professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Do you hear what I hear?

A recent Washington Post column was entitled "Is listening to a book cheating?" The final two paragraphs sum it up nicely:

"Listening to an audiobook might be considered cheating if the act of decoding were the point; audio books allow you to seem to have decoded without doing so. But if appreciating the language and the story is the point, it’s not. Comparing audio books to cheating is like meeting a friend at Disneyland and saying: “You took a bus here? I drove myself, you big cheater.”

The point is getting to and enjoying the destination. The point is not how you traveled."

I offer my student the option of listening to books for the literature courses or reading them in e-format as well as in traditional print. Those who read this blog know how much I love audiobooks. So, you might be a tad surprised when I insert a "but" here. No, I am not suggesting that listening is cheating. However, if I am serving on a book selection committee, listening to the audiobook is cheating, and here is why. A terrific audio can elevate a book. Likewise, a terrible audio can ruin a perfectly good book. Think of it from this point of view. If I am on an audiobook selection committee, would it be fine for me to read the print book instead of listening to the audio? Of course not.

What I would love to do is to have someone read a book while I read with my ears (unabridged so we are basically reading the same text) and then compare our reactions and responses. I want to see if we pick up on the same things, highlight the same passages. I think there will be differences. I am aware that when I read a book with my ears that I have already read with my eyes, I notice different words, phrases, passages. I am not sure if this is or is not different from what might happen with a rereading of the text.

There is still much to explore in the world of audio. If you have not visited these sites, I hope you will click to see the wealth that reading with our ears can bring.
Tags: audiobooks

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