Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Listening vs. Reading

I don’t think I mention this all too often (or maybe I have and have forgotten), but many, aka most, of the books I “read” I actually listen to. I don’t get much reading time and even when I do have the time, I usually wind up falling asleep. Ergo, it took almost no time for me to fall in love with audio books since they mean I can “read” while I clean, walk the dog, drive to work, file papers, bill, etc., etc. I even have loudspeakers now so I can listen while I shower or bathe.

There’ve been a lot of discussions about this since some people don’t consider audio books reading, or only reading to a certain extent or they do consider it reading and think people who don’t consider it reading are snobs. Everyone seems to have a different view. Personally I think that it doesn’t much matter if you’ve read or listened to the words, if you’ve comprehended what’s being said, you’ve “read” the book. If I go back and actually read a book I’ve already listened to, I’m repeating the story. I already know what happens, what’s said, what the characters think and feel, so for me it’s a re-read, even if I “only” listened the first time.

Having said that, I think the experience is different for every person. Some people don’t do well with audio input, others don’t do well with visual input. There are people with learning difficulties who can’t assimilate the written word and use simulated speech software in order to read and write and I personally consider that to be as valuable as any input from anyone else. As long as you understand the text, you’re “reading”. So, just because someone hasn’t physically read a book, doesn’t mean they haven’t read it, in my humble opinion.

The point of all this? Well, Audible had another sale. I swear Amazon practically owns my soul by now. OK, they don’t really own my soul, that’s not something I would sell, but you know what I mean. Anyway, 100 plus books for $5. This is a seriously clever tactic because what’s $5 for 10-20 hours of entertainment? You can’t even find paperbacks for that nowadays (not here anyway). So, I bought 9 of them. I won’t be eating much for the rest of the month, but I need to diet anyway.

What I bought:

The Alchemist's Pursuit - Dave Duncan - I like a little fantasy/sci fi now and again.
The French Lieutenant's Woman - John Fowles - Always heard of it but have never read it. This one will be added to my classics challenge list, just on the strength of it being one of those ones you hear about.
Death at the Bar - Ngaio Marsh - I’ve heard much about Marsh, but have never read/listened to any of his books, mostly because Audible isn’t authorized to sell them in my geographical region (I’m hoping this improves now that they’ve been bought out by Amazon).
The Enchanted April - Elizabeth von Arnim - This one just sounded good and the narrator is excellent.
The Winter Garden Mystery - Carola Dunn - Same as above, and it was rated well too.
The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton - Ditto
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe - I tried to read this one but never got very far. I think it might be a lot better in audio format since what I had trouble with was the written dialect. I’m hoping to get through it this time anyway. Combined with the Classics Challenge incentive, maybe I will.
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - I like the narrator and when isn’t this one just pleasant to read?
The Chorister at the Abbey - Lis Howell - This one sounded like it might be a good fluff mystery and I liked the narrator.

Like I said, the price was good and if I don’t like them all, well, I’ve spent much more on books I ended up not caring for. At least this way, I’m not losing my shirt on them. Has anyone read/listened to any of them and if so, what did you think?


avoriana said...

You convinced me to get The Winter Garden Mystery, upping my total books from this sale to 5.

Scrabblequeen said...

Right now, I'm doing both Reading and Listening....they both have a place in my life. To me, the big downside to listening is not know when you're going to get a reader you just can't stand. Off to check out the sale..I've read some of the books you bought, but not listened to any of them.

Lady Rook said...

I loved The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and the Secret Garden was one of my favourites when I was a kid. :)