Sometimes I get funny looks from people. Not necessarily bad looks. They are more like split-second flashes of surprise or confusion.
There have been a few occasions when I have gotten those looks after saying a sentence similar to, “I was listening to this book the other day…” And there it is–the look. The look that says, “Don’t you mean ‘read’?” And I have to explain that I really did mean listen, as in an audio book. And then I may hear things like, “That’s cheating!” or “That’s not the same as reading.”
I started “listening to books” when I was old enough to go on road trips with my family. On a twelve-hour drive to Florida, before DVD fixtures were put into every mini van, audio books were the best way to make the time pass other than my parents’ famous hand-puppet theater.
There are pros and cons to audiobooks. The cons are that you don’t get to experience the classic feel and smell and mind-consuming bliss of reading the pages of a book. That, and sometimes the reader’s voice is so obnoxious or dull that you can’t stand them past the first chapter. If you are studying the book for class, you run into the problem of not being able to bookmark pages or underline significant sentences, which is why having a hard copy available is a good idea.
However, there are several pros as well. First, I would never consider it “cheating” to listen to a book. For a child learning to read, yes: that would be cheating. But I know how to read. I can pay attention to the language, story, metaphors, and other literary devices and themes of a book as much with my ears as with my eyes. Second, listening is a great way to get your readings in while driving, cleaning, walking, or working out.
I am a slow reader, so this is especially useful when I am assigned a lot of books at once. I once listened to Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. As a five-part book with quite a few chapters about politics, history, and philosophy, (not to mention hundreds of confusing French words to struggle through), I would never have been able to read this book in the time I did without listening to it–even as an English major. Plus, I got to hear the French words pronounced and go around thinking in an accent for a month. Lastly, listening to books allows me to be productive with my hands while simultaneously developing my mind through literature. Sometimes, being lazy and reading all day is fantastic. Other times, there is simply too much to do to spend hours on the couch.
Listening to books is easy. Simply download the OverDrive Media app onto your iPhone, find your local library in the app, and log in using your library card. Then, you can download books for free!
You can also find copies of audio books at the WKU library. Also, the Warren County Public Library–which you can sign up for as a student resident of Bowling Green–has thousands of books available on the OverDrive app and the RBdigital app., and hoopla. See more information here: https://warrenpl.org/online-catalog/#ebook-audio
You can sign up for a digital library card for the Warren County Library here: https://warrenpl.org/forms-and-policies/digital-services-library-card-request/.
So next time you go on a road trip or have long commute to drive every day, I encourage you to use that time to read–that is–listen to books.
Happy Reading (and listening)