Every few months, a debate pops up on book twitter about audiobooks and whether they should actually be considered reading. Now, I fully understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I wanted to use this post to share my own thoughts on this topic.
In no uncertain terms, my opinion is that AUDIOBOOKS ARE READING. The words are the same — we are just taking them in differently. There’s no difference between the two other than how we’re processing them. I don’t understand the need to gatekeep how people take in a story, but there’s a bunch of reasons why people might choose an audiobook instead of a hard copy or e-book. Here’s a few I could think of. If I left any out, please don’t hesitate to share in the comments:
- Disabilities. There are a number of disabilities that can make visually reading a book difficult or impossible. Off the top of my head, visual impairments, dyslexia, muscular weakness, and arthritis can all make reading written words or holding books an issue. Listening to audiobooks makes books much more accessible. Why wouldn’t audiobooks be considered a viable option for reading? To suggest otherwise is ableism.
- Time constraints. If you spend a significant portion of your time driving, listening to an audiobook is a great way to get some reading done while still being able to focus on the road.
- Multitasking. If I’m listening to an audiobook, I can still work on chores that I despise, making them go by faster. (Ahem, laundry, I’m looking at you 👀). If I’m reading a book, it’s basically all I can do. If I need to do something else, I have to stop reading. Cooking, cleaning, exercise, and dishes are all things that can be done while listening to an audiobook.
- Focus. A lot of times, when I’m reading a printed or e-book, I have to devote all my attention to it to be able to take in what I’m reading. But when I’m listening to an audiobook, for some reason, I don’t have to focus as hard to take in what I’m reading. I’m not sure if this is a “me” thing or if this happens to everyone, but I figured I’d add it in.
- Pronunciation. I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve read a word and pronounced it wrong in my head. Listening to an audiobook has given me the proper way to pronounce words that I might not know.
- Accessibility. I can get a wide range of audiobooks from my local library (including recent releases) at no cost, without having to leave my home. This is a great perk, especially if you are disabled and low-income. If you have access to a library, even online, it makes reading more accessible at no cost. (I understand that this isn’t necessarily a benefit if you don’t have access to internet and/or a library). I personally use an app called Libby, and my library has recently expanded to also use Hoopla.
- Portability. Carrying a book around is HEAVY, especially if you like big books (which I do). It also requires having light to read by. But all I really need to listen to an audiobook is my phone, which is basically glued to my hand, and a tiny set of earbuds. When I’m at home, I generally don’t bother with the earbuds unless I’m listening to something steamy and someone is around.
- Nostalgia. My very first experience with reading was as a young child, when my mother would read books to me. There’s something cool about having someone read to me, especially since the narrator changes their inflection, tone, and even their entire tone to mimic the voices of different characters.
- Improved sleep. I’ve struggled with insomnia for years, and have only recently started listening to audiobooks. Lately, I noticed that when I listen to them while laying down, I tend to actually get sleepy! Unless, of course, I’m listening to something very tense and full of action.
- Distraction. Turning on a good audiobook is a great way of turning off my brain. I have a tendency to get racing thoughts, and listening to an audiobook has been highly effective at slowing that down. Although each person copes differently, this may be a good way of managing anxiety if that is something you struggle with.
What do you think? Did I miss any?
Categories: Bookish Posts