There’s an argument between readers and non-readers alike over whether listening to an audiobook qualifies as reading. My opinion is that though listening does not involve the physical act of looking at words, listening to a book involves the same mental interpretation and imagination as reading a book in your hands. So, yes, I consider audiobook listening to be real reading.

Despite this opinion, I never listened to an audiobook until now. I enjoy the visual aspect of reading, so I never considered doing otherwise. Many have told me to listen to one while driving, but I like listening to music. I did not consider audiobooks until a few weeks ago.

Ready Player One is a book I’ve wanted to read since publication, but never got around to because there was always something I wanted to read more. With the movie coming out next spring, however, I’ve been feeling the pressure to read it. Then someone mentioned to me that Wil Wheaton narrated the book. The thought of listening to a celebrity read a book has always been of interest, so the name recognition with Wheaton finally convinced me to go the audiobook route. I began listening to Ready Player One while driving.

As I began listening to the book, it finally occurred to me that reading audiobooks is so convenient. It’s amazing that I can drive my car, or do whatever else I want, while listening to an audiobook. Reading a physical book requires your undivided attention.

There are a few weird aspects of listening to a book. I initially thought certain pauses in Wheaton’s narrating were subtle indications of chapter changes, but then 30ish minutes into the narration Wheaton said “Chapter One.” Apparently I missed a “Chapter 0” when I started. It made me wonder how much faster I could read the book in real time versus listening to the reading. The time it takes Wheaton to get through each chapter feels impossibly long, though not at the fault of the narrator. It just takes a really long time to read a book out loud! Then again, maybe Ready Player One has really long chapters. I haven’t looked yet.

As far as the book itself goes, I enjoyed the crazy amount of pop culture references. That alone was enough to carry my interest, but the book has other good aspects. I went through a dystopian fiction phase during high school, and Ready Player One is a stronger book than most of the titles I read during that time. Sure, it has a bunch of stereotypical dystopia elements, but the world-building is good enough in this book that these elements don’t feel overdone. I am not finished reading it, but I like it so far. I probably won’t listen to audiobooks all the time, but I might check one out occasionally.

Do you enjoy audiobooks? Would you rather stick to traditional reading? Do you consider listening to an audiobook “reading”? Let us know in the comments below!


Michaela is a Youth Services Library Assistant for CPL. When she isn't at work, she can be found reading young adult fiction books, visiting a local movie theater or fangirling about all things related to Star Wars.

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7 thoughts on “Trying Out Audiobooks

  1. I have read Ready Player One before, but never listened to the audiobook. I had not heard that Will Wheaton was narrating! When it comes to audiobooks vs physical books, I find that the narration can make a huge difference. The Harry Potter series is excellent on audio, partly because I don’t catch all the little differences in pronunciation when I’m reading it myself, being American and all. All the Star Wars books are great on audio too, and use the movies’ score and sound effects to make it more like a radio drama than a straight read-through.

    1. Star Wars audiobooks use the movie score? That really makes me want to listen to a Star Wars audiobook now… Are there any SW audiobooks in particular that you would suggest?

      1. Oh, any of them are good, but I did particularly enjoy “Kenobi” by John Jackson Miller and the novelization for “Revenge of the Sith” by Matthew Stover.

  2. My husband and I have this argument all the time. He does not consider audio books “reading” even though he’s never listened to one. I, however, do say it counts. Not to mention it’s definitely a way to get in more books during those long daily commutes around Hampton Roads! I had a hard time with The Joy Luck Club though because there was a lot of flashback to present occurrences that I couldn’t keep straight while driving. Otherwise, I like to mix both audio and visual reading. Sometimes I’ll even listen to a book while driving and then continue where I left off in a hard copy :0)

    1. Switching between the hard copy book and an audiobook is a great idea, though I think I would struggle to to find where I left off each time! If I could master the alternation, however, that would be amazing…I’d never have to stop reading because I am not in my car, or vice versa.

  3. I never listened to an audiobook until about 12 years ago when I had a baby who screamed bloody murder in the car. I was desperate to stop the crying (since not driving ever is not possibility) and thought “what the heck, it’s worth a shot” and low and behold, the crying got better! I didn’t totally stop, but the sound of the reading helped to soothe him. AND, I was hooked! The convenience of audiobooks is amazing, just as you said. I work full time and have three kids and I do not have time to sit down with a book. BUT, I listen to books all the time- in the car, while I run, while I walk on my lunch breaks, while I clean the house, whenever I can. I can’t fall asleep without listening to a book- it helps to calm down all those inner thoughts that crowd your brain. Audiobooks definitely count as reading! Enders Game by Orson Scott Card is one of the best audios I have heard- very good narration.

    1. That is definitely the appeal for me… Though I enjoy sitting down with a hard copy book, it is so nice to be able to read while driving that I will probably listen to more audiobooks in the future.

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