Audiobooks: Do They ‘Count’?

I’ve never really seen the appeal of audiobooks. Why sit and listen  to something when you could be reading instead? It didn’t make any sense to me, but then neither do other hobbies like…you know…anything that involves moving or going out or talking to real-live people. What’s more, I’d get even more pickled when people say that they’ve ‘read’ so-and-so book as an audiobook. You didn’t read it then, did youI’d quietly ask (more than quietly – I’d ask in silence). I never thought there was anything wrong with audiobooks of course. If you enjoy listening to books, go for it – why not? But it’s not reading is it? It’s listening. Saying you’ve ‘read’ an audiobook is like saying you ‘read’ the movie version, right?

Reading-booksSo I never really saw the appeal of audiobooks…until recently, that is. You know what I’ve realised? I’ve realised that it doesn’t have to be a static experience, listening to an audiobook. That doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly taken up one of those…sports thingys or that
I’ve spontaneously discovered the joys of physical exertion. Don’t be daft. There are times, though, when I simply can’t stay curled up under a blanked with a good book whilst the rain pitter-patters on the window and the dog snores at my side. There are times, much to my dismay, that I’ve got to actually get off my fat backside and, for example, clean my flat or cook dinner. All those sorts of tasks that I dread having to do (why can’t I just read instead?).

What I’ve realised is that I can make those tasks not quite so…dreadful. I’m sure you’ve guessed how by now. Audiobooks. Audible has an awesome app, meaning I can pop my phone in my pocket and listen whilst I scrub or cook or whatever. What’s even better is that I actually…wait for it…enjoy my daily tasks when I’ve got a good book to listen to! I find myself being disappointed that the kitchen’s already clean. I look for more to do. Audiobooks have given my mundane daily tasks a hint of joy that up until now, was well and truly hidden.

It’s a different experience to reading, that’s for sure. It’s less immersive, perhaps because my attention is half on the job at hand – that ever-growing pile of laundry or the mountain of spuds that need to be chipped for the bar. It needs not to be static too – merely sitting and listening would have me fiddling and fidgeting – if not falling asleep. 800px-India_-_Koyambedu_Market_-_Potatoes_01_(3987050638)It needs to be accompanied by some sort of physical task, for me at least. It also can’t last that long. Whilst I could happily read for five or six hours at a time, after an hour or two of an audiobook, I find myself tuning out, not really listening to the story, and then needing to rewind the next time I pick up my phone.

I’m listening to 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami at the moment and I’m loving it. The book’s right up my street, the narrators are doing an absolutely fantastic job, and the process is undeniably enjoyable. It’s not my first either – I’ve listened to Mars: The Final Day by JR Austin and Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! (read by the fantastic Tony Robinson).

So yeah. I’m not really sure how it happened or why, but I have, without a doubt, become a firm audiobook convert. It’s not going to stop me reading of course, but it might help me get on with the cleaning more often! It’s not only enjoyable but it’ll help me experience more books than through reading alone because, let’s be honest, there’s simply too many books to fit into our short, short lives. I was wrong too – it’s not like watching the film version. In fact, it’s very different from watching a film. But it’s not quite like reading either, so does it ‘count’? I’m not so sure. Take what enjoyment you will from audiobooks, but when I’ve finished 1Q84, will I say I’ve read it? Absolutely not. So here’s to a completely new (to me, at least) medium – I didn’t read it, I didn’t watch it. I listened to it.

Do you listen to audiobooks?

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