advocate leaving or ignoring your kids - this is to be done responsibly (ie. when preparing milk bottles or quick downtimes in between naps).

Whether trekking up stairs to get to train platforms or hopping across the platform 'gaps' on London's tube, I can still continue my book. Streaming of books is now seamless. I can choose to download the whole book on my home WiFi the night before too. You can do audiobooks when driving too! In fact, that was part of my key to success in preparing for my physician fellowship (postgraduate) exams. I would just plunk down a list of mp3's on repeat in my car while driving. Knowledge eventually diffused across into my head into this thick skull of mine. 🤣

The key here is accessibility.

Minimizing Clutter in a busy world

Living in a metropolis does not afford its residents with the ample space (both in terms of storage and headspace!). Storage comes at a premium especially when I need the space for buggies, high chairs and when my bookshelves are filled with bedtime tales or nursery rhymes.

Having a digital bookshelf solves all of the problems above. Automatically sort your books by title or author. Have an unlimited number of books without ever worrying about bookshelf space - that's so liberating! Find or sort by author or title at a few taps. And do not forget digital bookmarks. Bookmarks have made life so much easier by letting me resume right at the exact word where I left off.

Less clutter, more focus on the learning. I get to take my bookshelf anywhere I want to, going on a trip, commute or travelling to a nearby town for work. I do not have any inertia at all because all the packing and selecting has been taken care of for me.

Hearing is the most battle tested method of learning

Learning via auditory means has its roots in the early days of humanity. It was the main means of transmitting knowledge, from prehistoric times. I imagine that it was of absolute necessity - meaning if you heard something wrongly it could mean being caught out by a lion in the wild.

Humans have adapted to learning via hearing. We have an evolved memory centre (called the hippocampus in the brain) and dial in quickly to stories. I don't think it is a coincidence that the hippocampus has a direct connection to the nerves that channel audio information! Hey, there happens to be a whole audiobook that I recently digested that covers the power of storytelling.

As compared to reading, or writing, apparently we can process information at a much faster speed when it is in auditory form. This ties into our next point on speed.

Speedy yet deeper learning

Adjust the audiobooks' speed as necessary! You can go as slow or fast as you want. Interestingly, the founder of Speechify is going up to 9x normal speed. (A startup focusing on text-to-speech). That is a bit TOO fast for me, though I have personally tested it at 2x speed on a good day.

Yeah, what about speed reading you ask? There is a lot less friction in flexing the auditory processing velocity muscle though! For speed reading, often people have to practice specific skills to skim through text quickly. This includes skills such as ignoring vowels, reading the middle of the book, and using specific software to highlight the first three letters, etc. Building the auditory processing muscle, to me at least is a lot more passive and can even happen in the background.

I have to make a disclosure at this juncture. I might be biased here and do have speed issues with reading. Maybe I am dyslexic but I am not formally diagnosed (heck, somehow I had survived all those years of anatomy texts in medical school). Having audiobooks has supercharged my learning from books, and that is what matters to me. I have gone from an average of zero to one book a year to six!

The relaxation factor that I get from audiobooks is way more than a regular book. Having a good read, while all cosied up in an armchair is the introvert's perfect definition of relaxation. Imagine all that PLUS being able to lean back, close your eyes and let your imagination wander. Add in a nice crackling fireplace, and a cuppa of fresh brew third wave coffee - Absolute bliss.

Combine with visual

For those of you who are visual learners, it is not all gloom! I am a visual person myself, and immersing in a good infographic always seals the deal for me. Good audiobooks do come with attached PDFs of the illustrations contained in the book.

So, you have the benefit of combining both types of learning. Some authors even go so far as to restructure their book content differently to tailor specifically to fit the audiobook format too. I personally like to recreate the diagram in my mind, before referring to the author's version. Utilising one's imagination is a sure way of retaining the information in your head.

Hearing information automatically and subconsciously invokes the imagination. On a biological basis, again our good friend introduced above - the hippocampus plays a large role. I think the proximity of the auditory center in the brain in relation to the hippocampus speeds up the cross-sharing of information. Further, activating the hippocampus early immediately seals the long-term memory formation.

And what's to stop one from picking up a hardcover, and getting the author's signature at the end of an audiobook. I don't underestimate the novelty or sentimental factor, which can also be linked to powerful learning for some people.


Coming out of school, I needed extra motivation to get over the inertia of learning. For the longest time, I was just purely focusing on being effective in the workplace (the hospital). This was mostly trial and error, and after a couple years I was stagnating. Perhaps I lacked an external force to drive me?

Listening to audiobooks has rejuvenated this thirst for new knowledge inside of me. It is as if an unassuming, ordinary stone was uncovered, and with it unleashing a spring of fresh, flowing motivation. I do hope that you can also enjoy an audiobook after reading this article. Even if you had gotten just one of the benefits, it would be totally worthwhile.

Interested in starting out with audiobooks? Then look no further with this following article on how to get audiobooks (in progress!).

David Tang