Rediscover the Joy of Books

Too busy to finish that 500-page novel? Audiobooks may be the stimulating, guilt-free solution.

ADD/ADHD discovers audiobooks ADDitude Magazine

Audiobook Tip

Before buying or “checking out” an audiobook, listen to a free clip from it to make sure the narrator and the content can hold your attention. And check out for reviews, suggestions, and narrator recommendations.


People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) love books. That’s not surprising, given our appetite for new stories, ideas, and information. But limited time, energy, and focus keeps us from reading as much as we’d like.

I’m a textbook example of this phenomenon. Though never the world’s fastest reader, I was always raiding bookstores and libraries, returning home with books galore. But before cracking open any of them, my interest would shift, or my energy would wane; unwrapped and unread, my new treasures quickly became clutter.

And the must-reads that friends and clients told me about? I couldn’t get through those, either. I’d sit down at the end of the day only to discover that my brain was mush. I’d reread sentences without absorbing anything.

Then I had a revelation: I didn’t have to read books. I could listen to them. That is, I could listen to audiobooks. No, I’m not talking about those beat-up cassette tapes you find in public libraries. I’m talking about high-fidelity -- and highly economical -- audio files that can be downloaded from the Internet.

The new audiobooks are tailor-made for ADDers. They can be played on computers, MP3 players, or CD players, making it easy for multitaskers to listen while doing something else. As long as your computer has a high-speed Web connection, you can download an entire audiobook -- up to nine hours of narration -- in as little as 90 seconds. And, since many audiobooks are narrated by their authors, they’re likely to hold our attention.

How much do audiobooks cost? Believe it or not, they typically cost 20 to 50 percent less than ink-on-paper books. Some titles are free!

Since switching to audiobooks, I’m reading more, and my comprehension has improved. I listen while surfing the Web, doing dishes, driving, and even during my morning walks. Best of all, it’s not just about entertainment. You can get all sorts of nonfiction titles of particular interest to ADDers. I especially enjoyed the audiobook version of Copy This, by ADDer and Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea, and I’m looking forward to “reading” Overcoming Life’s Disappointments, by Harold S. Kushner.

Here are some easy ways to find audiobooks:

  • Get them free! Check out what’s available at your local public library before shelling out any cash. Many library Web sites link to or similar services, which offer a wide selection free of charge. Once you download and install the required software, you’ll be able to download several audiobooks at once. The files will stay on your computer or MP3 player for up to two weeks. Free audiobooks are also available from several Web sites, such as, and new sites are springing up all the time.
  • Buy them from the publisher or from an online audiobook retailer, such as or
  • Rather borrow than buy your audiobooks? Clubs like work a bit like the popular movie-rental outfit Netflix: Members are mailed one or more audiobooks at a time on compact disc, then return the CDs in a prepaid mailer. Typically, the CDs are recorded in MP3 format, allowing an entire book to be stuffed onto one or two discs. A book recorded in the conventional CD format might fill up 12 separate discs.
  • Join an audiobook club. For a small monthly fee, members can download one or more books each month. I recently joined; each month, I pay a fee to download my selected amount of books.

Once you get into the swing, you’ll stop “accumulating” books and start reading them. Happy reading!

NOTE: Product names, models, prices, and specifications were current as of print. Please leave a comment below if you are aware of more accurate and up-to-date information.

This article comes from the October/November 2006 issue of ADDitude.

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TAGS: ADHD Products, Learning Disabilities

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