When Hearing is Reading

Here’s a debate I’m curious about: do you think that listening to an audiobook (book on tape, CD, etc.) can be considered “reading” a book? Usually on long road trips, like the ones we have planned for upcoming holidays, my wife and I like to listen to audiobooks while we drive. I started doing this, skeptically, when my wife was my then girlfriend/fiancee and we lived about 4.5 hours apart. I would drive on the weekends and to keep myself awake and pass the time, I would listen to audiobooks.

When I say I “read” The Fellowship of the Ring, I actually listened to the unabridged version being read to me. I read the print versions of The Two Towers and The Return of the King, and I didn’t feel like I missed a step. So, the question remains; did I read it? What do you think?

2 replies on “When Hearing is Reading”

  1. I used to listen to audio books a lot when I was driving more for work. I haven’t been lately, but I do consider it reading…sort of.

    How about “consuming”? It’s more broad than reading, listening, tasting, or smelling – only two, possibly three, of which are appropriate for books.

    So…my answer is…you consumed the book.

  2. I think Sophorist has a good point. Reading a book is not the end – it is the means to the end. The end is the experience or knowledge or something of the sort. One doesn’t just read to see the words strung together, one reads to gain something. I think the experience or knowledge or whatever is gained the same in listening as in reading (at least for someone who is a good listener). The end result is the same – therefore it does not matter whether you read it or listened to it being read.

    As a point of interest the latter is actually the most ancient of the two.

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