A lot of people hold the opinion that the experience of reading books is somehow superior to that of listening to audiobooks.
Personally, I read e-books when I travel, I listen to audiobooks while driving, cleaning, bathing, working out, or when I am sick, and I read books in my bedroom with a lamp and a cup of coffee when I am warm and comfortable.
Technology makes it possible for us to spend more time reading, so why not take thorough advantage of it? Sure, the medium matters; but the words matter more.
So, let me explain why I think the popular opinion on this matter might be unfounded.
Sometimes, audiobooks are more effective. Unless it’s a book that has a lot of detailing, listening to it being read out in varying tones and modulations can be a more effective way of retaining information. When you’re reading a dry book with more philosophy than detail – autobiographies are a good example – audiobooks can make the words come alive.
Listening to someone tell a captivating story is a morally uplifting experience, which is why children love to be told bedtime stories. It soothes your mind.
Audiobooks can help you save time by letting you multitask. Whenever you are doing something which requires either your sight, the use of your hands, or both, you are physically unable to read a book, but you can still catch up on the story if you have the audio version handy.
There are people who, due to physical or mental disabilities, might struggle to read or hold a physical book. But, everyone deserves to be able to delve into a story – and audiobooks open up the accessibility of published materials to a wider audience.
For people who are reluctant to read books, audiobooks might be just the thing that’ll get them hooked. They may not feel reading is worthwhile, but giving audiobooks – which are much more convenient – a shot might convince them otherwise.
Reading a new language can be tough. But, what with the added benefit of being able to hear what a language sounds like, audiobooks make it a lot easier to learn a new language.
Being good at listening to people – whether at work or in your private life – is a useful skill to have. And listening to audiobooks habituate you to focus when someone is talking to you.
A lot of people argue that listening to audiobooks is cheating – that those who listen to rather than read books are getting to the reward part without doing the hard work. I can see why it might feel that way, but psychologically, that is untrue.
The easiest way to understand the logic behind this is to understand that the difference between hearing and listening is almost the same as that between seeing and reading.
Whether you listen or read, your brain has to go through extra steps in order to process the language, whether it is phonetic or glyphic. For someone who is fluent in a language, decoding a string of written letters into something meaningful is no different than deciphering the meaning from a series of sounds.
Even if I haven’t managed to convince you, and you still think those who listen to audiobooks are “cheating”, I ask you this – why exactly does it bother you? As long as you are reading for recreational purposes, why does the apparent difficulty level of the task matter?
At the end of the day, you are both processing the same words. So, instead of wasting time arguing with people over which method is superior, I suggest you focus on what you read and argue about its interpretation instead.
That’s definitely more productive. Now, chop-chop!
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.