Commuting is a drag. There was a point in time that I had a 5 minute commute to work, then I decided to move and my company said I could just work from home. When it came time to switch jobs my walk down the stairs turned into a 45 minute (one-way) commute – and that was on a good day. So for the past two years I’ve found myself in the car for a minimum if an hour and a half each day. It seems insane at first thought, but I am a bit surprised how I have gotten used to it.

How do I pass the time? There are two main things I do that keep me sane: 1) Eat Sunflower seeds – this is mainly to keep me awake. I find I don’t get drowsy if I am constantly eating something and Spitz BBQ sunflower seeds are my addiction. 2) Listen to audio books.

Why audio books? A few reasons. First, I’m not much of a music person. I never have been. I will listen to music on occasion, but it gets old fast to me. I know, I’m strange in this regard. Second, I like learning new things. I don’t really get that from music. Third, there are lots of books I would like to read, but I just don’t have the time. My average weekday looks something like this:

4:00 AM – 6:30 AM: Freelance or independent work
6:30 AM – 7:15 AM: Shower & get dressed
7:15 AM – 8:00 AM: Commute to work
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM: Work my butt off!
5:00 PM – 5:45 PM: Commute home
5:45 PM – 8:00 PM: Family time (dinner, play with kids, etc)
8:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Time with my wife (watch TV, talk, eat ice-cream)
10:00 PM – 10:30 PM: Ready for bed, read, pray

So that is an average day, I wouldn’t say I stick to this schedule religiously, but it is somewhat predictable if nothing is on the schedule. So you can see I don’t really take the time to read. Dave Ramsey often says that the average millionaire reads one non-fiction book per month. So the best way for me to get in all the books I would like to read, is by listening to audio books.

Here are some of my favorite sources for audio books:

  1. Audible.com: this like the Amazon of audio books. (In fact, they are now owned by Amazon). I have a monthly subscription that I pay $14.95 per month for. This gives me 1 credit per month. Each audio book is 1 credit. Also, as a subscription member, you get discounted pricing on all books. If a discounted price of a book is less than $14.95 I will likely purchase it without using a credit and save my credits for more expensive books. I’ve learned that credits will expire if you don’t use them, so this encourages me to continue to find new interesting books to read. I do find that my favorite are self-help type books like Zig Ziglar stuff. It energizes me. I look at the membership price as an investment in me.
  2. BooksShouldBeFree.com: This is a very easy to navigate site with all kinds of audio books created from public domain sources. Check out the top 100 to see some of the great classics available. Sometime is is nice to step away from non-fiction books and just be entertained.
  3. LibriVox.org: This may be a duplicate listing because it seems to me that all the listings in BooksShouldBeFree.com are essentially taken from LibriVox. It appears LibriVox is build on top of WordPress, so I mention them mainly because they are the source we can all thank for these free audio books, but their user interface will not be as nice as the custom interface of BooksShouldBeFree.com.
  4. iTunes: While this integrates well with my iPhone, there are a few reasons I don’t use iTunes much. I have purchased AudioBooks on iTunes in the past and after switching computers and iPhones, I don’t have those books available and I can’t find them in my account history. I’m sure this has improved since the invention of iCloud. Second, they tend to be more expensive. Generally a book selling for $29.95 on iTunes I’ll just find on Audible.com and use 1 ($14.95) credit.
  5. Podcasts: So I know they are not audio books per say, but if you run out of books you want to listen to, check out some podcasts that are in your interest area. The best place to find these are on iTunes, and most of them are free.
So how do I play these audiobooks? I have an iPhone. I found it works great with Audio books. If I have audiobooks in MP3, I can tell iTunes to treat it as an audiobook. This gives me the ability to have all the audiobook features such as 30 second rewind, remembering position, skip when shuffling, playing at half the speed or playing at two times the speed.
I currently use an FM transmitter because I still have the factory stereo in my 2000 Maxima. But I have found that I can’t seem to find a station that is totally clear and I’ve tried a few FM transmitters. Soon I will be installing a new stereo that integrates better with iPhone. I went in to Best Buy last week and found a good stereo can be purchased for $100 and their geek squad will install it for $50 plus parts needed for integration. I believe they said parts for my car will run around $100. It is a bit more expensive because I have the Bose stereo system. So I’m looking at around $250 to get a new stereo installed. I’d say it is a good investment since I’ll be using it 7.5+ hours per week.