Today, I am calling those people out. Unfortunately, I have met some of these people and they work in libraries and help leisure readers. I have even talked to book discussion leaders who forbid their participants to listen to the book. Recently. Seriously.
To these people I say, “YOU ARE WRONG AND STUPID.” There is no middle ground here. I cannot and will not apologize for this opinion.
One of my very first posts on this blog [9 yrs ago] ever was an article in the New York Times in August of 2007 which questioned “Are Audio Books Cheating?” I have had strong opinions on this topic for a long time, and it saddens me that I still have to fight this fight. [Click here for everything I have tagged audio books, including reviews.]
...Or, you can use some of these more polite ways to counter this uneducated opinion.
First read the post from No Shelf Required entitled “Are you a “reader” when listening to an audiobook? Yes of course.” Not only are there links to documents that support the educational and literacy benefits of listening to audiobooks, but they are also announcing their increased audiobook content. Yay, more places for audiobook reviews.
Second, contemplate this point from that same article:
"And please think back to when you read the book The Reader (or watched the movie with Kate Winslet). Did you consider that perhaps it’s not only about the Holocaust and coming to terms with the past? Wasn’t it also about a woman who couldn’t read but insisted that the man she was having an affair with read to her out loud? Wasn’t she THE READER even though she wasn’t the one reading?"That is a succinct, moving, and accurate argument.
Third, look up the definition of “reading." Reading is not solely defined by reading words on the page of a book. It never was before and it certainly isn’t now. The definition supports me in this statement. “Reading” is the activity of interpreting the world around you.
When it comes to interpreting stories specifically though, the word is used for watching a play, listening to music, reading graphic novels, the newspaper, etc... At libraries we also teach Internet literacy-- how to read the information we find on the web. All of this is reading.
I could go on forever ranting about the problems with saying that “reading” only counts when you sit down and look at a physical book, but that is a side rant off the topic of today’s call to action. Let’s get back to audio books, this is their special month.
As an experienced audiobook reader I can honestly tell you that I experience the story in the same way whether I read the page or listen. For me, some books are better if someone reads it to me, and still others I would never have gotten through on paper, but I can’t imagine my life without having “read” them. Seveneves is the most recent example of that last point.
Experiencing a story is reading it. How you get the story into your brain is your choice. But if you get it in there, you have read it. Simple as that.
So get out there and start finding people a story-- whether it is real of fiction. This is what we do. But don’t ever tell them there is only one correct way to read.