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nursenblack

Reading vs Listening

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Disclaimer:  In no way is this thread meant to offend anyone or attack anyone's personal preferences.

 

 

This topic recently came onto my radar when my friend was telling me all of the books she's been going through this summer, but then told me they were all audiobooks.  My same friend and I started a Facebook book club a few months ago, and last month's book that was selected was a bit more difficult to get.  I ended up having to listen to it on audio while I painted some rooms, which I really enjoyed.  The thing is I feel weird about counting it as a book "read" and didn't even add it to Goodreads or here.   My question is:  Do you count listening to audiobooks as books you've read or not?

 

I have listened to some entertaining books on audio in the past, but have only ever completed three of them.  I never added them as "read" anywhere. I personally feel like I'm cheating myself to count them toward the amount I've read, especially if I have a goal set.  I sort of equate it to listening to the radio serial shows back in the '40s and '50s or listening to a podcast.  I do think that audiobooks are a great way to stay entertained while doing a tedious task though.  I'm curious to know what other readers have to say about the subject.

Edited by nursenblack

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Raven   

I don't count listening to audio books as having read the book the audio recording is based on; you are just listening to someone else read the book to you.

 

As you say, there are a lot of great audio books out there, but it's the person who reads it that sets the tone and puts their own spin on the words. 

 

Reading a book means your brain does all that, and you have time to pause and reflect on text which you don't get to do with an audio book. 

 

Also, I'm a pretty slow reader so it takes me a lot longer to finish a book myself (running my finger along the bottom of each word, sounding them out ;) ) so I wouldn't put the two in the same category as the latter takes a lot more effort on my part!

Edited by Raven

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I don't count listening to audio books as having read the book the audio recording is based on; you are just listening to someone else read the book to you.

 

As you say, there are a lot of great audio books out there, but it's the person who reads it that sets the tone and puts their own spin on the words. 

 

Reading a book means your brain does all that, and you have time to pause and reflect on text which you don't get to do with an audio book. 

 

Also, I'm a pretty slow reader so it takes me a lot longer to finish a book myself (running my finger along the bottom of each word, sounding them out ;) ) so I wouldn't put the two in the same category as the latter takes a lot more effort on my part!

Yes, exactly!

 

I think I do have a little guilt from listening to our June book selection on audio instead of reading it.  The whole point of my book group is to get people to read and read something good that they may have not read otherwise.  I probably won't do that again, for my own piece of mind.  Now, if I could just get my co-admin to stop mentioning them in posts. :D

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Lumo   

I really like audiobooks in some situations - for example aeroplanes, I simply cannot read for any length of time on a plane, but I have spent many a 10 hour or so flight listening to a book for 9 hours of it. However, around the house or in bed, I find I cannot concentrate if listening to an audiobook and my mind wanders very quickly.

 

I would count the books I have listened to as 'read' - some of them were epic (being listened to over several flights) and thoroughly enjoyable.

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Raven   

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^ But, playing Devil's Advocate, you haven't actually read it, have you? You've listened to it.

 

You may end up knowing (and enjoying) the story, but the processes (and I would argue, the results) are different. 

 

People don't say they've "read the news" when listening to it on the radio, why would fiction be different?

Edited by Raven

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Michelle   

Actually... I am a little offended.. personally, I don't actually see the difference between reading with my eyes, and listening with my ears - it all goes into my brain for it to process! I love my audiobooks, and I will very happily count them as books read. 

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Actually... I am a little offended.. personally, I don't actually see the difference between reading with my eyes, and listening with my ears - it all goes into my brain for it to process! I love my audiobooks, and I will very happily count them as books read. 

 

Very true.  We do have to process the language, probably on the same side of the brain (don't remember from college, but I assume so).

 

Like I said at the beginning, I would never try to intentionally offend you or anyone else on here.  My question is to find out if readers count them as reading or not, not whether one is better than the other. I like audiobooks, and listen to them often. I just answered my question with my own personal opinion, which is what I want to hear from everyone else.  Whether I agree or not doesn't matter to me. I simply find it an interesting topic for discussion is all, and am curious to see how the majority of people respond. 

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I really like audiobooks in some situations - for example aeroplanes, I simply cannot read for any length of time on a plane, but I have spent many a 10 hour or so flight listening to a book for 9 hours of it. However, around the house or in bed, I find I cannot concentrate if listening to an audiobook and my mind wanders very quickly.

 

I would count the books I have listened to as 'read' - some of them were epic (being listened to over several flights) and thoroughly enjoyable.

That is why I like them when I do work around the house, like painting or landscaping, etc. It makes the task seem less tedious.

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Michelle   

 However, around the house or in bed, I find I cannot concentrate if listening to an audiobook and my mind wanders very quickly.

 

Now I'm the opposite.. I started listening to audiobooks at night when I went to bed, as I found concentrating on the story helped me to not lie there worrying about other things. 

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Michelle   

 

Like I said at the beginning, I would never try to intentionally offend you or anyone else on here.  My question is to find out if readers count them as reading or not, not whether one is better than the other. I like audiobooks, and listen to them often. I just answered my question with my own personal opinion, which is what I want to hear from everyone else.  Whether I agree or not doesn't matter to me. I simply find it an interesting topic for discussion is all, and am curious to see how the majority of people respond. 

Yea, I know. I was just a little put out by the responses saying they shouldn't count as reading.

 

Again, I seem to be the opposite of Raven.. I sometimes find myself skimming parts of some books, but when listening I can't do that. I think it's made me appreciate certain books a bit more by listening to them.

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Perhaps it's the difference in one's learning modality. I'm kinesthetic w/a healthy dose of visual, so I'm a read all the way girl. I've never been able to learn anything except rhythms by listening. Audio books put me to sleep and I can't follow the story.

 

Michelle, do you lean toward being an auditory learner?

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Virginia   

I do both and I count my audio as "reading" because I get totally enthralled in them as if I were laying my eyes on the words. I don't miss a word. If a blind person listens to audios, do they not count? They are taking in the same words and experiences, just in a different format. It all counts in my opinion.

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Raven   

Actually... I am a little offended.. personally, I don't actually see the difference between reading with my eyes, and listening with my ears - it all goes into my brain for it to process! I love my audiobooks, and I will very happily count them as books read.

 

There is no need to be offended, this is just a personal view!

 

If I read a book, as in my eyes passing across printed text, I process the information in a different way to what I do when I listen to someone reading me a story.

 

When reading a book I have time to digest the information being presented. I can stop and ponder what I have read and I can more easily go back and re-read the last paragraph or page.

 

With audio I get someone else's take on the story; I hear their inflections, they give weight [or not] to text I may not have done and no matter how much I enjoy it I am hearing someone else's version of the story.

 

When I listen to an audio book I am not reading a book, I am listening to a story.

 

I don't miss a word.

 

I'm not saying you are, but that doesn't mean you are processing the story in the same way as you would if you read the actual text.

 

If a blind person listens to audios, do they not count? They are taking in the same words and experiences, just in a different format. It all counts in my opinion.

 

No.  Again, with someone else's spin on the story.  It may not be an option for all blind people, but I would say reading a braille book would be reading where listening to an audio would be being read to.

 

There is a difference.

 

If you have had a story read to you  - no matter how competent or good the source - you have not read the story yourself, you've heard someone else's version of it.

 

In my opinion, audio books are not reading, they are listening to a text that someone else is reading to you.

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Virginia   

As I've stated... I don't miss a word and come away with what I'm meant to come away with. I've read and listened to the same books and they impart the same thing to me whether I read it or listen to it.

Edited by Virginia

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I used to be really weird about audiobooks. I would only use them as a way to experience a book I already read and loved for a second time. Then I started listening to short-story podcasts while taking a shower, or doing the dishes. Recently I said to heck with it and started listening to free audiobooks on youtube of classics in the public domain that I've been interested in but haven't gotten around to yet, and I started a free trial of audible just to get the three free audiobooks and I'm currently going through A Darker Shade of Magic, which is fantastic. 

 

Honestly, there's basically no difference between reading and listening unless you're an extreme auditory learner or an extreme read/write learner. I do fine with all four methods of learning and always have. Like literally we had a test in high school to figure out which learning method suited us and I barely had any kind of preference. And there are many scientists out there that will now argue that the four learning methods are bunk anyway. Anybody who says they don't count as reading (not how you personally feel, but in an objective sense) doesn't know what they're talking about and is basically arguing semantics ("it's not technically reading"). Writing is modeled after spoken language. The first stories were recited orally. If anything, the written word loses something by not being spoken aloud, namely prosody. What research there is agrees with me, as will the vast majority of professional authors that will tell you to read your prose aloud and see how it sounds. 

 

I still prefer reading by a landslide, and I certainly wouldn't listen to an audiobook of something difficult enough that I'd expect to have to stop and re-read often (Gravity's Rainbow comes to mind), but for most fiction I never re-read passages anyway (this is a harmful habit most people could do with breaking, imo), so it basically doesn't matter, and I absolutely count them as books I've read. I still had to pay attention to the story, and audiobooks take almost twice as long to get through and I can't speed through uninteresting sections, so they're hardly "cheating." It's just nice to be able to "read" while doing chores, taking a shower, or when my eyes are too fatigued to keep reading print. Otherwise I'd have to resign myself to not reading during those times and I love books and want to consume as many as possible.

Edited by davidh219

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Michelle   

Perhaps it's the difference in one's learning modality. I'm kinesthetic w/a healthy dose of visual, so I'm a read all the way girl. I've never been able to learn anything except rhythms by listening. Audio books put me to sleep and I can't follow the story.

 

Michelle, do you lean toward being an auditory learner?

I really don't know, to be honest. My kids have spent time at school trying to work out their 'style' but it wasn't something we ever looked at. My personal preference is to write everything down when trying to learn something.. but I do know that if I'm reading something non fiction, I can often drift away from the text, or skim. As I said before, listening makes me slow down and take it in... hmm.. maybe I am an auditory learner! :)

 

 

There is no need to be offended, this is just a personal view!

 

If I read a book, as in my eyes passing across printed text, I process the information in a different way to what I do when I listen to someone reading me a story.

 

In my opinion, audio books are not reading, they are listening to a text that someone else is reading to you.

What you are describing is that *you* experience them in different ways, but to say that that's true for all really is playing devil's advocate (I wonder if there really is a game called that out there?). What you have to be careful of is telling people that an audio book doesn't count as reading.. to me that's very similar to telling someone that their chick-lit, Dan Brown or childrens' book doesn't really count as reading. 

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I do know that if I'm reading something non fiction, I can often drift away from the text, or skim. As I said before, listening makes me slow down and take it in... hmm.. maybe I am an auditory learner! :)

:she: Exactly what you said, but opposite! This describes me to a T when I'm listening someone give a speech, read a story, or offer or an extended explanation. I kind of drift and only get part of what they're saying, despite my best efforts. :shrug:

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Angury   

This is an interesting thread - I enjoyed reading through the responses.

 

I decided to give Audiobooks a go a few months back when I heard Stephen Fry mention them - he used to listen to them when he went for a walk and managed to lose a significant amount of weight as a result. I tried to do something similar but found that I just couldn't multitask in that way. If I was listening to an audiobook I had to stay focused on what the narrator was saying - I wasn't able to go for a nice walk or do some housework while listening at the same time. I found that my brain had to really concentrate to take in every word, weigh it, understand it, retain it and then join it up with every other word in the sentence to create an image.

 

I think this is a very personal thing - I have many friends who love listening to Audiobooks, far more than reading, and use them to relax after a long day. I however find I have to work much harder to draw a mental image of the characters and their settings when someone else is speaking the words into my ear. When reading a book I feel I have much more freedom to expand upon each sentence and weigh it carefully with the rest of the story. I am able to step inside a story with more ease when I I read the words on a page.

 

Also, I'm a pretty slow reader so it takes me a lot longer to finish a book myself (running my finger along the bottom of each word, sounding them out ;) )

Recently I have found myself having to use my finger to follow the sentences as I read a book - I feel like I am regressing into a child. :P

 

I really like audiobooks in some situations - for example aeroplanes, I simply cannot read for any length of time on a plane, but I have spent many a 10 hour or so flight listening to a book for 9 hours of it.

This is a very interesting idea - I might give this a go. I also find it difficult to read on a plane - even on a short one-hour flight. Audiobooks may be my saviour in this case.

 

 

but for most fiction I never re-read passages anyway (this is a harmful habit most people could do with breaking, imo)

What makes you say this?

Edited by Angury

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I think this is a very personal thing - I have many friends who love listening to Audiobooks, far more than reading, and use them to relax after a long day.

 

 

Very good point.  It all boils down to an individual's perception of what reading is. 

 

I enjoy audiobooks, books, movies, podcasts, etc, but I enjoy and consider them as separate medias.  I really try my very best to not compare one to the other (very hard, especially when a movie just botched a favorite book).  I guess that's why I feel that reading is reading, listening is listening, watching is watching.  As much as I love to read books I hate that I can't read while doing dishes, gardening, etc.  I like audiobooks, but I can't see how characters names are spelled or see the format, and sometimes don't like the narrator.  They present opposite problems and opposite solutions from one another, so that's why I can personally keep them separate in my mind.

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What makes you say this?

 

Just articles about reading speed and my own experience and talking with people I know. Most people re-read unnecessarily. I had a problem with this maybe five years ago or so. Every sentence is surrounded by context, you can power on without going back and it will be perfectly fine 99% of the time, and you'll retrain your brain to absorb it better the first time by doing it. And If it's the meaning behind the words that matter, stopping to re-read a sentence you understood the meaning of but didn't process fully (I.E. exact sentence structure and word choice), doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but that's why most people stop and re-read most of the time. That was certainly the case with me, anyway. 

 

Anybody looking to read faster should first see if they are either re-reading sentences a lot or sub-vocalizing.

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Angury   

Just articles about reading speed and my own experience and talking with people I know. Most people re-read unnecessarily. I had a problem with this maybe five years ago or so. Every sentence is surrounded by context, you can power on without going back and it will be perfectly fine 99% of the time, and you'll retrain your brain to absorb it better the first time by doing it. And If it's the meaning behind the words that matter, stopping to re-read a sentence you understood the meaning of but didn't process fully (I.E. exact sentence structure and word choice), doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but that's why most people stop and re-read most of the time. That was certainly the case with me, anyway. 

 

Anybody looking to read faster should first see if they are either re-reading sentences a lot or sub-vocalizing.

Interesting.

 

I used to be the type of reader who read very very quickly, to the point that I would skim passages just to get to the action (I used to read a lot of Fantasy).

However since I started reading genres outside of Fantasy I found myself going back to passages that I felt had been particularly well written. I find it interesting to see how the author has constructed a sentence so beautifully that it has stuck in my mind.

As I've recently become interested in writing myself I find it helpful to look at the different words, rhythms and metaphors that are used as inspiration, and often also as admiration of an authors talent.

 

Anyway, going slightly off topic - sorry.

Edited by Angury

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Interesting.

 

I used to be the type of reader who read very very quickly, to the point that I would skim passages just to get to the action (I used to read a lot of Fantasy).

However since I started reading genres outside of Fantasy I found myself going back to passages that I felt have been particularly well written. I find it interesting to see how the author has constructed a sentence so beautifully that it sticks in your mind. Particularly as I've started to become interested in writing as well, I find it quite helpful to look at the different words, rhythms and metaphors that are used as a way to inspire myself really.

 

Anyway, going slightly off topic - sorry.

 

Sure, if you're really studying the language that makes sense. I take my time with authors that have truly incredible prose, but those are few and far between and mostly I'm reading for the story behind the words so I don't sweat it when the exact sentence structure didn't sink in. 

 

It's funny you should mention fantasy. I'm kind of the opposite, I skim action in fantasy. Well, I wouldn't call it full on skimming (most of the time), but the thing I'm most excited about in fantasy typically isn't the action. 

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Sakura   
I have listened to some entertaining books on audio in the past, but have only ever completed three of them.  I never added them as "read" anywhere. I personally feel like I'm cheating myself to count them toward the amount I've read, especially if I have a goal set.

 

When you say you never add them anywhere, I assume you mean like reading-related social media? Most of them allow you to add the audio book instead of the actual book, and I would totally mark that as 'read', because that's simply the default phrase.

 

Of course I don't read audio books, but I do consume them. I feel the distinction to me is mood. If I ask someone if they read a book I don't actually care if they read it, or listen to it, I'm asking if they know it.

 

I guess not everyone retains the same information if they read a book vs listening to a book, but people already read very different in the first place, and don't notice the same stuff, so that it  seems pointless to me, to make any distinction in that matter.

 

But if someone wants to come up with a phrase that shortens "Did you read it, or listen to it." I'd be willing to use that, to be more inclusive of audio book listener.

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I have to admit, I never used to include my audiobooks in my "read" list of books, as I often used them just as background noise and would only listen to books I'd read before (let's face it, I used to listen to the Harry Potter books and that was about my limit!).

 

However, over the last couple of years, I've started listening to more audiobooks, and I feel that how I listen to them has changed dramatically, and I often listen to books I haven't physically read.  The audiobooks bring a different dimension to the experience of the story, but what I find increasingly helpful is audiobooks where there is dialect written in the text.  I find it so off-putting to read written dialect as it takes me out of the story as I try to decipher the accent.  An audio book with a good narrator will definitely overcome that (Carole Boyd reading South Riding was particularly brilliant at this), and I've found that now I've got into the habit of listening to books, I've learned a different skill in how to take them all in.  I find the key is to listen to the opening chapter(s) with no distractions and really concentrate of the reading, and then once I've got all the characters and the story in my head, I can listen while doing other things and still take it all in.  I also agree it gives me more "reading" time as I can now read while I'm in the car, out walking, or doing some sewing.

 

So, for the last couple of years, I have now started included audio books in my list of books read and will continue to do so.

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When you say you never add them anywhere, I assume you mean like reading-related social media? Most of them allow you to add the audio book instead of the actual book, and I would totally mark that as 'read', because that's simply the default phrase.

Yes, I'm referring to places like Goodreads.  I suppose I could add a shelf named audiobooks.  But I haven't added them on my reading log on this site either.  I usually end up not finishing most of them before my library loan ends anyways, and I don't add unfinished books anymore. 

 

 

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