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I've always enjoyed the inspiration and entertainment that comes from a great book.
The problem is, I rarely have time to sit down and devote hours of my undivided attention to reading books. My life is just too busy (or so I tell myself).
Fortunately, people in my predicament have another option: audiobooks.
Audiobooks are a great way to consume all the same content from a book while getting other stuff done.
Whether you listen while you exercise, drive to work or mow the lawn, audiobooks are the perfect substitute for people (like me) who would rather read through their ears instead of their eyes.
Unfortunately, audiobooks have their own set of issues. They aren't all created equal.
- Some audiobooks have poor production quality.
- Some are narrated by incredibly monotonous or annoying voices.
- Some narrators have absurdly thick accents or speaking patterns that detract from the message.
Not to mention, some audiobooks are WAY too long (most likely because the original book is long). Not everyone has 100+ hours to listen to a single audiobook!
A few of my favorite books were nearly destroyed when I listened to a poorly executed audiobook rendition of the exact same material. It's not easy to judge the quality of an audiobook when you only have a 30-second preview to go by.
The Best Audiobooks I've Heard
Since I've listened to A LOT of audiobooks in my time (it's pretty much the only way I read anything these days), I wanted to let you know about some of my favorites.
I thought these audiobooks were extremely well done and actually enhanced the original text by adding emotion, inflection, emphasis and even music in some well thought out places.
Some of these audiobooks were so good, I've found myself listening to them , again and again, , just because they delivered such a rich, enjoyable experience.
Curious to know what they are? I'll list them out for you below…
1. Crucial Conversations
Crucial Conversations is a book that several people have recommended to me over the past decade.
When I finally gave it a listen, I was blown away by how much value was crammed into 6 short hours. It was incredible!
There isn't anything fancy about how this audiobook was recorded or produced… it's pretty basic, actually.
What makes it so good? The narrator and co-author, Joseph Grenny, does a superb job of reading clearly, using good vocal tonality in his voice (an important part of explaining how to have a crucial conversation) and he's just an overall easy person to listen to.
Aside from the delivery, this is one of the most intensely useful audiobooks I've ever listened to – I'm really not kidding. I actually found it cumbersome to listen while driving or working out, because I had to hit “pause” every 2 – 3 minutes so I could take notes.
At one point, I actually pulled my car to the side of the road so I could take notes. It was that good.
The advice in this book works and it's not just theory. There was plenty of real-life application that made it directly useful in many aspects of my life. If you haven't given this one a listen, I urge you to get it on your shortlist of audiobooks to hear!
2. Profit First
I've never met anyone who read Profit First and wasn't impressed by it.
Aside from the simple-but-ingenious business budgeting concepts explained in this book (it's sort of like Dave Ramsey's envelope system, but for business owners), I thoroughly enjoyed how the narrator and author, Mike Michalowicz got through the content.
He doesn't just read the original manuscript word-for-word, he goes “off script” many times throughout the book to add further clarification, give real-life examples and help flesh out the material in ways that are much more interesting and informative for the listener.
This is something 95% of audiobooks don't do, which baffles me. I appreciated how this author took special care to package the content so it was more palatable to those who were listening rather than reading.
And I'll mention again, the content of this book is amazing. Whether you're an accounting professional or someone who rarely looks at the numbers, you will walk away with some great new insights from what this book has to share.
3. Can't Hurt Me
The difference is, he doesn't run away from these things like most of us do. He leans into the pain and asks for more.
Some people might call it insanity, but I found it refreshing to hear about how he learned to revel in life's difficulties and squeeze every last drop of strength and personal development out of it.
This audiobook for Can't Hurt Me took a fascinating approach by splitting up the content into a mix of the original book, followed by a podcast-style interview between the author, David Goggins and the narrator, Adam Skolnick, at the end of each chapter.
It wasn't just about hearing the story as it was originally written, but about getting a deeper insight into what went into the story and what lessons the listener should take away. I actually found the biggest lessons and takeaways came from the podcast interview portion (which wasn't even part of the original book)!
This is one of those books you'll actually get more out of by listening to it rather than reading it.
4. Building a Story Brand
One thing most good storytellers haven't done is map out a clear framework by which anyone can tell a great story, and more importantly, how this framework can be used to vastly extend the reach of your business.
Another thing about Donald Miller is, he's not just a great writer, he's also a great speaker, and it shows in this audiobook. His delivery is clear, consistent and easy to listen to for all 4 hours and 56 minutes of this audiobook.
That's another thing… I also appreciated how this entire book was delivered in less than 5 hours (even when playing at the normal, 1x speed). That's an incredible amount of value that can be digested relatively quickly.
One of the first things I look at when considering an audiobook is how long it will take me to listen to it. When an audiobook is over 10 hours long… that's a lot of time to commit to! Remember, a book isn't just costing you money, it's costing you time (and to some people, their time is worth a lot). When a book can deliver just as much value in a shorter time span, that's a BIG plus in my book.
5. Atomic Habits
This audiobook is truly a gem. In Atomic Habits, narrated by the author, James Clear, a lot of things were demystified for me. It helped me understand a lot of the underlying reasons why I do things I don't want to do and fail to accomplish the things that actually matter to me.
Much of life boils down to practicing good habits and avoiding the wrong ones. I got more insight from this book than anything else I've ever seen, read, or heard on the topic of habits.
I think this book can provide a significant paradigm shift and a healthier understanding of how to get where you want to go by understanding how habits are made and broken, and how to make it work in your own life. I took pages and pages of notes from this book and had several “Aha!” moments as I listened to this one. James Clear is also a great narrator and easy to listen to. This is definitely one to listen to!
6. Pitch Anything
Pitch Anything, written and narrated by Oren Klaff lays out a formula that is highly effective when selling, which is something we all have to do, whether we like it or not.
But the lessons in this book apply to more than just the topic of “selling stuff” – it’s really a book on human psychology and how to be persuasive.
This book has helped me to be FAR more effective in my interactions with other people and it can help you too.
I thought the audiobook was executed very well and Oren does a good job of keeping the message entertaining and easy to listen to.
7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
The title of this book is obviously intended to grab your attention, and whether you're a fan of the approach, I think there's a lot of wisdom to be gleaned from this one.
Mark Manson did a masterful job of using many different stories and examples to explain his underlying points.
One of my big takeaways moments from this book was the fact that not everyone shares the same values.
While this should be obvious, it's not something I ever paid much attention to. Likewise, I don't think most people recognize the fact that other people have different views and ideas about matters in life.
When I took time to let this sink in, it changed a lot about how I view the world and other people, particularly those who don't care about the same things I do. It helped me make a lot more sense of people I never would've understood otherwise.
Considering how hilariously profane this book is (be ready for it), it gets pretty deep, and it does so without getting overly-philosophical to the point that the average person won't be able to grasp the concepts.
I also thought the narrator, Roger Wayne did a great job of delivering the text in a way that was fun and easy-to-listen. Again, I also appreciated the relatively short listening time, coming in at just over 5 hours.
8. Thinking In Bets
This book covers some fascinating concepts that are incredibly relevant to everyone's life, especially entrepreneurs.
In this audiobook (narrated superbly by the author), Annie Duke elaborates on the misconception that bad results always come from bad decisions. The truth is, there are plenty of examples where good results came from bad decisions, and bad results came from good decisions.
This was something I learned from my friend Billy Murphy years ago (also a professional poker player). In many of life's biggest decisions, there are ways to mathematically quantify which decisions are most likely to lead to the desired outcome. Even if the results don't turn out as desired, that doesn't mean a decision was a bad one.
When I grasped this concept, it gave me a lot of comfort in making sound decisions without having all the information (something we all have to do every day) and realizing that when a path is thoroughly analyzed on the front end, there is no shame in results that are turn out to be wildly unlucky.
Linchpin is one of those perspective-changing pieces of work that makes you look at your life and career path in a whole new light. Sometimes the biggest revelations we have in life are actually pretty obvious, but we still need someone to spell it out for us, and that's exactly what Seth Godin does in this book (narrated by the author).
I think this book is important because it touches on some of the core truths that all working professionals need to be well-aware of – the importance of being an indispensable and providing value on a level that makes you irreplaceable because of the unique qualities that only you can bring to the table.
When I started putting this mentality to work, my life changed forever (and yours can too).
10. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen Covey wrote (and narrated) this masterpiece over a quarter-century ago and it still leaves a lasting impression on just about everyone who reads it.
The subject matter of this book isn’t so much related to “real estate investing” as it is a solid guidebook for living.
If you ever have the chance, I would strongly encourage you to pick this one up and absorb what it has to say. You’ll be glad you did!