I have a very chequered history with audiobooks. I’ve tried numerous times over the years to listen to audiobooks but I’ve never found myself truly engaging with the experience.
I know that they have their place especially for people with disabilities e.g. sight issues, issues arising with inability to hold a book due to arthritis, mental health issues etc. etc. and in many instances they are a wonderful resource for people who could not otherwise read a physical- or e-book.
So please do not think for one second that I don’t view them as a valid form of reading. It is utterly ableist to disregard the value of audiobooks and how important they are for chronically ill and/or disabled people. And also for healthy people who just get such an enjoyment from them as an art form.
My Experience with Audiobooks
But my issue with them stems from the lack of personal connection that I as a reader make (or at least hope to make!) with my reads.
I don’t like how it is the narrator who gets to decide where to place emphasis in a sentence, paragraph etc. and how the narrator gets to create accents for each of the characters with dialogue, how through their narrating choices they get to create this layer of character that otherwise I would be weaving in my own head as I quietly read.
To me personally, audiobooks are a more passive style of reading.
Frequently I love to pause and reread sentences. I can recall countless occasions that passages have moved me to tears and I just end up sitting their quietly, hugging the book to my chest and reflecting on the sentences I have just read. I love to highlight paragraphs, I love to write my own thoughts and feelings into a book… I have many books with scribbled thoughts and half-thoughts that I think enhance any future reread of the book.
However, with an audiobook I do not do any of these things and therefore feel more dispassionately about the book. For sure I have enjoyed audiobooks in the past, but this enjoyment is more akin to the way I enjoy a TV show or film.
There is just something so special, unique really, about the act of quietly reading words and interpreting them for ourselves without any outside influence . I guess to me reading is a deeply personal and private experience. It is a direct relationship between reader and writer and I just don’t really enjoy anyone else watering down that connection.
What are everyone else’s opinions?
Am I off out on my desert island all alone or is this something that other people feel too? Let me know by commenting below!
As for me I’m spending the rest of the day listening to ‘Wolf Hall’ …. yup, after all that I am actually listening to an audiobook right now lol! As a spoonie I frequently get too tired to actively read and on those occasions I take great comfort in the simple pleasure of having someone read to me.
Happy reading…or listening!