Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ode to Audiobooks

Several months ago Nathan Bransford had a post asking whether or not listening to an audiobook counts as reading. About half of the responders said yes and the other half said no. I thought it was interesting because I am a major audiobook "reader."

I think the answer to his question is "yeah, sort of."

Listening is obviously not just like reading. The reader's voice, the inflections that they use, the speed at which they read can all add to (or detract from) the words on the page. But whether you listen to or read a book the end result is the same--you know the story and can talk about it with other people who have read it.

I listen to about the same number of books that I read. I find that a few years after I consume books I can't remember which ones I listened to and which ones I read. I know the story and that is the important thing.

I love to listen to audiobooks in the car, while I do dishes, fold laundry, mop the floor, and make dinner. Sometimes my husband and I will listen to an audiobook in the evening while we play a board game or do a puzzle together (this makes us sound like old people--we're not. We're just nerds.).

Reading time has become increasingly difficult to scrounge up as I've had children. Some days I can't get three minutes together to sit down and read a book, but I can always listen to one. So, whether or not it counts as reading, I am very thankful for audiobooks and their ability to keep me connected to the outside world.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Do you hate them?

23 comments:

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I just blogged about this not too long ago. I listened to my first audio book driving to a writers' conference. I'd never bothered with them before because I thought I didn't have the attention span. But I LOVED it! It's a great way to "read" a book when you're driving! I'm going to try your idea next time my husband and I play scrabble - give me something to do while I impatiently wait for him to put a word down.

Lisa and Laura said...

I love listening to books in the car or when I'm working out! Although I'm not sure I'd count it as reading. One of my favorite things about reading is the quiet. I also think the quality of the narrator has a big impact on how much I enjoy the audio book which isn't necessarily fair to the author.

Natalie said...

Oh I agree, a narrator can make or break an audiobook. I've turned off several because the narrators were so terrible.

Kristi Faith said...

Honestly-I haven't listened to an audio book since...well, I can't remember. I think it was a Stephen King book. At any rate-I believe the reason I haven't listened to one in so long is because I prefer the voices in my head. :P LOL I know, I'm crazy.

However-I would probably "read" a lot more if I did listen to audio books-as you said, Natalie-since having children, sitting down to read is usually the last priority that falls to the wayside.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I used to listen to books in my car all the time. I should get back into that habit. I love that you listen to books while you play board games. That sounds like a fantastic time! :)

Susan R. Mills said...

I prefer actually reading, but I used to listen to audio books all the time. My mom and I used to drive together to visit my grandparents 8 hours away when my kids were little, and we listened to as many audio books as we could during those drives.

Marie Devers said...

I am an audiobook fanatic. I have been known to clean and exercise much more than I normally would because I don't want to stop "reading" my audiobook.

melane said...

I've never listened to an audiobook, but since I have young children I might give it a try. Sounds like I could get in more reading that way.

Georgina said...

Good question - I'm glad you asked it. If they work for people, then who is anyone to say that they are less legitimate than reading. After all, when we were young, that's how we learned to read, by being read to. I like audiobooks for non-fiction - ie: instructional CD's, meditation, personal growth, etc - because I can listen to them more than once and get something new out of them each time or reinforce something I am trying to learn. When I listen to fiction on audiobooks though, I tend to fall asleep and end up losing my place. - G

Anita Saxena said...

If I didn't listen to audio books:
1. I wouldn't make it to work. I have a 3.0 hour round trip commute and easily fall into bouts of road hypnosis/sleep. Soooo an audio book is a necessity.
2. It gives me the opportunity to "read" because there isn't time to do real reading and work on my WIP
3. I wouldn't get to please my fetish for British (Jim Dale) and Irish accents (the dude that narrated Air Man)
4. It keeps me from talking on my cell phone when I drive
5. I wouldn't be as open to "reading" books (since I rent most of my audio books from the library) that I wouldn't usually purchase
6. Would have never "read" the Lost Symbol (I bought this audio book and it was worth every penny). Dan Brown is AMAZING

Patti said...

I used to think it was cheating to listen to an audiobook, but I have since been converted. I commute 40-50 minutes to work and back. Having a book to listen to really makes the time go by faster.

Linda Kage said...

Ie listen to audiobooks when I can't get into a story by reading it. Is that weird?

L. T. Host said...

I've honestly never listened to an audiobook, and I honestly don't know if I'll ever try. I probably will, someday, but we'll see. I just love the whole book experience, so much. Also, I read pretty fast on my own, so I can usually get through a physical book much faster than I could listen to an audiobook.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I've never listened to an audio book, but with time being so crunched I may just have to go that way. I'm a slow reader which doesn't help.

Heather Sunseri said...

I can't listen to audio books. I simply don't hear them. I might have adult ADD, I'm not sure, but I cannot concentrate on the words being spoken. My mind wanders everywhere and I tune out the voice. Am I weird?

LeMira said...

As a teacher, I always told my students that listening to a book counted as reading because it still took some skill to keep listen and comprehend what the narrator was saying. I need to get into audiobooks more. Perhaps I'd get more done around my house and enjoy more books at the same time!

Jody Hedlund said...

With five children, I absolutely rely on auido books!!! I can't tell you how many times I have to stop when I'm reading the book out loud for one child or another. It makes the process of reading painful. But with audio books I can multi-task and we can enjoy listening to the book. And it doesn't take us a year to finish!

Tamika: said...

Honestly, I have never tried audio books, because I felt like it took away from the experience of escaping. Transporting myself to a place far from home.

I have small children too, and grabbing free moments is next to impossible. But I love the escape of the pages too much to switch.

Blessings to you...

Amy Tate said...

I've never been able to get into them. There's something special about silent reading. I'm such a visual person, and audiobooks don't meet that need. I need to see the language.

Dawn VanderMeer said...

I haven't tried any yet, but I plan to. I'm so visual that I wonder if it will grab me the way a book does. When I read, I like to stop and look at certain paragraphs. I have friends (some are writers, some are not) who LOVE them. I'll give it a try at some point!

I like your picture! :)

Erica said...

I listened to an audio book on a long trip a once. I really enjoyed that, and it made the trip go faster- it was a 13 hour one. Other than that, I don't really listen to them. I love music too much, when I listen to anything, that's what it is.

But- I think it does count, because you are gaining the knowledge the book. I don't think it matters whether you actually read it or not. But that's just my opinion. I'll definitely do it again on a long trip :)

CKHB said...

I have a 2-year-old. I used to have to stay in my daughter's room with the lights out until she fell asleep... iPod to the rescue! And now I listen while running errands, and my husband and I also listen to audiobooks while on long drives. I'm in the "yeah, sort of" category along with you!

My first audiobook? Stephen King's On Writing. Which I had already read, but loaned to a friend, and I didn't feel as bad repurchasing it since I got it in a new format.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Love them, especially on road trips. The Ramona books are really fun to listen to as a family.