With 4 classes, 3 hours of sleep, 2 internships, and 1 brain cell left, there simply isn’t enough time for all of the books that this semester has in store for me. So, I’ve taken to Audible as a means of fast-tracking my reading. But just how many books can I consume in 12 hours?

I’ve heard over and over that college is about working smarter, not working harder. While I do feel like I’ve been working pretty hard (and not feeling very smart) for quite some time now, I have really taken that advice to heart when it comes to reading. Audiobooks, I have found, are a convenient way to actually consume a book in its entirety (rather than just finding a summary) with less time and less effort than sitting down and reading the old-fashioned way. I listen to audiobooks while I walk to and from campus. I listen to audiobooks while I do the dishes. I listen to audiobooks while I grocery shop. And, most importantly, I never listen to audiobooks at the normal speed. How many audiobooks can I listen to in 12 hours? Let’s do some math!

Audible allows the listener to change the speed of the narration, ranging from 0.5x to 3.5x in increments of 0.1x. Audible saw us watching our lectures on 2x speed and said that wasn’t good enough. Audible said dream big. Audible said 3.5x speed is something we not only deserve but absolutely need.

I am mostly reading memoirs for my classes (psych major woo woo), which average out to about 10 hours per book at 1x speed. So, if I listen to books at 1x speed (like a loser), I can read approximately 1.2 books in 12 hours (12 divided by 10).

Of course, I don’t listen to books at 1x speed, so let’s kick things up a notch. When I first start listening for a day, my brain can fully process a book at about 2x speed. At this speed, I can read about 2.4 books in 12 hours (one 10-hour book at 2x speed is five hours. 12 divided by 5 is 2.4). Pretty good, but not good enough.

Throughout the day, my brain starts to adjust to the fast-paced talking. Everyone I speak with in real life sounds like they’re in slow-motion. All I know is high-speed dialogue and metaphors. Audible is my world now. As my brain gets used to the speed, I can raise the rate just a little bit more.

For each hour that passes, my brain habituates to the fast pace enough to increase the speed by 0.2x. After the first hour, I shift the pace up to 2.2x. Then, after another hour goes by, I move to 2.4x. By the end of the 12 hours, I have maxed out Audible’s top speed, now listening to my books at 3.5x (and perfectly comprehending every word, of course).

Because I don’t know how to find the total number of books I’ve read while taking into account the changing speeds each hour, let’s say I spend the first seven hours listening at an average speed of 2.7x (2.0 + 2.2 + 2.4 + 2.6 + 2.8 + 3.0 + 3.2 + 3.4 all divided by 8). Then, I spend the last five hours listening at 3.5x.

One 10-hour book at 2.7x speed will take 3.7 hours to complete, meaning I can finish about 1.9 books in the first seven hours of my listening (7 divided by 3.7). Let’s round that up to two whole books. One 10-hour book at 3.5x speed will take 2.8 hours to finish, so I can almost listen to another two whole books in the last five hours of my listening. I like to be optimistic, so let’s also round that up to a solid two.

Finally, our grand total is approximately four fully-read, fully-comprehended books in 12 hours. I thought that would be a bigger number if I’m being totally honest, but four whole books is certainly leaps and bounds better than what I could read on my own in 12 hours, and I got to do it all while going about my normal day rather than staring at the book pages. So I’ll take it!

Now, just for fun, let’s compare this to how long it would take me to actually read that many books. I’m a notoriously slow reader, which is one of the reasons I have turned to Audible in my times of despair. I just took a reading test, and it seems I read about 226 words per minute. If the average book that would take 10 hours to listen to on Audible is about 86,000 words, that means that it would take me approximately six hours to read one whole book, leading to a total of 2 books in 12 hours.

So there you have it, folks, audiobooks for the win! There’s no time to waste – find that Youtuber promo code and start listening now!

Very literal photo interpretation of audiobook via Pixabay