IS LISTENING TO AUDIOBOOKS THE SAME AS READING? – Marilyn Armstrong

Responding to:

Open Book Blog Hop – Are audiobooks considered reading?


I got addicted to audiobooks while I was commuting to work. There were periods when I was driving as much as 5 hours a day — just to get back and forth to work. Living in Massachusetts, even when the distances aren’t huge, the traffic is heavy in every direction. I think if I hadn’t discovered Books On Tape and after that Audiobooks.com, I’d have lost my mind. I was in the car for many hours a day. I was at work another eight to ten hours.

A Kindle and a Bluetooth speaker for listening to audiobooks

By the time I got home, there was cooking, trying to spend a little quality time with Garry — which wasn’t easy because for many years, he wasn’t home on weekends. He was getting up for work when I was going to bed. There was also my son, shopping, cleaning, and just trying to keep the house from becoming a wreck.

I was younger then and managed to do a lot of things at a time. Running laundry while straightening up the rest of the house. Learning to cook meals that were quick to prepare and easy to clean up after.

There was no time to read. Since reading had always been my escape from the world, after a while, I felt like the walls were closing in.

Audiobooks saved my sanity. I would get to work and sit in the car just a few extra minutes to get to the end of a chapter. It absolutely saved my sanity. These days, as I’ve gotten older and find reading print more difficult — Garry thinks I have a terminal case of eye-strain — I listen far more often then I read. I have trouble focusing on a printed page. It’s easier to write than read which probably accounts for my appallingly bad proofreading.

I actually prefer listening to reading for other reasons. The speed of speaking is much slower than the speed at which I read. I’m a very fast reader which is great when you are trying to collect information for work but isn’t so great when reading for pleasure. The human speed and level of a voice especially when it’s a really good narrator helps me be absorbed by the book.

It’s like watching a really good movie, except I get to create the pictures and they are always perfect.


I wanted to add a short note:

A lot of how you respond to audiobooks versus words on a page depends on why you read and how you absorb the information. For many of us, we no longer find reading comfortable. Our eyes are old and close vision gets dodgy. Quite a few people lose their sight as the years pile up. Garry is part of a group now that produces audio for those who can’t read whether they are blind or otherwise unable to hold a book in place, or otherwise have problems that make focusing on a page difficult.

If you can read and like to hover over the text, going back and forward to read, then reread sections, you’ll probably be happier with pages. True it’s easy to drop off and lose parts of a story if you read at night, but rewind is pretty good for getting you back to where you were before you nodded off.

If you read during the day, you will probably drift off less easily.  If you are commuting, I have to assume you are awake. I found music in a car puts me out like a light and classical music is so absorbing I forget I’m driving.

I need to have something that makes my mind engage if I am going to stay awake at the wheel.

I do listen to poetry on audiobooks, though typically, I have read the poem before I listen to it and/or will read it after I hear it. To me, poetry is the most musical of all types of writing and deserves to be heard out loud.



Categories: Audiobook, Author, Books, Entertainment, Marilyn Armstrong, Performance, reading

Tags: , , , ,

14 replies

  1. I still can read, although I seriously consider buying a Kindle doon. My eyesight is that appalling. Spoke with my mum yesterday. She is blind and I worried about how she cd spend her days. Her seniors’ residence has a 100% shutdown, not even family visits are allowed any longer. They have no chance of even going for a walk. I asked if I sd read to her on the phone 📖 and she consoled ME by saying: You know, I’m just going to listen to all my CDs again, to my audio books and I am by far not in the worst position… 🎧🎶💿

    Like

  2. I’ve started to listen to audiobooks occasionally. I think I got more out of “Becoming” by hearing Michelle Obama read it herself and I love listening to Steven Fry read Harry Potter but mostly I still read, these days mostly using the Kindle because I can read it in bed more comfortably than a book and I can take it with me if I’m out.
    So far I haven’t tried listening to audiobooks while travelling because I don’t like earbuds and my headphones are a bit bulky to put in my handbag. I often listen to, rather than watch TV if I’m doing something else at the same time and I tend to do the same with audiobooks I listen when I’m doing the ironing or knitting or something like that. When I’m reading a book I’m totally focussed on that.

    Like

    • I used to live in books. As my eyes have aged, I found it more and more difficult to read anything longer than a magazine article. Luckily, I’ve been reading in audio for 17 years. I have more than 2000 books. Even if all I do is reread books, I think I’ll never run out.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Another thing we have in common, Marilyn. I also love audio books and listen to a lot when I drive, bake and do fondant art. Commuting for 5 hours a day is heavy going, you are marvelous to have managed it all with a husband who worked nights.

    Like

    • It was a mistake. The problem was that there was no work closer to home and we needed the money. I only had to go into the offer three days a week, so I thought I could handle it. I was wrong. I basically collapsed in about 7 months. And the car was getting beaten to death, too. It was 140 miles each way from my house to the laboratories of Pfizer in Groton, Connecticut. If traffic was light the drive took about 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours EACH way.

      Audiobooks saved my sanity. After that much commuting and listening, I found it difficult to go back to staring at pages. I still do read books when there’s no other way to get the story, but I’d much rather listen.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Something about being read to is very appealing. Maybe it’s because my mother read to me as a child. I also think it helps to develop a vivid imagination.
    Leslie

    Like

  5. I had an accident several years back that damaged my eyes. For months all I could do was listen and I had a tape machine and literally “read” dozens upon dozens of books that way. As I am with you, and spell checking is difficult, they often pass me by. I’m delighted they have audio books and I really must look into getting some from the library. The first ones I listened too, were rather horrific. I’m hoping the quality of the audio has improved.

    Like

  6. Listening and reading are definitely not the same, but both can be enjoyable! Like you, I had a lengthy commute and discovered audiobooks (thank goodness!) and found I was able to react more while listening than in a comfy chair at home reading. Depending on the narrator (oftentimes the author), they could make a huge impact to a story. I was laughing out loud with Mindy Kaling reading her essays, and literally cried while Michelle Obama narrated her “Becoming.” I couldn’t react as openly with a book. Some other perks of listening are the languages. Take Trever Noah’s “Born a Crime.” There are at least 10 languages written in the book, and it was a treasure to hear him read the lines my eyes would have skipped over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Born A Crime was one that Garry and I listened to together. His ability to master languages is astonishing! The other narrator who does books about Africa is Lisa Lescat who is also amazing. Sometimes I read her stories just because she is such an extraordinary narrator.

      Liked by 1 person

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