PCGuyIV from Thoughts & Theories poses a weekly word prompt Truthful Tuesdays. This week his question is
Aside from those with physical limitations that would impair their ability to actually read, does listening to audio books count as actually reading in your mind? Why or why not?
I think reading is reading regardless of the form of the book. Appreciation of the written word comes whether it’s a physical book, an e-book or audio book. The range of sensory appreciation differs though.
Some people like the feel and smell of physical books. They like the heft of paper and the texture of the page. They like the subtle interaction between reader and book, as they turn the page and the book gently resists.
By the same token, audio books appeal to a different range of sensory reactions. If you’re like me, I process more visually than aurally. While I can read once and understand, the same words spoken once, often need repetition. In my old job, I used to do a lot of client presentations. Early on, I learned to have visual prompts with minimal words and to always repeat important points. Why? Because the audience always read the text and no one remembered everything I said two screens ago.
By the same token, when I listen to an audio book, my eyes seek out other things to focus on. Other commuters in the train. Birds flying outside the window. Cars driving by. Unless it’s an exceptionally good book and a very good narrator, I inevitably drift off.
The issue is that books are not written to be spoken. There’s a reason why book writing is not screenwriting. That narrative is not dialog. That stand-up comedy is funnier than its transcript. On the rare occasion that I’ll listen to an audio book, it’s because of travel. Like when I’m sitting in economy class and the seats are so narrow that I can barely exhale much less hold a book.
But I do like e-books. They were my salvation when I was living abroad in China and I couldn’t find enough English material to read. While I could have toted books back and forth, the size and weight of them quickly racked-up. Electronic books are more portable and with the integration of e-libraries and purchased books plus auto-synchronization across my e-reader, phone and tablet … I always have my latest book on-hand.
Lately, I’ve been happy for the changeable font sizes and back-lighting. Something to do with age and the limiting conditions that affect my ability to read comfortably. Who knows, maybe that will evolve into me loving audio-books too. Time will tell.