All right, listen up!

About a week ago, I read a little article wherein the author asked the question, "Have you audioread any good books lately?"  Ever the inquisitive sort, she (I think it was a she) also asked, "Is listening to a book the same as reading a book?" and answered herself with a firm "Yes!"  Then she recommended a handful of audiobook titles, but I can't remember what they were because I was still caught up in her two questions.  And I decided I didn't like them.  Well, actually, I decided I didn't like the word "audioread":  it's stupid and unnecessary because we have the perfectly lovely and useful "listen".

As for the second question, I disagree that listening to a book is the same as reading a book.  I'm not talking about the benefits of reading or listening to a book, like the "intellectual enrichment, emotional satisfaction, entertainment" (as a Forbes writer put it when discussing the same question), and, I would add, appreciation of an author's writing style, that a book gives you.  I'm also not talking about if you get more out of reading or listening.

Suppose you're bedridden with digestive tract problems and you have a tube going up your nostril, through your nasal cavity, down your esophagus, and into your stomach, and there's a bag of some protein- and vitamin-enriched slop hooked up to your little machine, which pumps it all into you, and someone comes in just afterwards and says, "Have you eaten today?"  You can say, "No, my meals are pumped into me, as you can plainly see.  Now leave me alone," and it will be completely true.  You can also say "Yes" and it will be sort of true, because the stuff got into your stomach even though you didn't use your tongue, tastebuds, teeth, saliva, throat, etc, to get the job done.  The food didn't even touch any part of your mouth, which is where we consider the eating process to begin.  But you're not going to say, "I pumpconsumed my breakfast today.  It's the same as eating."

Here's another scenario:  suppose it's Thanksgiving and you're sitting with your siblings and cousins in your grandmother's backyard, eating your turkey-and-trimmings dinner at a picnic table, while all the adults are enjoying their food and intelligent conversation indoors.  Suppose also that you hate dressing and, after one little nibble of soggy bread cubes, you try to sneak it onto your brother's plate, and your brother over-retaliates (as brothers are wont to do) by not only giving you your own dressing back but some of his as well.  Suppose you then hit upon the brilliant idea of furtively tossing small, squished up handfuls of dressing over the back fence into the neighboring orchard, and execute the plan so well that when your mother comes out to check on your progress and says, "Did you eat your dressing?", you can say "Yes" and it will be sort of true because of that little nibble you took.  But you're not going say "I overthefenceate it" because your mother will punish you even though you try to explain how it's the same as eating.  And she will probably say something like, "How many times have I told you not to waste food?"  But she will never say, "Why don't you ever audioread me?"

There is nothing wrong with saying, "I listened to a book."  I've listened to a few myself.

There is also probably nothing wrong with saying, "Oh, I read that book" when you actually listened to it, because it got into your brain somehow, even if it wasn't through your eyes.  (Even though I don't see why you can't just say, "I listened to that book", because there's no shame in it.)

There is no good reason to say, "I've audioread a few good books lately."  If you say it to me, I will mentaltoss you over my grandmother's back fence into the neighboring orchard.


Megan said...

You are so funny! I'm guessing that overthefenceeating incident actually happened... Ug I wish I was intentionally funny and could amuse you with a comment. Oh well. Be satisfied that Shannon, Sam and I were amused when we read your story.

And audioread? Bla.

Shannon said...

Ok I'm curious about your precise thoughts on when people ONLY ever listen to books and then they're like "Oh I've read SOOO many books" and you actually did read instead of listen...
Or when they can't even hear you

Shannon said...

...because they are always "reading"?
I don't think listening to a book counts as much when it's fiction. Because you imagine in differently and you have all those obnoxious voices plaguing your mind instead of coming up with them on your own. I say it doesn't quite require quite as much imagination, I say. Anyguay.

Janeite42 said...

Shannon, I think you get as much information from listening as from reading, possibly more, because as the article I read stated, we're more used to paying attention while listening, because we're supposed to be polite or whatever. But it's no rudeness to suddenly stop reading to attend to something else. However, I think I agree that you use your own imagination more when you read than when you listen, for the reasons you mention. But I think listening to a story counts as much as reading it, if you're just talking about getting the story. If you're in it for the author's style or other elements other than plot, then I think reading it gives you an advantage over listening to it. Mais à chacun son goût.