Books vs. Audiobooks

This week, two of my three regular posts will focus on audiobooks, as they are something I have wanted to talk about for quite a while now, and I have so many thoughts I’d love to share and discuss.

Until maybe two years ago, I was that person who claimed people who liked audiobooks weren’t “real” readers. I also didn’t understand people who had no real way of organizing their books on their bookshelves or people who preferred ebooks over the real thing.

I fully regret feeling that way now, but that’s just what I thought back then. Books were my territory and anyone who dared to venture into it had better share my beliefs. Basically, I was an angsty teen, haha.  

Now, I’ve done a complete 180 and color code my bookshelves, listen to audiobooks whenever it’s the more convenient option, and prefer ebooks for easy reading at night.

However, I am still quite picky when it comes to audiobooks. The narrator always has to pass a sort of “test” for me to be able to continue on with it–a test of whether or not they will affect my reading experience (in either a positive way or a negative way).

By that I mean: Sometimes a narrator completely ruins the story for me. Sometimes they don’t have any sense of emotion in their voice; sometimes they have too much. Sometimes they pronounce words in a beyond irritating way; sometimes they are perfectly eloquent. Sometimes they even pronounce names wrong, and I’d rather die than listen to them mispronounce my favorite characters’ names. (Okay, a bit dramatic, but it still bothers me to no end.)

For example, when I was listening to the audiobook of Champion by Marie Lu, I was beyond frustrated with the narrator. She spoke like a robot and kept pronouncing the word “forward” like “foe-word.” It sounds silly, but I literally could not stand it. 

Normally that wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, but the word “forward” was mentioned in nearly every chapter–sometimes more than once. Eventually, I had to stop listening to the audiobook, and pick up the physical book, as I knew that if I kept listening, it was going to prevent me from enjoying the book. And, boy, the difference it made… 👌🏼

On the other hand, sometimes a narrator can tell the story in a way you never could have experienced just by reading.

For example, I also listened to the audiobook of Where She Went by Gayle Forman, and loved it to death. I can’t imagine reading the book and loving it more than the audiobook, as the narrator perfectly conveyed all of Adam’s–the protagonist–thoughts and emotions in a way that might not have had the same impact as if I had actually read them. To me, he really was Adam. This was the one that actually made me change my opinion regarding audiobooks.

Another great thing about audiobooks, is that you can listen to them in addition to actually reading the books.

For example, I own all of the Game of Thrones books (in hardback, no less), but they always seemed a bit daunting to me. Which is probably a common feeling when you know you’re going into a book with hundreds of characters, so many places and references, and plot twists galore, but still. I was desperate to make sure I would fully understand them and love them like I did the show.

It was then brought to my attention that the few people I knew who had completed the series actually listened to the audiobooks. So, even though I probably could have read the books by themselves, I decided to purchase the audiobooks from Audible and alternate between them or sometimes even listen while reading. Which is kind of like how teachers at school would make you take notes but also verbally explain all of the lessons–it reinforces everything that you’re learning, or in this case, reading.

Some people learn more/are affected more by reading, and some people learn more/are affected more by listening, and audiobooks give us the chance to find out which type we are.

Another positive is, to be totally honest, sometimes my eyes just don’t feel like reading, even if I am in the mood to. And so, audiobooks offer me (and anyone else in the same boat) the chance to dive into whatever story you were wanting to experience.

Or, they are there for you when you’re just too physically tired to hold a book (which may sound ridiculous, but I was recently in the hospital and audiobooks are what got me through my stay).

The only downside other than bad narrators that I could come up with is fantasy novels or other books that have complicated or foreign character names/settings. Sometimes it’s harder to keep up with all of them, but the bigger issue is with reviews. Once I’m ready to write one, or even just talk about the book, I have no idea how to spell or say them, as I have also learned to not always trust the narrator’s pronunciations. Really, it’s not that big of an issue though, because I instead make sure to look up/ask a friend for the names and spellings beforehand, so I can keep everything straight.

Ultimately, I decided who cares whether or not people are listening to a book rather than reading it, because the most important thing is that they are supporting and encouraging authors to continue giving us their wonderful stories, as we all know that sadly reading has fallen out of favor over the past years.

Plus, it can lead to you finding others who love the same story, even if they experienced it in a different way. Honestly, people all of the time read the same physical book or ebook, but “experience” it differently, so why should audiobooks be any different?

Thanks for reading and I’d love to know your thoughts! Do you prefer books or their audiobooks? And what about books versus ebooks? I may just have to make a post about that dilemma as well. 

– Taylor


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