Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Audio Books vs. Real Books

I used to be a firmly hard-copy-in-my-hands kind of book reader. I'm kind of a visual learner, so I remember words so much better if I actually see them on a page. Plus, I just like the physicality of actually holding a book in my hand, smelling the ink and glue, bending the spine, dog-earing pages, underlining or writing notes, that kind of thing. I like being able to skim through the boring parts, or slow down and re-read a favorite passage. I like making up my own voices for characters and my own pronunciations for funny names. I love experiencing a book this way, with no outside influences.

With an audio book, you are at the mercy of the narrator. If the recording is twenty hours long, then you must sit through all twenty hours to finish the book, no speed reading or skipping ahead. If the narrator gives a certain accent to a certain character, well, then, that becomes the voice of the character. Which is fine if you have a good narrator (oh, how I love Jim Dale), but if you have a bad narrator, it can just ruin a book.

So yeah, I used to be firmly against audio books.


I've been slowly changing my mind. Recently, I've really become aware of the benefits of audio books, which include:

-Hands Free Reading. I can cook, I can clean, I can play with my kid on the floor, all while "reading" a book. Seriously, the multi-tasking enabled by audio books is a beautiful thing for a stay-at-home-mom (of course, most of the time I just sit and listen while browsing Pinterest, but we don't need to bring that up, now do we?).
-Ease of Access. No more trekking out into the cold or wind or rain to check a book out from the library. Or waiting several days for it to arrive from Amazon. Nope. With just a click of the mouse those little audio files are delivered straight to my laptop, and I'm listening in minutes. Oh technology, what would I do without you?
-Road Trips. Ever since that awful, horrible, no-good, very bad first trimester of pregnancy, I cannot bring myself to read in a moving vehicle. Even checking my email on my phone while sitting in a moving car can bring on waves of nausea. But, with our upcoming cross-country move and other summer road-trips (we just got back from a two-day road trip yesterday), there is simply too much travel time not to make literary use of. Audio books are invaluable on the road now. Luckily my husband and I generally share the same taste in books, so we can listen together.

Essentially, I'm a convert. Bring on the audio books.

What camp are you in?

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