Sunday, September 29, 2013

Booker View – Audiobooking – Is Listening Cheating?


I can’t count the times someone has looked at me askance when I’ve told them I prefer to listen to eyerollaudiobooks (yes, askance. It’s a look. A snotty one. Kind of like this  ------->

It’s like people really do believe that listening to books is somehow cheating. I’ve even heard it said by some that reading a print book is the only “authentic” way to read. I say that’s hogwash and codswallop. (Yes those are real words meaning ridiculous nonsense, stop looking at me askance!)

In my opinion, listening to an audio is an entirely different way of experiencing a book. When the right book has the right narrator, it is a special kind of magic that is beyond simply reading a book. It’s almost like watching the movie if that movie stayed absolutely completely true to every aspect of the book. The right narrator can add life, atmosphere, and intensity to the story that makes it almost seem as if you’re watching it unfold. On the other hand, an inferior narrator can cause an otherwise incredible story to come across as simply meh.

There are certain situations when I always recommend picking up an audiobook  -

  • When in a reading slump – switching up reading formats can quickly pull you out of a slump and get you engaged and reading again!
  • When rereading a favorite book – You know how we always wish we could experience our favorite book again for the first time? Well, listening to the audio is a whole new way to experience the story!
  • When a book has an awkward writing style – I somehow have a difficult time reading books by authors like Tahereh Mafi, Ellen Hopkins, or Moira Young because of their writing style but I’ve had no problem connecting to the audio!
  • When a book has difficult language – The books that come to mind is Stacia Kane’s Downside series with her incredible original “Downspeak” slang that I would have butchered if I would have tried to sound it out while reading the books. But Bahni Turpin does such a phenomenal job narrating these stories on the audio books that instead of being difficult, I thought the Downspeak was BRILLIANT!
  • When you’re having a hard time connecting with a character – One of the things that a great narrator can do is bring to life a difficult character, giving depth to their personality simply by the way they use the dialog.

Those are just a few of the ways that audiobooks can enhance a story. But the question I pose in the title of my post was “Is listening cheating?” and I would answer a heartfelt NO! Just like reading is a very personal thing and there are no right or wrongs when it comes to genre or topics, I don’t think there are right or wrongs in what format you prefer.

While reading print or eBooks can certainly enhance reading comprehension, spelling, and grammar, listening to audio has it’s own benefits. For example, there have been several times that I’ve been able to pronounce some obscure word that my friend has found in a book and while she is looking at me like “when did you EVER use the word ‘peregrinations’ to know how to pronounce it?” I can tell her that it comes from listening to audiobooks. I know how to pronounce all of those crazy names and places in those high fantasy and sci-fi books too because of audiobooks! That is definitely a plus!

What about you? What is your preferred reading format? Do you listen to audiobooks or do you think it’s cheating? Are there certain books that you prefer as audio? Do you have favorite narrators?


roro said...

I love Audio books although I have only listen to 3. I love how a narrator can bring a story to live

Wendy Darling said...

WHO looks at you askance? I don't see why audiobooks are any less legit than physical books. :/ While I don't go through nearly as many audiobooks as you do, I agree that sometimes a book that doesn't grab me in print sometimes grabs me as an audiobook, the Harry Potters being a prime example.

Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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