Yesterday, I was poking around Jane Friedman’s blog and read Kristen Tsetsi’s post, “Resolving My Cheater Shame: Listening to Books Instead of Reading Them.” It was a different take for me.
I have absolutely never felt like I was cheating, probably because I don’t listen instead of reading. I listen to some books and I read others. There are books that I will listen to, usually adult nonfiction, that I would not read simply because it isn’t tightly written enough to keep me focused on the page.
That said, I do tend to feel odd calling it “reading.” I catch myself distinguishing between books I listen to and books I read.
I read picture books and early readers. I do not listen to them even when audio is available. The illustrations are just too great a part of the experience.
I listen to more adult books, nonfiction and mysteries, than I read. I listen while I use my husband’s rower. I listen while I do dishes and fold laundry. I listen while I knit, crochet or bead. Unless I’m learning a new pattern. Sometimes a tricky pattern requires my full attention.
My husband and I listen on car trips. That’s a big deal for us. He’s been using it as an opportunity to introduce me to authors he’s reading that I haven’t experienced yet.
Like Tsetsi, I feel bad sometimes when I can’t stand the voice actor and have to turn the book off. Sometimes it is because the person reads in a monotone and there just isn’t any inflection. Other times there is too much inflection and they are just over the top. I gave up on one book last week, and I was almost 1/5 of the way through, because the female main character was a bad ass and the reader played her bad ass to the max and it was just too much bad assery.
Will I read this book in print? Probably not. I had heard enough of the story to realize that, to me, it felt contrived.
Listening to a book is a different experience than reading it myself. It is a great way for me to experience books in translation when I don’t know how to say people’s names and place names. Do I feel like I’m cheating? No. It isn’t reading but I am experiencing the story and the characters and the pacing. Not reading, but different.