Thursday, February 28, 2008

Books versus audio books

I'm making a separate list of the audio books I have listened to in 2008. I'm separating them from the books I've read in print in order to acknowledge the difference in the reading versus listening experience. I only started listening to audio books last year. I usually listen while I'm exercising, jogging, washing dishes, or doing other household chores. That doesn't diminish the experience of the book for me; I don't get any less out of listening to a book than reading one. Still, even though reading and listening are equally active processes, they are not identical. The audio book narrator can add luster to a mediocre book or make a good book dull. There are also the visual and tactile dimensions of reading that are lost in audio books. With my iPod shuffle, I can't easily turn back to the beginning of a chapter to refresh some fact, or puzzle over some unlikely word choice or turn of events, because the story flows on. I can't take notes or bookmark passages to return to later or jot down quotations.

I tend to choose audio books where these won't become issues - fast-paced dramas, mysteries, and the like - light reading that doesn't require too much thought and reflection in the first place.

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