Do audio books count as reading?

This was the question asked on an episode ofBooks on the nightstand that I was listening to yesterday (episode #263 aired January 15th 2014). The hosts of the show (Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman) were of the opinion that it does.

According to them, listening to an audio book counts as reading because while you may not be physically reading the book, you hear and absorb it exactly as the author wrote it. You hear every single word exactly as it was written and you have an opportunity to visualize the places and the characters in the book the same way you do when you read it yourself.

The voice of the narrator may add or detract something from the experience, but otherwise it is the same as reading the book. I tend to agree. But I’ve never quite taken to audio books, perhaps because I am so used to reading them myself that I haven’t really tried any other way of doing it.

My kids listen to audio books all the time and they seem to enjoy it. So I thought I’d give it a shot. After all, I listen to the radio while cooking and working around the house. Why not listen to a book instead?

So I got my first audio book. It is ‘Cooked’ by Michael Pollan. It is a book that I’ve wanted for a while and when I found that it had been read by the author himself, I knew I had to have it.

I’ve been listening to it off and on for the past month and It is…a very different way of experiencing a book. The reading is excellent and because it is Pollan himself, his words carry the same conviction that they would on the page, if not a little more.

I’m enjoying it thoroughly. But I cannot help feeling that I would absorb more of the book if I was reading it myself. Maybe that is habit talking or maybe it is because I only listen to the book while I’m doing something else, so it never gets the kind of attention that it would if it was a regular book…

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