Is listening to an audiobook really reading? (NYtimes)

I take this critique very personally, as about 2/3 of the books I consume are via listening. How about you?


Readers: where do you fall on the reading-with-eyes vs listening-to-audiobooks spectrum? I’m not even going to tackle the eReader vs paper book divide.

Can’t book readers just get along?

TL;DR? Do what you like; reading a book can be about enjoyment, or learning something, or developing empathy. If it meets your goals, do it!

Author: CT Lin

CMIO, UCHealth (Colorado); Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

2 thoughts on “Is listening to an audiobook really reading? (NYtimes)”

  1. Yes, in the sense of absorbing information and new ways of thinking, without having to stop everything else and carve out hours to just sit. Mind you, I’m currently trying to do just that – carve out hours to sit and absorb.

    But I’m getting concerned about our seemingly accelerating loss of punctuation and spelling, which I suspect is because so much is absorbed now via videos and sound clips; people don’t have a *clue* how something would be spelled because they’ve basically never read it. And that in turn leads to a loss of fine distinction, it seems to me, and with it a loss of analytical skills.

    I will say that audiobooks have a unique hazard: bad readers. I’m about to reject my Audible of Mukherjee’s “The Song of the Cell,” and get the Kindle instead. Mukherjee’s “Emperor of All Maladies” literally changed my life in 2012 (in addition to its Pulitzer), but Cell kept leaving me puzzled … until I realized the reader is a buffoon who can ready any sentence but with no comprehension of what he’s saying. **And the director didn’t make him do it over.**

    He speaks every sentence with a tone of “OMG!” or “Imagine that!”, which is not all how the actual words read. Worse, in numerous places he emphasizes the wrong word (just like Siri on a bad day) and mispronounces some scientific words. My experience of the book improved greatly when I imagined the voice as being Slacker Siri and added a filter to imagine the words on the page.

    So screw that 🙂 … I’m switching TO the actual written words.

  2. p.s. Can the Wired essay be applied equally to reading vs hearing a text? I’m thinking of podcast vs its transcript, or text-to-speech for WaPo or NYTimes.

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