Audiobooks – “Why don’t you just read the books?”

Audiobooks – “Why don’t you just read the books?”

That’s the question I often get when I tell people I listen to audiobooks. Either that or not-so-subtle glances where people want to ask why I listen to audiobooks but don’t quite dare. I can almost hear them thinking about it? Have I got some form of visual impairment? Am I illiterate? But then why do I carry paperbacks and a full e-library in my iPad with me everywhere?

The fact is that I read in all kind of formats. Hardback (and paperback) physical books, E-books, comics (both the physical and the e-variety), magazines and yes – audiobooks.

I became addicted to audiobooks when I lived alone. Cleaning and cooking was always very dull to me and I have always had a long To Be Read list. So, when my ex-girlfriend introduced me to audiobooks as a background track to life, I realised that I could make housework go by a lot faster and tick off some books on that To Be Read list in one move.

My local library was full of CDs and cassettes (look, I was born in the eighties, we had cassettes, deal with it) that had awesome books on them. It didn’t hurt that they were often read by really good actors. It wasn’t long until I had covered all the interesting audiobooks in Swedish in my local library and moved on to listening to ones in English. I’ve never looked back since.

So now I read some books in text form and some I simply listen to. Do I still think I read the books? Yes, I do. Because for me, reading isn’t just something your eyes do, it’s something your brain does. For me, reading is the act of taking in words and giving them meaning and images in your mind. That happens in the same way if I hear the words as if I see them.

I’m glad to say that I’m seeing a lot more audiobooks out there these days and much of the advertising for them point out what I have found – you can partake in some damn good literature while walking between the train and your workplace, while packing boxes at work or while doing the dishes.

So why did I feel the need to write this blog and out myself as an audiobook-fan? Because there is still a bit of a stigma around it. The notion that you are not quite reading the book, or that you are somehow taking the easy route to the book’s contents if you listen to it, is still around. Or, as I mentioned in the start, that you must have another reason for listening to audiobooks than just as a viable alternative to text-based books.

Now, a lot of audiobook readers do read them in that format because they cannot read text-based books, but some of us just want to get our Virginia Woolf or Neil Gaiman books listened to while going for our evening walk. We’re here, we’re listening to our books and we are damn well going to enjoy it!

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