Audiobooks vs “real books”

In the last 6 weeks, I have listened to 6 audiobooks through my iPod. I’ve listened to them while walking, sitting down with a knitting project in hand, baking a cake, tidying up around the house, vacuuming, scrubbing the shower with a toothbrush, having lunch out on the porch, sitting on a bus, biking and lying in bed.

I wouldn’t have been able to read proper books at the same time as doing all of the above. And I think that’s the major plus for me when it comes to audiobooks vs “real books”. I actually go through books whithout having to make them a priority over some of those tasks that really need to be done.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been one of those people who check the ending of books before getting there. Holding a book in hand, I always get the urge to check the last sentence after having read only a couple of chapters. Sometimes it totally destroys the book as that last sentence reveals too much, but I can’t help myself. With audiobooks though… It takes so much more of an effort to get to the last sentence that I have enough time to tell myself to quit it. To not bother. And I have to say that stories often get better if I can still be intrigued by the end.

Yesterday I finished the latest book I’ve listened to (Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane) and I realized I reacted so much more to suspense when I heard it rather than read it. The suspension at the end of the book got to me more than it would’ve if I’d read it. I couldn’t fast forward the voice the same way I push through text when using my eyes. Every syllable was there.

My boyfriend asked me yesterday, as I was loading my next audiobook into the computer, if I had given up on reading paper books altogether. No, I haven’t. But I have to say that I like the freedom that audiobooks give me.

I do wonder though, if my iPod will destroy some of the magic around books and reading…


8 responses to “Audiobooks vs “real books”

  1. I thought I was the only person that read the last sentence in the book before I even read the book!!
    For me, reading is kind of like my coffee. I need the ritual of it for it to really be magical. I need to be able to sit down, in my comfy place and loose myself in the abandon of the moment. So, I don’t know if audio books will ever work for me. But, then, who knows. 😉

    Great post!

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving traces!

      Maybe audiobooks is the equivalent to coffee from 7-Eleven? It does what it’s supposed to do, but it isn’t magical… (Says the one who doesn’t ever drink coffee. 🙂 )

  2. I enjoy listening to audio books too when I am on a long bus/train ride or when doing some housework (I’m a guy by the way). was my best friend last year 🙂

    “Number One with a Bullet” written and narrated by Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff is one audio book I enjoyed listening to. Mark is an absolute master in painting the scene with words. He is one heck of a storyteller, able to bring words to life for me. Why? Cos he told the story with such great passion.

    Oh, I still read books too. 🙂

  3. I love Denis LeHane!

    I’m a big fan of audio books, but they’ll never completely replace print for me. I listen while doing most of the same things as you do (well, except for the shower/toothbrush bit), and I love the way the stories help tasks go faster.

  4. I think you cannot really compare the experiences of reading a book and listening to an audiobook. Neurologically speaking, different parts of the brain are active. It has been pointed out that reading and listening are both creative activities, but you get different results – just like knitting and blacksmithing are both creative activities with different results.
    For me to really enjoy an audiobook, I cannot do any real work besides. A twenty km run is a good audiobook activity. Driving from Göttingen to Berlin is not: my attention is more on the street than on the story – which is a good thing when you are doing 130 km/h…
    Reading is a full time activity. There is only me, the book, sometimes some food, and one or two cats.
    That said, I do like audiobooks. Good experiences include: The Swarm by Frank Schätzing (in German); The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (in German); and some Terry Pratchett (in English). Bad experience: Outlander (also published as Fire and Stone) by Diana Gabaldon (in German) – how boring can a voice read a text? But on the other hand, I wanted to know how the story continued, so I got the book and read it instead.

  5. I should get in the habit of using my phone to listen to anything (even if it is just music) while I do things around the house. I’ve always loved audio books in the car on long trips but Shane doesn’t, so I don’t get that any more. I’m glad you are enjoying using your new iPod so much!

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