Open Book Blog Hop – Are audiobooks considered reading?

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Welcome to the weekly blog hop.  Today’s topic is:

‘Are audiobooks considered reading?’

Of course audiobooks are considered to be reading.

What is the purpose of reading? To learn new ideas and expand your horizons; experience different cultures, religions and beliefs; improve your vocabulary and enjoy a good story.

Which of these can’t you do through listening to the story rather than reading it yourself? There are two benefits to reading you don’t get through audio books and those are improved spelling and improved silent reading speed, but there are benefits to audio books that you don’t get from silent reading such as developing good listening skills, not skipping over pieces of the story and, for me, a slower speed which means more time to appreciate the language and the message in the story.

I listen to two to three audio books a month, depending on their length, and I tend to chose books that I find more complicated to read myself like classics, poetry and intricate tales of espionage with lots of characters. So far this year I have listed to The Thorn Birds, The Red Badge of Courage, Anthem by Ayn Rand, The Great Gatsby, The Screwtape Letters, Evil under the sun and Letting go into perfect love, all of which are great books. I am currently half way through What Happened in Vienna, Jack? by Danny Kemp and have Haunted House Ghost and Poggibonsi: An Italian Misadventure lined up for March and April.

I also have Far from the Madding Crowd and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, both classics, on my list for the first half of this year.

I promote audiobooks for children, especially children who have a learning barrier and struggle to read quickly and fluently on their own. My son, Michael, has an excellent vocabulary despite his learning barrier and this is due to the numerous audio books he listened to as a young lad. We used to listen to children’s classics together such as The Coral Island and Treasure Island. It was a wonderful bonding experience.

I listened to The Great Gatsby as it was one of my older son, Gregory’s, set work books for this year and we did it as a buddy read and discussed it afterwards.

I listen to audio books when I do boring or monotonous tasks like cleaning or driving and when I am doing mechanical tasks like fondant art or baking. They are a great way of livening up an otherwise dull task and making the best use of your time.

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41 thoughts on “Open Book Blog Hop – Are audiobooks considered reading?

  1. Terrific post and great question! Your answer made me think about this question differently…I don’t listen to audio books, preferring to read – BUT I listen to podcasts, and in both cases, it’s a way to tell a story – and that’s always a good thing!

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    1. I also love to read a book, John, although I am now reading more on my kindle which I never thought I would do. It just costs so much to courier books to SA now that we can’t use the postal service for this. I enjoy audio books for more complex reads, as I said. The narrators reads slower than I read to myself and I appreciate the beauty of classic books more in this forum.

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  2. I agree, whether you look at the words or hear them, you are still experiencing the story. It is how children first learn new words, by being read too. When I had a job that involved long distant travel by car, I listened to audiobooks. Like you, I listened to classics and long books I would not have had time to read. When my dad’s vision was failing him, we bought him audiobooks. Audiobooks belong up there with e-books, paperbacks and hardback books.

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    1. Most people prefer a single narrator. I have sometimes enjoyed old radio shows, but that isn’t the same format. The most I’ve really enjoyed were two-person narration, usually a man and a woman. Otherwise, a lot of narrators, music, sound effects — they all distract me from the story.

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  3. I think that any way of experiencing a piece of literature is valid, whether you read it on a printed page, on a screen or listen to it. Each method has its place in our lives, a lot of people I know use all these ways of getting joy from the written word.

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    1. The down side for me, Patricia, is I now write much less poetry. The ideas for my poems often came to me in the car when I witnessed the poverty on the streets. My mind is now occupied elsewhere so my poetry writing has reduced significantly.

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    1. I started listening to audio books with my son, Michael, Mae. It was a most useful process for him and me and now we listen to different books on a continuous basis. He is currently listening to the Beasts of Clawstone Castle by Eva Ibbotson.

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  4. I ‘discovered’ audio books many decades ago working for the blind … like you I listened to them driving. I definitely consider them ‘reading’ but haven’t listened to one in ages 🙂

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  5. Not Letting “Red Badge of Courage” and “Gatsby” linger before your eyes is like a postcard of a Monet. For me, when I see a writer’s work, the words, the formatting, how scenes are handled, how the story is assembled I get so much more out of it. But I am not the audiobook audience. We all absorb in different ways. And that bit about skipping parts happens when writers get writerly, and I’m not sure I’d want to hear it any more than read it. “I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.” – Elmore Leonard
    Strange, though, I’d rather hear Shakespeare by those that know, but don’t want anyone reading me classic poetry. Thanks for the post!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Phil. The sorts of bits I tend to skip over are the prologues and lists of characters or stage directions – that sort of thing that is actually quite important but does seem important when I am reading it.

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  6. I’ve only listened to a couple of books on audio. I just don’t enjoy it nearly as much as reading a book. Plus, it seems like sometimes I zone out and miss part of the story.

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  7. Isn’t it funny how everything comes round again? We started out with “literature” as stories told by the bard. And here we are again. I do love the pacing of audiobooks. And there are some narrators so good – Jim Dale who read all the Harry Potter books – springs to mind. Along with Rob Inglis (who is probably no longer working) who read “Lord of the Ring.” Will Patton, Titus Welliver (Michael Connelly’s books — and he plays the same role as the narrator in the books that he plays on the Prime TV show which makes it perfect for those who watch the show AND read the books. Tom Hanks is a great reader (of his own short stories) as is Michael York. Many actors make good readers, but some great actors and actresses are surprisingly bad. They overact the text … and in books, less is generally more.

    Stephen King reads a lot of his own books, but you have to accept his hard Maine twang. Once you realize he sounds like the characters he writes about, it gets easier. When an author reads well, an author-read book is fantastic. Especially autobiographies. That’s when the story becomes a movie in your own mind. It also makes it hard for you to watch the movies because you form very sharp images of what everyone looks and sounds like — and this can be difficult for the producers and directors to match.

    Everyone has preferences in readers. I like readers who become part of the story, whose voices blend with the tale so that after a while, you can’t imagine anyone else telling that story. Jim Butcher had that problem with his narrator. James Marsters was his narrator except for one book and the angry response from readers forced them to go back and re-record the book. It wasn’t that the new narrator was bad. He was fine. He just was not James Marsters.

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    1. I can understand that people get attached to a particular reader especially when they read most of a specific author’s books. Most of the narrators for classic books are very good although some of the Indie book readers can be a bit irritating. Most of the books I have listened to have been very enjoyable.

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  8. I have been diagnosed with cataracts and even though it is not serious, I have been advised to take it easy and not strain my eyes while I wait for my surgery. I have come to depend on audiobooks and love them.

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