It’s no big secret that I’m a fan of reading. In fact, I think that reading is one of the most essential habits that a lawyer should develop early in their career – it will catapult your knowledge, your communication skills and your ability to interact with a wider audience.
Ideally, you want to be a consumer of good content, all the time. But it’s easier said than done.
But My Eyes are Tired
The down side is, of course, that lawyers spend a huge amount of time each day reading – emails, letters, briefs, cases and legislation.
So I can understand that the last thing you necessarily want to do at the end of a long day is to pick up a book and hold your eyes open with toothpicks while you attempt to consume information.
Of course, instead what often happens is that you stare at the page for a few minutes, and then realise that you have actually just zoned out.
It Won’t Get Better
The next thing we often try and do is just to read when we’re “up to it”.
There’s a few problems with this strategy.
First, it doesn’t develop a good habit. Habits are things that we do frequently, not just when we get a chance.
Second, you’re going to find that you will find excuses not to do any reading and your books are just going to stay on the shelf.
Do EBooks Solve the Problem?
I like Ebooks – they save some of the effort that comes with carrying a book around with you (especially if, like me, you don’t carry a bag normally).
Ebooks also have the added advantage that they don’t take up any space – so if you don’t have a large house or an apartment, you can still collect as many ebooks as you want.
The downside is that they are still working your eyes.
Even on the Kindle, Kobo or E-Reader (which I prefer to read on, as it hurts my eyes less) you’re still working out your eyes, and it’s going to be hard work.
On a phone, tablet or computer screen your tired eyes are still going to be a problem, especially with high back-lighting on those devices.
Enter Audio Books
At this point, some of you are saying “duh, Chris, I’ve been using audio books for years now”.
And I congratulate you.
But for me, they are relatively new and so I wanted to share the concept with you.
Audio Books have come a long way since the days of buying a pack of 10 CDs to load into your computer.
They are now:
- easy to acquire;
- high in number;
- a better audio quality;
Advantages of Audio Books
Audio Books for lawyers also have the following added advantages:
- You’re listening, not using your eyes – so there goes the problem with your eyes being tired
- Done right, they integrate with iTunes and other audio readers – which I expect you have;
- When read by the author, you can get a real sense of how it was supposed to be read;
- They are mobile – you just need your phone and you’re right to go. That means on the bus, in the car, doing the gardening or wherever you need to be – you can be listening to a book.
So if you’re struggling to find time to read, can I encourage you to give an ebook a go? I recommend Audible, who are by far (as far as I know) the biggest repository of ebooks. It has the added bonus that you can sign up for free and get a free book to get going with. Click the link below and get started today (it’s an affiliate link so I get a small commission if you sign up – but it’s still free for you)
Disadvantages of Audio Books
Of course, like everything, it’s not like Audio Books are a complete solution.
Firstly – it’s more noise. One of the things that books and ebooks have going for them is that they are silent, and having a few minutes where you are not surrounded by noise is always a good idea.
Second, some audio books are truncated, for reasons I don’t understand – which means you don’t get the book in full.
Third, images, graphics and tables are obviously not there – narrators do various things to try and get around this or provide a link to the resources, but it’s still a bit annoying sometimes in a figure-heavy book.
Finally, I have read a few papers suggesting that audio and ebook formats don’t offer some of the same intangible benefits as reading on paper does.
Give it a Go
It’s free to get started – so give it a go and let me know what you think.