Reading Today

Are reading books and listening to Audio-Books the same?


Great question! They are different experiences, as they are different from seeing a book as a movie or TV show.

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I am a fan of the writer Martin Cruz Smith, and as it happens I’ve experienced his work in all three media. I first saw his story of Soviet (now Russian) detective Arkady Renko in the movie “Gorky Park;” then listened to the audiobook of “Polar Star;” and have since read the remaining novels in the series.

When reading, you read at your own pace, and you have to decide on the pronunciation of character and place names. You can appreciate the turns of phrase the author uses. When listening, the narrator sets the pace and decides on pronunciations, and you begin to hear the characters in the narrator’s voice; you can still appreciate the writing. A movie makes everything concrete, and you are given a clear visualization of the characters. (As it happens, I think of Renko as shorter and more gaunt than William Hurt, who portrayed him in the movie.) But the language is replaced with the screenwriter’s dialogue and the director’s vision.

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A good reader makes for a good audiobook. Depending on how attentive you are, the audiobook experience may be faster and easier to understand than reading, but you have difficulty going over the good parts again.

The biggest difference that I’ve noticed is that general recall decreases with an Audiobook. This is because it is much more difficult to review certain areas of an audiobook and because you’re almost always engaged in something else while listening such as driving/hiking/exercising/cooking.

A solid book allows you to pause to look up a word, a historical character’s biography, easily re read parts that didn’t make sense and skip back to review something you may have forgotten.

I personally love audiobooks and have had to purchase the solid copy of a few audiobooks so that I could get more out of them.

Audiobooks should be considered more of an introduction to complex informative books and an ideal platform for fiction.

What do you think?