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Audiobooks and Conventional Reading

We Have Become Too Submissive to Read a Book on Our Own

By AnneePublished 7 months ago 5 min read

As a matter of criticism, hopefully a constructive one, I’ve been recurrently making a comparison between the present time and the old times, say before the industrial advancements, in many aspects and on different levels. Concerning that, it would be reckless not to carefully consider the overall proportion of reading books and people’s interest in doing so, as a crucial and primary device of receiving knowledge and fresh input.

In the age of technology and smart devices with hundreds of features, it is inevitable to maintain a gap between literally anything and its digital format, including books. Following this trend and alongside ebooks, audiobooks have become more popular these days, gaining millions of streams shoulder to shoulder with numerous podcasts. There is little controversy against audiobooks as long as the narrator possesses a charming voice and the overall sound quality squares with the public’s expectations. Nonetheless, there are a few subtle weak spots easy but dangerous to overlook.

Without further ado, let’s delve into it and go over a few items we’re unknowingly missing out by abandoning the old paper books.

We Are Deprived of a Reader’s Freedom

A reader is at liberty to perceive and apprehend the text in line with their personal taste. Opening to the very first pages of Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Height,” for instance, one is free to imagine Heathcliff’s sullen face and bitter tone in whatever way he or she wishes. The readers are capable of building up a connection with the plot and the characters exclusive to themselves. That, however, seems to be gone astray in the sweet-sounding audiobooks. Although many listeners find peace in absorbing the content of a book according to someone else’s tone and expression, it is a let-down to find quite sharp listeners very much blinded by this cushy approach.

What might raise negative attitudes towards this view and make it sound overwhelmingly pessimistic is the ancient tradition of oral storytelling. It has its roots in the ancient times when people had no other choice but to keep stories and poems alive through the means of oral reproduction. Moreover, it is also prevalent now as many of us have had a taste of it at least for once. In any event, is it the same case for us as mature individuals in the 21st century, or are our brains conditioned to consume more digital products of any kind, even if it costs us our freedom?

Visual Imagery Is Seriously Damaged, If Not Completely Omitted

Aside from auditory imagery, there is another important aspect of reading a book without the subtle pressure of a narrator’s unstoppable flow which is visual imagery. It accords not only with novels or types of books that require us to imagine but also with motivational and business-related books as well. The sense of imagination which helps us to bridge words with real-life situations, whether in our past or prospective ones, seems to be a strength of actual books, not the audio versions. How is it efficient and worthwhile to listen to a block of rules and explanations if you don’t have time to relate them to your own life? Unless you’ve joined the army of superficially literate people with tons of completed books gathering dust in their résumés, you can’t claim audiobooks are really beneficial. Even though you might assume all the content is fully recorded in your memory, there will be only a blurry outline of hours of an audiobook in the subsequent days, mostly because you didn’t have the opportunity to grab the stuff and apply them to your imagination. Don’t agree? Flick through your archive and see how much you remember.

A Moment to Contemplate

Multitasking is believed to be a key factor in accomplishing more and faster. Pertaining to this inseparable element of our trajectory to success, listening has the privilege to be aligned with different kinds of daily activities, and in this world brimmed with masses of information, it looks impossible to put that pair of Air Buds in the case. It’s a shame to fall behind your peers in constant content consumption. This is exactly where audiobooks step in and find a position prior to traditional books. It’s an impressive plus to audiobooks which makes them an awesome pick for today’s demands, right? Audiobooks are now many people’s go-to as they listen to them on their way to work or in the gym or while they’re cooking up their meal. But how about a different outlook? A different way to break down the case? Perhaps, it’d be the right moment for the question of purpose to meddle in and offer us an alternative perspective.

Sitting still can pave the way for the reader to hold up a filter for one’s intake of information. There’s no way we haven’t had those moments when we miss the clue and get lost while listening to the gush of words, especially if the materials are interconnected and one thing would usher in the next event and so on. This phenomenon also takes place while reading, as David Daniel, a professor of psychology at James Madison University suggests. We might turn into a reading machine and follow the words automatically as we are wandering in an entirely different world thinking about the wonderful place where we spent the last weekend or the comebacks we could have had for someone’s critical views. The difference is that taking the comprehensive reading up from a few lines above is much easier than going back for God knows how long in the case of an audiobook. And, speaking truthfully, do we have a full, or even up to par, understanding of a book while our eyes are fixed on the treadmill’s monitor or on three different pans bearing sizzling stuff?


Audiobooks work to anyone’s advantage as they’re always available (since we always can listen), while reading requires a rather static condition with more comfort. Still, that seems to be the price we need to pay for the exclusive experience and comprehension we’d receive from reading a book. It’d be foolish to bear a negative attitude towards modern advancements and newer approaches, but it’s on no occasion the wisest option to condemn and outmode the older ones.


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