Reading Texts is Easy, especially When You Listen to Them

Reading by Listening

I was recently asked how I manage to read so much. Beyond dipping in and out when I can, I have taken to listening to texts. This though has been a bit of a journey.

Beyond my consumption of various podcasts, I initially started out listening to texts via audiobooks through Audible. Some of the great books I enjoyed were Start With WhyIt’s ComplicatedFinnish LessonsA More Beautiful Question, TribesToo Big To Know, Smarter Than You Think, Mindsets and David and Goliath. As a workflow, this worked to a point. Although the recordings were always enthralling, they involved a lot of data on my phone, as well as made it a challenge to take note of ideas. In addition to this, I was limited to what was available on Audible.

On the advice of Steve Brophy and his great post, I started using Lisgo as a way of listening to blogs and articles saved to Pocket on iOS. This was useful, but again limited to what could be saved to Pocket.

With a desire to listen to more books, I found a way to listen to Kindle books via the iOS app using the Text-to-Speech function in Accessibility. This involves simply reading out what was on the screen. To make this even easier to use I set up triple click function to activate the Speech-to-Text. The only limitation with Speech-to-Text is that it does not read ‘textbooks’ (although they seem rare). Sadly, this workaround does not work with iBooks.

Since moving from an iPhone to a Nexus device I enjoyed the ability to listen within the Pocket app. While I have explored the use of ezPDF Reader to listen to PDF documents. This app allows a plethora of options, however it sometimes has too much going on and can be a little finicky, especially when stopping and starting a text. Subsequently, I am still looking. I have also found the workaround for listening to Kindle less useful. Although Talkback will read Kindle books (including textbooks), it is a little more limited. Firstly, it always starts at the top of the page, which can be annoying if you want to stop it at any point. Secondly, there is no ‘triple-click’ shortcut found on iOS. Although you can set a button for temporarily turning it on and off, you still need to go through Settings to turn it on and off, which can be annoying.

So that is me, these are some of the ways that I have taken to improving my productivity. For some, the idea of listening to a computerised voice reading a book just is not aesthetic experience. In the end, it is up to you. As always, thoughts and comments welcome, especially if you have have tried anything different.


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Aaron Davis

I am an Australian educator supporting schools with the integration of technology and pedagogical innovation. I have an interest in how together we can work to make a better world.

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Reading Texts is Easy, especially When You Listen to Them by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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