Audiobooks. They have more in common with podcasts than with actual books. Part of why I’m not using my books category photo for this post because let’s face it, audiobooks and books are not the same thing.
Think of it like this: what do you normally do when you listen to a podcast? I do housework, adult coloring books, drive to/from work or to the beach, exercise at the gym or power walk with my dog, wander around the grocery…
People generally do these while listening to audiobooks, too. A friend of mine use to sit and listen to audiobooks at work while working (with headphones, of course).
Now, what do you do when you read a book? You read. That’s it.
Something very special happens to your brain when you are reading. Your imagination is being opened, your cognitive skills work overtime as you engage with the text one-on-one. There is no multitasking when you are reading. If there is, and you for example take a book to the gym, you’re doing it wrong.
It isn’t so much that there is a wrong way to read, but that you are not allowing yourself to fully engage with a book unless you are giving it your undivided attention.
In today’s culture, giving one thing our full attention and focus without multitasking on ten other things is kind of looked down on. We are expected to be doing all of the things all of the time, yet taking an hour to sit and read in a quiet room to ourselves just isn’t valued.
At the end of every year when I look back on my Goodreads page I think about each of the books I’ve read and the wonderful times I spent connecting with the books. I would hate for that to be tainted by thinking about all the other things I did while reading or while listening to an audiobook, which is not reading. Audiobooks shouldn’t even be counted as ‘books read’ on Goodreads either, but I guess if you’re going to cheat like that you may as well be upfront about it, right?
People who love reading love not just the stories inside books, but the actual physical acting of sitting still, somewhere quiet, and reading. Reading does not mean listening while your eyes wander around the room. People who say they love books and love to read but are only listening to audiobooks can’t really say that they love reading; what they love is listening.
Books are great, Kindles are fine, audiobooks and podcasts are swell, but let’s not continue to get them all mixed up together. If you are listening, you are not reading.