A few years ago, I joined Goodreads. For those of you that don’t know what Goodreads is, I will break it down in the simplest of terms…Goodreads is an online community of READERS. A place for readers and authors to meet and discuss books they’ve read, what they’re planning to read, and pretty much anything related to reading. In other words, biblophile heaven.
My initial reason for joining Goodreads was to keep track of the books I had read (and subsequently to rate them so I could remember which books and authors I liked and which ones had not been for me). On more than one occasion I had started reading an Agatha Christie novel, only to discover about halfway through that I had already read that one. Has that ever happened to you? Silly me, of course it has. I can’t be the only one who reads so many books that I can’t keep track without an app like Goodreads.
Speaking of people that read so many books…
I started befriending other people on Goodreads. And holy moly, did this become a comparison trap. I always thought I was a really fast reader. I had always been the fastest reader in my class in school. As an adult I was able to devour 10 books a month without breaking a sweat, while other people I know would take a month or more to read one book. A goal of reading 70 or 80 books a year was not too lofty for me.
But I found there were quite a few people on Goodreads that were reading in the neighborhood of THREE HUNDRED PLUS BOOKS A YEAR!!!! In a single year! How was that even possible??? As much as I love to read, and as fast as I read, there was no way I’d be able to read that much in a single year. Heck, I’ve had my Goodreads account for close to six years now and I’m barely over the 400 book mark.
How were they doing the impossible? I soon discovered the secret to this was not necessarily speed reading classes or even lack of a job.
These people were doing their reading with audiobooks. Well, a large majority, anyway. I was stunned. I had never considered audiobooks as a possibility. Mostly because of my whole hearing impairment issue. I tend to shy away from audio and video, preferring to read whenever I can. (Yup, that includes TV…I put closed captioned on for EVERYTHING…much to Hubby’s dismay.)
But are Audiobooks Really Considered Reading????
And here was my other thought…does it count as reading if you’re listening to an audiobook? Does it count?
In the big picture, all that matters is that you’ve absorbed the novel somehow, whether it be through your eyes or through your ears. But for Goodreads’ sake, could you count listening to an audiobook the same as reading that book?
Honestly, it felt a little like cheating to me.
Like when I was in high school and couldn’t stand another second of reading Tess of the d’Urbervilles and I went out and got the Cliff Notes version of the book so I could pass 12th grade AP English. That was definitely cheating.
Thus began my displeasure for audiobooks. I refused to even try to figure out how to navigate the audiobook world because I was not going to partake in “Reading cheating”. If a book I wanted desperately was on a hold list a mile long at the library, I would refuse to take out the audiobook, regardless of how badly I wanted to read it. After I had a concussion and couldn’t read for weeks, I refused to listen to audiobooks instead.
Yes, I was a martyr for the cause!
Whatever cause that was.
Still, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the fact that audiobooks have a place in society. People with long commutes, for example. Those that are visually impaired and can no longer read. People who just don’t have the time or the energy to sit and read a book. If this is the only way to devour a book for them, so be it.
And I became even more interested in audiobooks when I realized that those people that enjoyed them were most likely missing out on my books.
I started doing research on audiobooks.
Over the last few weeks, I reluctantly started wading through the endless emails I get from Amazon to find the one that excitedly told me that I could create an audiobook for my own novels (in 985 easy steps…). I cannot ignore the fact that audiobooks are popular, and may actually be the wave of the future soon.
But how could I create an audiobook without knowing what it was that distinguished between a good one and a bad one? Why did people pick one audiobook over another? What is it that
readers listeners were looking for? The story itself? The genre of book? Narrator’s voice?
I picked up my first audiobook last week
My friend told me about Hoopla and I downloaded it to my phone to get my first audiobook from the library. I had been wanting to read Rachel Hollis’s Girl Wash Your Face for awhile, but there’s a long wait list at the library. I was content to stay on the wait list since I had plenty of books to read on the meantime. The opportunity to listen to it came up and I took it.
I had been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. If I use my Skullcandy wireless headphones (why didn’t I discover THESE earlier in life???) I don’t have a problem listening to them as long as the podcasters enunciate well. I figured a non-fiction book narrated by the author would be similar to a podcast and I wouldn’t have too much trouble following it. Thus, I pressed play on my first ever audiobook.
Wow, I had been missing out
All these years that I resisted audiobooks and I missed out. I missed out on listening to books while I worked out. I missed out on listening to books when I cleaned the house. Not to mention the fact I missed out on listening to books while I cooked, did the dishes, or spent endless hours in the car shuttling my children from place to place.
(Can you imagine how many people would have left me alone at my kids’ practices if I had headphones on my ears instead of just a book in my lap??? Why do people talk to me when I’m reading???? Do they think the book in my lap is just a prop???)
At any rate, I am reformed. I WILL listen to audiobooks. In fact, I just downloaded my monthly limit onto my phone.
But don’t call it “reading”…
Despite my change of heart, one thing hasn’t changed. I still can’t call it “reading”. Sure, I’ve experienced the book, but I didn’t read it. I can put it on my Goodreads list, but I feel like I need an asterisk, a disclaimer: I listened to this book…I didn’t read it.
But in the long run, does it matter? The experience of the book, what is learned from the book is what’s important, right?
What do you think about audiobooks? Yea or nah?
If you’re in the Yea category: What interests you about audiobooks? What do you typically listen to? Non-fiction? Thriller? Rom coms?
If you’re on the nay side: What is it that you don’t like about them? Have you tried them, or have you been resisting them like I did for so long?
And for all: Are they “reading” or not?