Do Audio Books Count?
It’s the age-old question: Do audio books count as reading?
Really, it’s probably more like “decade-old,” but I guess it’s still a heated discussion among literary nerds with nothing better to talk about.
Let me start by explaining my experience with audio books, using To Kill A Mockingbird as a case study. Here’s how it usually goes when I’ve listened to audio books while driving:
“Judge Taylor was saying something. His gavel was in his fist, but he wasn’t using it…”
There’s a cow. Steak for dinner?
“…Atticus pushing papers from the table into his briefcase. He snapped it shut, went to the court reporter…”
What time is it? Crap. Still 4 hours to dinner.
“… nodded to Mr. Gilmer, and then went to Tom Robinson and whispered something to him….”
Chicago has some awesome steakhouses. Need to go there soon.
“…off the back of his chair and pulled it over his shoulder. Then he left the courtroom, but not by his usual exit….”
Will the Cubs ever win a World Series? So sad.
“… wanted to go home the short way, because he walked quickly…”
Where’s my Ryne Sandberg rookie card? In the attic?
I simply can’t follow audio books.
I’ve tried to listen to an audio book three or four times in the last ten years, and I can never stay with it. I’m too easily distracted. My mind wanders. When I regain focus, I’m 10 miles down the road and the protagonist has managed to change his name, leave the country, and remarry a gypsy woman named Wanda.
But that’s just my experience.
I know many people who love audio books, who even, because of their busy schedules, would prefer to listen to audio books over reading a physical book or e-reader. That’s awesome. Sometimes, I wish I was wired that way.
But here’s my question: Is that reading?
Maybe it’s just a matter of semantics, but isn’t that just listening—not reading in the true sense of the word?
Doesn’t your mind engage a story or a text differently when you are actively reading words on a page, instead of listening while driving your car down the interstate or running on a treadmill?
My terrible book snobbery doesn’t extend to audio books, I promise. I’m not judging you audio bookophiles out there.
But in the technical sense of the word—isn’t listening to an audio book, well, listening…and not really reading?