With my library fines paid off as of last week I am privileged to once again use my local library’s audiobook section. I have a long-weekend road trip coming up and need something for the drive. I just started listening to On the Way to the Wedding, by Julia Quinn.
Is there a difference between reading a book and listening to it? Can you “read” an audiobook?
I think there are several differences. Differences, I welcome. I do consider listening to an audiobook as reading. I hear the story whether it is the voice inside my head as I read or the narrator’s voice as is spoken. Either way it’s still a voice that transfers the written words to my consciousness.
Sometimes I prefer to listen to a book, like when stuck in a car for hours. It is easier to get pulled out of an audiobook. Listening takes skill if you are multi-tasking. I’m able to listen while walking or driving given the proper road conditions. One moment of splitting my attention between confusion at a crosswalk versus listening and I find myself having to rewind the audiobook. Which is a good thing, dealing with reality takes first priority, but sometimes I just sit on the couch and listen, even though I can read faster. It feels like a luxury to slow down and allow myself the time to listen.
Others tout that you can’t skim when listening, but I think skimming just manifests into tuning out. When I catch myself tuning out I assume one of two things. Either the book isn’t exciting enough to hold my attention, or I need to stop multi-tasking and pay attention. (Pick one activity!)
As a writer, visually reading helps grammar and spelling sink into my subconscious, but nothing beats listening when trying to absorb cadence and pronunciations.
And I cannot be the only person who is immensely comforted to know I’ll still get to experience stories even if my eyesight dims as I age.
What do you think? If you listen to an audiobook does it count as reading? Which do you prefer?