The difference between reading and listening to a book

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There was a time when you went to the library or a bookstore, picked up whatever book interested you, then disappeared into the fantasy world of your choosing. Now, if people aren’t reading something on their tablet, they’re listening to someone read it to them. While plenty of people still enjoy sitting down with a good paperback, the way we receive these stories is gradually changing. Is listening to an audiobook really any different from reading a physical book though?

Keeping yourself busy

Reading books is not something you can do while multitasking. Sure, you might have the TV on in the background while you do it, but reading requires almost all of your focus. If you want the words to stick in your head, you have to pay attention to them. With audiobooks, that’s no longer the case.

Just as you might have music on while doing the dishes or working out at the gym, listening to an audiobook gives you the freedom to do other things while still taking in the story. No, you might not absorb as much information as you would have done while reading, but you will save yourself plenty of time. Rather than telling yourself you’ll wait until the good part of the book is over to do your chores, you can now do both at the same time.

How much time have you got?

We all read at different paces. Some of us can reach the end of a page in 30 seconds, while others need a couple of minutes to get through all the words. There’s no right length of time for reading, but the longer it takes you, the more time you have to invest in a book. You might only need a few hours to get through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but others need something closer to a week.

With audiobooks, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get through a page because it’s not you who’s reading it. You can see before you even start listening to the recording just how much time it’s going to take you, allowing you to plan accordingly. It might still take someone a week to get through the book, but that’s because they’re setting out so many hours a day to listen to it.

Personal differences

The main difference between reading and listening to a book depends on every individual person and how they prefer to take information in. How involved are you when someone tells you a story? Do you hang on their every word, or do you hear what they’re saying without really listening? If you can’t relay back to your friend what they just said then you’re probably one of the latter. In that case, an audiobook won’t do you much good. If you can’t listen to someone you care about, how can you take in a story read to you by a stranger?

At the end of the day, the differences aren’t as significant you might think. Don’t listen to anyone if they say audiobooks are cheating – they’re not. Just do whatever suits you best.

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