Are you an avid reader? Do you sit down and read in your spare time? If not, you may want to consider making this a part of your regular routine.

There are many benefits to recreational reading. For example, reading stimulates your brain. This can help promote healthy brain development, keep your mind sharp, and improve your memory over time. Reading can help you learn to process visual and verbal information more effectively.

An activity as simple as cracking a book may even help prevent cognitive disorders later in life, like Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. That’s right: regular reading may be a literal life-saver. But of course, there are other benefits beyond neurological health, too. Reading will:

  • Expand your vocabulary, thus helping you communicate and understand others more effectively.
  • Improve your focus and relieve stress.
  • Expose you to new information and ideas, broadening your world and your understanding of it in the process.
  • Help you develop your analytical skills, making you more adept at understanding information.

The Challenge: Finding Time to Read

We’re living in a pretty busy age. Many of us simply don’t feel like we have as much time to read as we’d like. Fortunately, you don’t have to limit yourself to sitting down with a paperback or hardcover, though; there are options that can help you squeeze in much more reading than you might realize. After all, there are lots of different ways to consume books. For instance, you can download an eBook on your phone or tablet, which makes it easier to bring your reading on the go. You can even multitask by listening to an audiobook on your way to school, or while you do chores or other activities.

A lot of people are resistant to these formats. We totally get that; after all, there’s a certain appeal to holding a physical copy of a book in your hands. For many of us, listening to a novel, or reading one off a tablet screen, just doesn’t feel right.

We’re not suggesting that you totally abandon physical books in favor of digital copies. Instead, it can be beneficial to embrace a variety of different formats. And, once you get used to them, those alternate formats for books could become an indispensable part of your routine. With that in mind, let’s explore the benefits of these formats. Who knows? You may find that they’re just what you’ve been looking for.


Like the name implies, an eBook is just a digital copy of a book. It could be published in a variety of file formats, with EPUB, MOBI, AZW, and PDF being among the most common. These can sometimes be purchased directly from the publisher (especially in the case of indie or small print publishers). Most users, however, buy eBooks from an online distributor like the Amazon Kindle Store, or Barnes & Noble’s Nook Books section, both of which also provide digital content like comics, magazines, and newspapers. These stores also routinely feature select free titles, too: no need to spend anything, just create an account.

Of course, you’ll need a compatible device to read eBooks. Most mobile devices on the market will be compatible with the major file formats. However, you can also purchase a dedicated eReader, like a Nook or Kindle. These will have limited functionality compared to a smartphone or tablet, but will more accurately replicate the experience of reading on black-and-white paper.


Again, the name is pretty self-explanatory here: an audiobook is just a recording of a book in audio form. They’ve been around for decades, previously being sold on physical media like cassettes and CDs. However, audiobooks really took off with the arrival of the internet and digital distribution.

Audible, which was acquired by Amazon in 2008, is the biggest name in audiobooks. They carry hundreds of thousands of titles at retail prices, but they also offer a monthly subscription service for regular readers. There are other services on the market offering similar services, though, like Scribd.

While listening to books can seem odd at first, there are distinct benefits to audiobooks. You’ll be shocked at the amount of reading you can get done by listening to audiobooks in the car or while doing other chores. Even better, you don’t need a specialized device like an eReader or tablet; any smartphone can download, store, and play audiobook files.

Books…for Free?!

As mentioned, there are easy ways to buy both eBooks and digital audiobooks. There is another method to take advantage of these offerings, though, and you don’t even have to spend a dime. I’m talking about Overdrive, a free app offered through a partnership with thousands of libraries in the US.

Once you download the app, you’ll have access to a large library of eBooks and audiobooks that you can read or listen to for free. All you need is a library card to login, and you’re set.

In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits and limitations of Overdrive, and see what paid services like Audible and Scribd have to offer. Be sure to check back for more info on this topic.