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Booking Through Thursday: Audiobooks

December 10, 2015

bookthursdayThis week’s Booking Through Thursday asks:

I’m guessing most of you like reading (or why would you be here), how do you feel about audio books?

For me, “reading” means using my eyes, not my ears. As much as I acknowledge their usefulness while doing chores or using your hands, I only ever use audiobooks for the rare long drive–listening, no matter how pleasant, is not READING, yet people persist in telling me they like to read and that audio books are their favorites. Am I the only one to feel that’s just not the same thing?

My first reaction to this question was to get grouchy at the questioner’s response. Of course, consuming audiobooks is reading! Audiobook lovers are book lovers and readers and every book has its reader! To say otherwise is reading snobbery at best, and flies in the face of things that are important to my librarian ideals.

My initial grouchy reaction came from a few things: exceedingly fond memories of my grandpa stretching out in his chair, listening to an audiobook; my mom luring herself back to sleep with an audiobook and headphones; talking to people who say “I’m not a reader,” kind of dolefully, just because the printed page isn’t their favorite mode of consuming stories.

Saying audiobooks don’t count as books or reading gets me grumpy about accessibility of books, and acceptance of all readers finding stories they enjoy. I don’t want any lover of stories to feel excluded from the community of avid readers. And I want to believe that it’s the job of readers to invite more people in, and expand what defines sharing in the love of reading. Saying something doesn’t “count” as books and reading is the opposite of that.

Possibly, also, I hadn’t had enough coffee.

For me, personally, audiobooks fulfill a different function and experience from print books. I use them to lull myself to sleep. So, I’m asking for something different from my audiobook stories than I am from my print books.  Yes, I want a good story, but I’m often drawn to books I’ve read before, or to children’s books, or dreamlike fantasy. Something where the story lets me slide nicely into dreamland. Here are some of the ones I’ve liked.

With the recent addition of podcasts to my listening-at-night, why-am-I-awake? roster, I guess I am forced to acknowledge that, at least for me, audiobook consumption is more a listening activity than a reading activity, not interchangeable with my print book consumption.

But still, that’s an individual stance. And, as for anyone who tries to say that some thing or some other thing doesn’t “count as real reading,” I will get decidedly grouchy at you. No matter how much coffee I’ve had.



3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kwizgiver permalink
    December 10, 2015 4:56 pm

    Great answer. I count audio books in my yearly total reads, so I consider them books even though it’s a different skill set.

  2. December 11, 2015 3:04 am

    I have a two hour commute on weekdays and two Rottweilers that need walking so I read a lot of audibooks. I also lullaby myself to dreamland every night listening to an audiobook. I’m on my second LG Bluetooth headset bought specifically to facilitate easy listening. Without audiobooks, I would miss out on several hours of reading.


  1. Audiobooks in the Classroom: A Field Guide – Steven Jay Cohen

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