Changing Reading Habits

Back in 2012, I did some math (this alone is an amazing fact worth noting) and figured out that I wasn’t reading many “real” (i.e. physical) books. In 2012, of the 64 books I had read in the calendar year, 28 were physical books, 22 were eBooks, and 14 were audiobooks. Rounding up those percentages, that’s 44% physical paper books, 34% eBooks, and 22% audiobooks.

I kept careful records in 2013 so I’d be able to compare, and see if how I read morphed at all. The results:

In 2013, I read significantly more, clocking in at 98 total books read. (Sidenote: This is probably the most books I’ve read in a single year since middle school, when I had carefree, jobless summers in which I crammed book after book after book.) Of these, 46 were audiobooks, 29 were eBooks, and 23 were physical books. That’s 47% audiobooks, 30% eBooks, and 23% physical books. That’s almost a complete flip-flop in formats! While eBooks maintained the middle ground as my second-most-preferred method of reading, and maintained a similar percentage in the 30% range, audiobooks and physical books completely switched places. I clearly read significantly more audiobooks then I read in any other format this year.

Why did this happen? I don’t think my reading method preferences have changed, necessarily, and that from now on I’m going to be consistently reading more audiobooks. If polled, I would definitely not agree with the statement that I like audiobooks best (though I am very fond of them). And I don’t think my changing percentages are a reflection of reading habits changing in the large reading community or an indication that there’s a  general movement towards preferring digital over physical books.

Rather, I think these numbers reflect a very personal situation. I think that I’ve been in more situations in 2013 that allowed for consumption of audiobooks rather than physical books. For example, in June, my office changed locations which increased my total time in the car for the commute to an additional 3 hours a week, at minimum, so that probably helped increase my audiobook consumption. Also, I think these numbers are a reflection that…
1) My life was busier in 2013. I often have an audiobook on when I do housework; reading a physical book, on the other hand (excuse the pun), requires complete dedication of my mind and hands. I can’t hold a book with one hand, have my eyes on the page, and fold laundry with my free hand!
Also, my eBook reading (22 in 2012) increased slightly (29 in 2013) while my physical book reading (28 in 2012) decreased slightly (23 in 2013). I think this trade off was due to the fact that I was often out–doctors waiting rooms, waiting in the car to pick up my little sister, etc.–where I had access to my phone, and thereby my Kindle reading app, since, being the forgetful person I am and the fact that I downsized to a slightly smaller purse that makes it slightly harder to pack a book at all times, I was often without other, more traditional forms of reading materials.
2) I think these numbers also reflect that I’m getting more creative in how I’m managing to squeeze more reading time into my life. If you round out the numbers, while I read roughly about an equal amount of eBooks (22 in 2012; 29 in 2013) and physical books (28 in 2012; 23 in 2013) in a year to year comparison, I nearly TRIPLED the amount of audiobooks I read. That’s about triple the amount of hours of my life I dedicate to listening to audiobooks in 2013!
While I’m proud I read more this year, no matter the format, at the same time, I certainly hope to find more time in 2014 to read more and multitask less! Most of the past year I was so busy doing a million things at once (and worrying about all the other things that still needed to get done next) that I felt like I was unraveling at the seams. Reading will always be a priority, but having a few reading sessions this next year, curled up under a blanket with nothing else to do or worry about? It sounds like a nice thing aim for.