If it’s not reading, then what is it?

I am stealing inspiration again. I was reading a post on Book Mama’s blog, one of the blogs that I read regularly, which asked where do you like to read.

I love to read, but like most people in the modern world I find I have far too little free time. I enjoy reading to my kids at bedtime, and I will say there is nothing quite as relaxing as reading a good book whilst having a hot bath. I always used to read in bed, but I find that it is the most sure-fire way of falling asleep, which is ironic as I struggle to fall to sleep when trying (I know, I know … read until I drop off, but then I end up reading the same page over and over) so I usually just read short form stuff like the Jeremy Clarkson books and Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit, which whilst being very entertaining are unlikely to change my life in any meaningful way.

So here is where I declare myself as a huge fan of audiobooks. They are great! For the past few years I have been listening to audiobooks whenever I get the opportunity, be it going to the shop to get groceries, loading the dish washer, cleaning the car, I even listened to a book whilst laying the lawn in my last house.

When I talk to people about it I find quite a lot of “book snobbery” (usually Mrs Geek), as if because I have not literally read the text of the book then I have not READ it. This does not make a great deal of sense to me. It is not like watching the film, the heavy lifting is still done by the imagination and I pretty much always go for unabridged titles. It is as if the act of reading the actual text validates my claim to having read the book.

I have not stopped reading to my son now that he can read for himself; on the contrary, he would complain quite bitterly if I did, as there really is something quite luxurious about being read to. He likes to read, if given good material, but he also loves being read to.

Actually I read to both of my children every night. Now they have not literally read the book, but they know it’s story, they have enjoyed the books content, should they not be entitled to say that they have read the book, and if not how you label their experience. Maybe there should be a more generic word for having consumed a book’s contents.

The way I see it, audiobooks are not a replacement for reading or even reading literature, they do however provide me with an opportunity to read consume book content more often and at times when reading would be entirely impractical.

A Short History of Tractors in UkrainianThe book I am currently listening to is A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian which has been given very good write ups and won the Orange Prize for Fiction, however I was finding it rather slow paced, and would probably have given up on it were I reading it. However it has grown on me and I will pass further comment later.

3 Responses to If it’s not reading, then what is it?

  1. ebookguru says:

    I like audio books for the times when I am driving alone. I prefer them to music on a long drive.

    I agree they don’t replace written literature, but a good audiobook on a few hour drive makes the time pass by much quicker.

  2. Mr Geek says:

    I totally agree. This is how I first got into audiobooks, back when I had an hour commute to and from work each day.

    Boy I got through a lot of books that year!

  3. […] reclaimed some of this time by “reading” The Time Traveller’s Wife via audiobook whilst doing the gardening. This book was amazing (I […]

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