This weekend I drove a lot to see AMom and her sister, Auntie, for Mother’s Day and (94th) Birthday respectively. I decided to take out an audio book from the library for the trip. Wow, did that make the boring old drive down the flat highway fly by. I think I’ll do that again. Problem is, 8 hours of driving is not enough to finish the audio book. Now I have to make time to listen to the other 5/9 of the book. Then there’s the question after I finish listening: Did I actually “read” that book or not? Do I list it in the books read file?
Last year I listened to some Story Circles (audio books on cd are story circles — didn’t you know?) and I counted one as a book read and listed it in “books read.” The others I didn’t count — mainly because they were radio theatre adaptations of books, not books that were read aloud. I did hesitate before counting the spy novel I listened to on a road trip. Why? you might ask. Because listening to an audio book is a different experience than reading a book.
Yes, listening to an audio book is a different experience than reading a book. How? you might ask. I’ll tell you.
1. Listening to an audio book is an auditory experience requiring only one sense. Reading a book takes at least two senses, sight and touch.
2. Listening to an audio book leaves you free to do other things — like drive a car or knit a sweater. Don’t try to drive while reading a book. I think reading makes knitting a little more difficult as well. Reading a book involves all of ones attention.
3. Listening to an audio book is an experience in time – you hear the story at the pace another person reads it to you. Reading a book is a more timeless experience. You probably read silently more quickly than anyone can read aloud. You can read more quickly in some places, and more slowly in others.
4. Listening to an audio book is a sequentially ordered experience. You don’t have to read a book in order. You can read and re-read a paragraph. You can pause after a poignant scene and possibly go back to pick up a few lines again. You can skip ahead in a tedious bit. You can read the end, then go back to the middle.
I like reading a lot, and the experience of reading is, to me, more satisfying than the experience of listening to story circles. Story circles do make a long road trip fly by, though, and I think that I will certainly listen again while driving. What about you? Do you listen to audio books? Under what circumstances?