16/Dec/2023 18:26:16 • Audio • 03:30

Suppose somebody asks you if you've read a particular book, and you haven't actually read it, but you've listened to the audiobook. You know the author, you know their voice, you know—and when I say voice, their authorial voice, that doesn't mean that they necessarily narrated the audiobook. But you know the characters, you know the general outline of the plot, but you didn't read it. Did you read the book? What's the answer? Yes or no? I mean, either answer is going to be misleading or incomplete, right? So I have a lifelong love affair with science fiction. I've been writing a reminiscence, you might say, or a recounting of my history with science fiction literature, which you can find on my Patreon blog, And in recent—I'd say not recent decades—in the last five years or so, almost all of the new sci-fi fiction that I have taken in has been in the form of audiobooks. I have not read a paper science fiction book in quite a long time. But I can go through my Audible library and list lots and lots of sci-fi authors whose work I'm familiar with from the audiobooks. And in some series of, you know, long series of audiobooks, I've read some of the books, and I've listened to others as audiobooks, and I can't tell you from memory which is which. In my memory, there's no difference. And in some cases, the narration brings something new to an audiobook. For example, I'm reading the Caiaphas Cain novels set in the Warhammer 40k universe, which is this super self-serious, grimdark setting. But Caiaphas Cain's books are very lighthearted, and they don't take the setting or the premise of the setting seriously. It's all about this guy, Commissar Caiaphas Cain, who is a hero of the Imperium. And yet these are his secret private memoirs in which he admits, possibly unfairly, that these actions that he took that other people saw as courageous and heroic were actually self-serving and cowardly. But, you know, the observers didn't have his viewpoint. And the narration is excellent. The narrator is very good, and then there's another narrator for the editor because there's lots of footnotes that have a different voice. And then sometimes the narrative is supplemented with excerpts from other works. And those other works have different authors, and they have different narrators for those as well. And it's really excellent. And, you know, there would be something lost if I only read the books. But at the same time, you know, if you're listening to an audiobook—or maybe I should just use the first person. When I'm listening to an audiobook, I get distracted. My thoughts go elsewhere, and I will miss big stretches. And even though, you know, I'm not even paying attention to the flow of words, they continue without my active participation. And so I can miss a lot. Or sometimes I'll listen in bed, and I'll fall asleep, and I'll forget to set the timer, and I'll wake up the next day, and I'll have a prompt from Audible asking me to rate the book that I slept through. You know, so reading, like actually physically reading a dead tree book, goes into the brain differently, or so research says, than text read from a screen, and certainly differently from text that is read to you. So what do you think? Does listening to an audiobook count as reading the book? If you've heard the audiobook, and somebody says, have you read it? What's the answer? Thank you.

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Okay, so first to answer your question whether or not a book listened is a book read My answer would be an emphatic. Yes. I don't think there should be any shame or stigma Attached to reading a book in audio. I sometimes go to a meeting of a slightly unusual book club Where where everybody tells others about a book they've recently read. So there's no single book that everybody reads and There's a guy who I think almost exclusively reports on books he read in audio and I don't think it ever occurred to anyone to call him out and say hey You haven't really read this. Have you so this guy if I may reveal something about him, hopefully not too personal He was working a manual job I think it was loading and unloading things in a warehouse and one of the perks of that job was that while he was pretty busy physically you know doing all the loading and unloading but Mentally he was kind of free and his brain was free So he got into the habit of listening to audiobooks at work and he would just go through them like candy he would show up after a workweek having listened to at least three or four and would have to listen to his reports on three or four books every week and Again, nobody ever called him out on this now the thing about losing track of what you're listening to That has happened to me as well, but in all fairness I first I think it you can take it as a signal that maybe it's time to take a break and Second of all, I think it can happen to you while you're reading as well at least it's happened to me when I turn the page and I can't summarize the previous page and Finally, yes, I may be biased Towards audio, but I think audio carries additional Information and I especially enjoy Listening to something that's that's read by the author Even though I know that the author is not always the best reader of their own works But in you know It just so happens that I some of the best audio books that I listened to were read by the author So I always kind of take it as a bonus But you know what this got me thinking and so you might get a separate post out of me on this very subject So thank you very much for giving me food for thought