Challenge: 50 Books discussion

Reading vs. Listening

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message 1: by Bishop (last edited Jul 21, 2008 12:56PM) (new)

Bishop (a_bishop) | 152 comments I have noticed that a lot of people on this site do their reading with their ears. I've only ever listened to one book on tape and I can't say that I was a huge fan of having to listen to someone else's take on inflection, voice, etc. However, the thought of getting through some of those tough "classics" (War and Peace, I'm looking at you) would be easier if I could just listen while I work in the yard, etc.

Less importantly, I feel like a "cheater" if I count these toward my total for the year. I guess it's my list and I can count what I want, but is there anyone who feels/has felt this way before switching to audio?

message 2: by Sue (new)

Sue (suefitz) | 5 comments I used to feel that way - but since I spend over an hour in the car each day commuting to work. I feel that it's still a book. I still unually read more also.

I don't think that for counting purposes using them is wrong, as long as I'm not listening to 50 books only.

message 3: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 738 comments I love to listen to books. It increases my ability to get through more books. I listen when I drive to work (over 1 hour each day), when I am waiting for an appt, etc. I download everything on to my IPOD, audio books have never been simpler.

message 4: by Beth (new)

Beth I tend to zone out and get distracted by the sights around me if I’m listening to an audiobook. I have several on my iPod, but they’re all old favorites that I’ve read numerous times so skipping around at different parts isn’t a problem.

One time I attempted to listen to an audiobook of something I’d never read but had wanted to read for some time. It was sometime last year and I don’t remember what it was or what it was about so I gave up on them.

I suspect that if I was driving it might be a different story because I can’t zone out and get distracted when I’m behind the wheel but I just don’t drive that much. I ride the bus to and from work every morning and if I am in the car for an extended period of time, I’m with my almost husband who prefers non-fiction to my fiction (so we usually compromise with conversation and music instead).

message 5: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) I can't believe how avid readers beat themselves up for any so-called "short cuts" they may take in consuming good literature!

I used to feel this way, but I'm getting over it! I'm doing it by simply facing the fact that "so many books, so little time" is a reality. If a good adaptation comes out in a pbs series and I watch it devotedly, I mark it off my list. I have done this with several of the 19th century "must reads" and feel no guilt at all and no need to pick them up and read them now. How many books by Dickens and Austin do you have to actually read to understand and appreciate their writing style and contribution to literature?

If a good book comes out on tape or CD (especially if it is read by the author), and I pay strict attention, I mark it off my list. I've gotten mostly light weight, but a few really good
nonfictions off my list that way.

I am presently listening to Obama's book, "The Audacity of Hope" on CD. When I finish (and I listen to most chapters twice, in case my mind wandered or I was distracted), I'll count that one as "read". But this is a good example of one I may buy in hard copy so I can refer to passages more easily. I do that often as well after I have used other media.

I think everyone must ask themselves "why do I read"? If enjoyment as well as learning is your answer,(and even if enjoyment isn't a motive, you will have to pick and choose among the many great books anyway), you will either skip more and/or enjoy less if you don't take advantage of other media to reach reading goals. Some books will never be understood and/or appreciated without the help of at least some commentary to fill in for the laymen's lack of background knowledge.

There, that's my soapbox speech for the day! I really am passionate about this subject while still considering myself a very serious reader and bibliophile!

message 6: by Melynna (new)

Melynna I hate listening to books. I'm a really fast reader, so waiting for the reader to get through the dialogue and narration in real time drives me crazy! I'm also the kind of person who sometimes skims paragraphs when I know what they're saying and just want to move on. Sometimes I get so into books that I start speed reading sections without even meaning to. I even skip forward a bit sometimes just to make sure someone lives. You can't do that when you're listening, so I just get really impatient and frustrated trying to listen.

Add on top of that what others have said about liking to interpret voice and inflection myself, and it adds up to me never listening to books on CD. Even on car trips I can't focus -- I end up taking some Dramamine and pulling out a book.

But I think it's a fine way to get your lit in if it works for you. I think listening definitely counts.

message 7: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie I can't get in to audiobooks. Even when I commuted for several hours a day I preferred music or NPR. When I'm reading I can go fast or slow, I can back up to reread something important or skim ahead. If I doze off I don't have to rewind later to figure out what I missed. And I just like the aesthetics of books.

Also, even though I'm counting my books this year, that's more because I'm curious, not because I have to read as many as possible. If I'm racing just to check off titles, I'm not enjoying my time. Since I'm not in school anymore, reading is relaxing time, not list-making or goal-setting time.

Audiobooks work for some people, and that's great for them. But they just don't work for me.

message 8: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 335 comments I love audiobooks. I too feel like they allow me to be "reading" two books at once which is helpful when I've signed up for 5 different book clubs! I agree that sometimes there is a need to flip back so sometimes I'll wind up getting the book out of the library too. It's also helpful when I'm really into a book and I don't want to wait until the next morning to find out what happened next. Sometimes I also listen to audiobooks that I've read before but really loved-it's just a nice way to pass the time in the car.

I just took a playaway out from the library last night-it's really cool. I never take the time to load a book onto my computer then my ipod so this was just so convenient. Basically I'm just obsessed with books in any format!

Tera (TheBookishAbyss) | 231 comments I have "piles" physical book pile next to my bed and the book "pile" in my iPod. When I am searching for books at the library, if I run across some that are on CD I grab them and put them on my iPod because there is no way for me to read while doing dishes, fixing dinner, doing laundry, working out. If I am not busy with my kids, then you will often find me getting housework done with my iPod on. I am such a book addict that I can't handle not being able to at least listen to a book at times when I can't actually pick one up and read myself.

When I first started using audiobooks to help me get through my reading list, I had a hard time listening because I, too, am a speed reader and it reminded me of grade school when I had to wait for the slower readers. Very impatient and when I read I was always getting in trouble because I read to fast for others to follow, but listening to books, with the knowledge that I wouldn't be able to get through all the books I do without them, has helped me to calm down and actually enjoy the reading of others. My husband thinks I must be the only person on earth with an iPod that has audiobooks and no music. To him, I am a total nerd, but with at least 2000 books on my reading will I possibly even make a dent without listening to books?

message 10: by Emily (new)

Emily | 74 comments I was also sort-of skeptical about audio books (although I always try to sell them my reluctant middle school readers). However, I just started listening to A New Earth by Tolle on CD and am really enjoying it. I am trying not to use my cell phone when I drive, so it has made driving solo much more enjoyable. Today I found myself searching for more laundry to fold (I couldn't believe it myself) just so I could finish a chapter.

As for the cheating, I think the point of reading is to be exposed to the content of the literature anyway that that happens. I also remind myself that if I were blind, I would almost have to "read" audio books. Put that way, listening is reading. My suggestion would be to give it another go.

message 11: by Kristi (last edited Jul 23, 2008 05:22PM) (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) I love audio books...I'm a drafter and when I get into drafting a building I turn on a good book and let my hands draft and my mind listen to the book. If I need to read of pay close attention I pause the book and do that task and then return to my book while I draft. My co-worker look at me like I'm crazy when I hit a funny part of a book and start laughing out loud.

I have found though, that I can't listen to abridged books, I feel like I'm missing out on parts of the stories!!

message 12: by Mary Todd (new)

Mary Todd (marytodd) | 924 comments I read a lot. I also have a garden, a house to do work in and a barn with two horses. If I don't listen to a book on tape, I find the book I'm currently reading 'calls to me' and I stop working and go read. When I listen to a book, I find myself, too, looking for a few more tasks to finish a chapter! Being a drama teacher, I have favorite readers and ones I will not listen to. Barbara Rosenblatt is the ABSOLUTE BEST. And the man who reads the Jan Karon series about the Episcopal priest's life in a small town is also incredible.

message 13: by *Nan* (new)

*Nan* (nan4471) In regards to my adding audiobooks to my list, I ONLY listen to UNABRIDGED audiobooks so I feel that is the same as reading. I might have the same feeling about not listening to them if they were the abridged version.

message 14: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) It does make a difference whether the recorded book is abridged as well as who it is read by. As I said before, I like them read by the author best; but some with the characters "acted out" by different voices are the best for some genres.

For instance, I enjoyed Pullman's "Dark Materials" this way, and I would never have chosen them if not for needing entertainment on a long road trip with my daughter!

I believe we have to take every opportunity to take in as much as we can of good literature.

message 15: by Bishop (new)

Bishop (a_bishop) | 152 comments Thanks for the comments. I've decided to give it a go and signed up at

I ordered Pynchon's, Against the Day first (unabridged). By my count, it amounts to ~58 hours of listening time, which seems insane to me. I suppose a 1000+ page book takes some time to read, but the guy reading it is SO slow! Oh well, I'll keep listening for a while, maybe it will grow on me.

On a side note, I find that I am pretty easily distracted while listening and that I tend to lose track of character names, who is speaking, etc. We'll see how this goes. It may be that it is just not for me. Who knows.

message 16: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 335 comments I too only listen to unabriged readings. How could the book be the same if they can condense it into 2 hours?

message 17: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) Bishop:

My mind wander a good deal during "The Audacity of Hope". I had to listen to almost every chapter at least twice. That one really turned out not to be a good choice for an audio book for me.

Listening while a passenger in a car/train/plane for long trips works best for me with audio books. Otherwise, they have to have a pretty compelling plot to keep my mind from wandering and allow me to remember what was happening when I left off when interrupted.

I'm glad you are giving it a try though.

message 18: by Bishop (new)

Bishop (a_bishop) | 152 comments Yeah, I was doing some electrical work around the house today and it was really hard to stay focused. Only about 55 more hours to go!

message 19: by Jen (new)

Jen Donnelly Scott Brick is my favorite reader. :)

message 20: by Yz the Whyz (last edited Aug 03, 2008 09:00AM) (new)

Yz the Whyz (whyz) I love to read and to listen. It took me a while to get the hang of listening to audio books, but once, I got into it, its another form for me to catch up with my "to be read" or shall I add, "to be listened" pile. I usually do my listening while driving, and I have finished several books, just using my daily commute time.

One thing, for certain, though, I will never listen to an abridged version. It's either the complete book or not at all.

Furthermore, I've discovered that there are some authors whose works I appreciate more if I listened than when I read them, and there are some that I have to read, really see the words to fully enjoy it. So, I guess, I just apply my own discretion, on whether I'm going to read or listen to a book.

message 21: by Melani D (new)

Melani D I adore audio books! I've been a fan since back when you could only get them on cassette tapes!

When I was traveling back and forth from Maine to Texas all the time, I loved being able to listen to a book while also working on whatever needlework project I had going.

I often listen to them now while I work or while I'm knitting and such. Now that it's so much easier to buy audio books, I am pretty careful about checking out the narrator. If the voice gets on my nerves, I'll never enjoy the book.

And like others have said, I have listened to many books and truly enjoyed them that I simply would have never read on my own.

message 22: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 312 comments I have come to appreciate audio books as a way to still read when I have a long car trip. There are, of course, some narrators who are better than others. One of the best audio books I've encountered was Amy Tan's Saving Fish From Drowning read by the author. Tan just made this book so entertaining. I loved it.

message 23: by Mary Todd (new)

Mary Todd (marytodd) | 924 comments Amy Tan is a fabulous reader! The guy who reads "The Cat Who..." books is great, too.

message 24: by Candy (last edited Nov 30, 2008 08:15PM) (new)

Candy (candyshann) I have always appriciated audio books. Now that I live only two blocks away from work I have not used them. They led me to some new authors and reads that would not have been a choice for me otherwise. Simply lAudio books is a place to go for great renting.

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