Audiobooks – testing, testing

13 Jan

The idea of listening to a book has never appealed to me even when a few friends suggested audiobooks as an alternative way of consuming books.

I’ve always wondered whether the people who listen to audiobooks are people who used to read books and then switched (fully or partially) or whether these are people who previously did most of their reading through audiobooks or even did not read at all before audiobooks.

Personally, the act of reading is something i treasure. I love its simplicity and its demand for concentration. It requires the attention of your eyes and hands and it’s a completely personal experience whether you are sitting at a coffeeshop, lying on a public beach or your living room couch.

But is it inefficient?

Audiobooks have some obivious advantages, the first of which is the time investment required to do it. The second (and related to the first one) is that it allows one to multitask such as exercise, drive, do some gardening or even cook while listening to the audiobook. As long as the other task is repetitive enough and requires limited thinking, concentration on the audiobook is possibly not a problem. I know that from listening to podcasts and i imagine it’s similar with audiobooks.

Frankly, in spite of these advantages, i can’t see myself reading books in this way. Even if it means reading twice or three times as many books within the same time period.

A significant part of the pleasure comes along with the inefficiencies of reading. It’s a package.

However i will give audiobooks a chance, for a specific purpose.

Re-reading books.

There are always lots of books i want to re-read but rarely manage to do so. I’ve chosen a non-fiction book for this test because i can’t see myself being immersed in a fictional world and story while listening to someone narrating other than my own inner voice. Especially a world i have already imagined and fantasized about.

Let’s see how this goes.

The audiobook is How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer which i first read a couple of years ago.


Posted by on January 13, 2012 in Books


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6 responses to “Audiobooks – testing, testing

  1. jameswharris

    January 19, 2012 at 14:40

    When I started listening to audio books I made a major discover – I was a terrible reader. A good professional narrator will present a book at its best – or conversely, if it’s a bad book, magnify its badness. Charles Dickens used to act out his books as he wrote them, and I think all great books should be dramatic. As a reader I wasn’t picking up the dramatic qualities of fiction – I was just speed reading through them to find out information, mainly, what happens.

    Now, if you’re already a good reader this won’t matter. But I wasn’t. I was a voracious bookworm, but not a good reader. Listening to books was like that scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy goes from a black and white world to Technicolor.

    • costastaliadoros

      January 19, 2012 at 16:14

      Hehehe, here we are again in the same boat. I read a lot (books, mags and articles) but i’m also a terrible reader. To be honest i’m making efforts to change this but so far there has not been much improvement. I hope the Audiobooks experiment proves as enlightening to me as it was to you.

  2. jameswharris

    January 19, 2012 at 16:42

    I also did what you are planning – by listening to books I’ve already read. It’s amazing to discover how much I missed in books I’ve read a number of times.

  3. costastaliadoros

    January 19, 2012 at 17:10

    I am about halfway through the audiobook and i am still undecided on how i feel about this. I only listen to it when i do my walks.

    I do enjoy the experience so far but there are times i find myself getting distracted for a few seconds but i rarely go back to listen to what i missed. I also don’t do it when there’s something i didn’t understand whereas i would do so if i was actually reading.

    • jameswharris

      January 19, 2012 at 17:13

      Being able to listen to a book takes learning just like being able to read. It takes practice. Don’t give up too soon.

      • costastaliadoros

        January 19, 2012 at 18:46

        Yeah you are right, it looks like it takes some getting used to listening to a book so I will give it a fair chance before i decide.


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