Does it count as reading if you’re listening?
I started listening to audiobooks two years ago when I got an ipod for Christmas. I love the fact that I can listen to it while doing my chores around the house. The spoken word doesn’t block out sounds like music does, and so I can still hear the phone ring or a child whine.
But I’ve enjoyed audiobooks in so many other ways as well:
- in the car as a family on roadtrips
- as motivation for my daughter to clean her room (she’s as chore-challenged as I am)
- as a way for my four-year-old son to enjoy books that might otherwise be a bit above his level
- and for that matter for my daughter to enjoy books that might be a bit below her own preferred reading level
- as an alternative to TV as I’m winding down before going to sleep at night
- as gifts for people who might not consider books a fun gift
At first, audiobooks were a way that I found to “read” an extra book each month in little bits and chunks and enjoy a book at a time when I couldn’t read (although when I was a dumb teenager enthralled in my latest Stephen King or Dean Koontz book, I DID sometimes read and drive!).
But now I’ve found that I appreciate the audiobook experience in itself. Unlike watching Books on Screen, which can enhance or detract from the author’s story, an audiobook IS the novel. Added to the joy of experiencing the story, I’ve discovered the delicious thrill that my children know — that of being read to.
Occasionally a boring or nondescript narrator might make a book hard to listen to, but I haven’t run into that (however, I do listen to a clip before purchasing, and often decide not to buy if the recording doesn’t grab me). If the story holds up, a boring narrator doesn’t add to the telling of the story, but doesn’t really detract either. There have been some books that I enjoyed as audiobooks even more than if I had read them. Some of the productions have gotten good. I’ve added an “audiobooks” category, and if I “read” the book as an audiobook, in addition to reviewing the story, I will review the audiobook production s well.
Audiobooks are readily available. Our library stocks a large selection (and this is our source for most of the children’s books we listen to). A new feature for adults at my library (and available for purchase) is the “playaway.” It’s an MP3 device loaded up with a single title. This is an awesome way for people without ipods or other players to try this new genre, but if you’re like me, you might become a convert and want an ipod solely for that purpose (90% of what I listen to on my ipod is audiobooks and podcasts).
Another of my favorite sources is audible.com. When I got my ipod I signed up for one of their reduced-fee plans for a year. It was an awesome way to build my audio library. You can listen to those books straight from your computer, or upload them to your ipod or MP3 player, or burn CDs to listen to as you commute. If you join as a member, you get discounts. I no longer have a monthly plan, but have kept my membership to be able to take advantage in great sales, so now I just stock up a few times a year.
Do you enjoy listening to audiobooks for yourself or as a family? Like me, have you come to appreciate them as a separate genre to the printed book? When and how do you listen to them?
Managing Editor Jennifer Donovan also blogs at Snapshot about life with her tween daughter and preschool son.