After a particularly heated discussion with workmates and an offhand comment from someone in my book club, I need to know – does listening to a book on audio count as reading?
Actually, that’s a lie. I already know the answer to that question, what I really need is backup. Because I absolutely, positively think it counts as reading. Obviously, there are issues with the word ‘read’, seeing as most dictionary definitions require the text to be ‘looked’ at for it to be read, but language is evolving, so let’s just make a new verb that encompasses all forms of book consumption. (Come on, if twerking can make it into the dictionary, I’m pretty sure we can get this one across the line.)
The main reason I feel, no, scrap that, the main reason I know it counts as reading is that the end result is the same. Whether I read Jane Eyre with my eyes or listened to it, I still know how it begins, how it ends and everything in between (with the exception of the bits I skimmed, but that’s beside the point). So, what’s the difference? If someone asks me a question about a novel, and I’ve listened to it on audio, I’m still going to be able to answer the question.
One of the arguments against is that if someone is ‘reading’ a book to you, they could influence how you feel about certain issues, characters and plotlines, which doesn’t leave much room for you to interpret things on your own. I get that, and maybe that’s part of the reason that I’ve only ever read (that’s right, READ) non-fiction books on audio. But I still don’t think that means you can’t say you’ve read the book. It just means someone else has interpreted it for you – which, well, that doesn’t sound so bad to me. Maybe if I’d read the Sound and the Fury on audio I’d have some idea of what it all meant.
One of the other arguments I have heard bandied about is that people don’t feel like they concentrate as hard or as well when they are listening to something, as opposed to reading something with their eyes. Well, that’s not really my problem. Just because you need to clean out your ears and learn to concentrate doesn’t mean you’re not reading.
What about blind people who listen to audiobooks? Does this mean they are not allowed to claim to have read a single book in their lives? Does reading in Braille even count?
Help me out here people? Am I being unreasonable? Do you think listening counts as reading?
Categories: Book life