Is listening to an audio book considered “reading?”
I know, obviously, it’s not considered reading, because reading uses the eyes, and audio books uses the ears, but what I mean is, if I listened to an audio book, can I say that I’ve “read” that novel? Is listening to a book the same as reading it? And if not, what do you say when someone asks “have you read so-and-so book?” “Oh, no, I haven’t but I’ve listened to it….” Does that count?
I’ve never been an audio book kind of person, but recently,to make good use of a recent gift, I tried listening to one again. The very first audiobook I tried listening to was Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, about 10 years ago. I uploaded it on my iPod to listen to while at the gym. Maybe it was the setting, or maybe it was because I was doing exercises while listening to it, but, I found it very hard to concentrate and I decided that it wasn’t really my thing.
I didn’t try to listen to another one again until 3 days ago when I stumbled on Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, narrated by Colin Firth. On a whim, I googled “best audio books,” and somewhere in the search results were posts praising Colin Firth’s performance as the narrator of the The End of the Affair. I had seen the movie with Ralph Fiennes, and I liked Colin Firth, so I thought, what the heck, now’s a good time as any to see whether or not I really do dislike audio books.
Before the book began I remembered that though I liked Colin Firth a lot, I didn’t particularly like the tone of his voice. I thought it was a bit nasal and pinched. As he started to speak, I found myself unable to concentrate, paying more attention to his breathing sounds than to the story itself. It was difficult to concentrate on the story at first, but after about 10 minutes of listening, I found it easier to follow what was going on. Colin Firth changes his pitch and inflections a bit when he’s speaking as different characters in the book, and his reading is neither too fast nor too slow – just right, probably, but then again I really have nothing to compare it to.
While listening to the book, I realize that I can’t do anything else. I have to be very still, concentrating on the narrator’s voice, and if I so much as look around, I lose my concentration. Maybe having a celebrity narrator only adds to the distraction, or maybe having already seen the film I think that I don’t have to pay that much attention to it. Whatever the reason, it’s still a bit of an effort for me to follow the story, and more than once I had to listen to a segment more than once to fully comprehend what was going on.
Maybe if I keep at it, I’ll get better at listening and paying attention. So far I have The End of the Affair by Graham Greene and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (yes, that book again). I’d like to try more, so suggestions are very welcome. What are your favorite audiobooks?