Wednesday, 11 June 2014

If you listened to a book, did you read it?

As a traditionalist, I like to see a book, feel the smooth pages between my fingers, smell the musty scent of age. I like to re-read passages I've loved and make notes in the margins for future reference. It will be a very sad day when it becomes too expensive to manufacture paperbacks. It saddens me to my core that my children and future grandchildren may find themselves in a world where paperbacks no longer exist.

However, I cannot deny the convenience of the eReader.

That feeling of dread when you come to the last page of a fantastic novel and there is still another 45 minutes left of the bus ride and you may just have to talk to the person sitting next to you- eeeep!

You want to start a new book that very second but to have to wait until you get home or get to the bookstore to buy it. Just the mere thought of spending an entire day without a book to read has you breaking out into a cold sweat and the shakes.

With the creation of the ebook, you can have any book, anywhere and not need a suitcase and bionic strength to lug them around.

 But now there is an even more convenient way of discovering books; the audibook.

 I use all 3 methods to absorb books as fast as is humanly possible, but use each in a different way.

 For books and authors I can't live without, it's paperback all the way. I want to read each and every word, hear the voices (the way I hear them in my head) feel the paper, look at the cover in vivid colour, re-read the blurb as I continue on the journey. I want to sit in bed with a cup of coffee and my book with the bedside lamp on (not bright light, it ruins the mood) and absorb every sentence into my soul.

For most other books I use my Kindle. It doesn't give you the luxury of smelling the crisp cover or dog-earring the corners, but you can still read every word but with the convenience of one, lightweight device.

 Then, I have on occasion used that other method, the one that I can't bring myself to admit that I use, Audible. Where a narrator reads out a book, and you listen to it.

So, listening to a narrated novel and reading. They are the same thing- or are they?

A poor narrator can destroy a book. The inflection may feel wrong, the dialogue not as I would hear it in my head. The accent might not fit with how I perceive the characters or the setting and again, the book is ruined for me.

Audibooks are very convenient, that point is not in question here. What's not to love about being able to listen to a book while doing other jobs? Housework, driving, eating, etc etc BUT can you truly digest a book, understand it's meaning and depth while rushing around with the vacuum in one hand and a chux in the other.

I have, on occasion, listened to a book in the car. This did not prove to be the most intelligent thing I've ever done. I'm either so engrossed in the book that I forget red means stop, or I'm concentrating on driving I miss half of what has been read out loud and find myself listening to the same 30 seconds over and over.

So, if you listen to a book are you reading?

Or is it cheating???

When someone tells you, they listened to a book, do you instantly feel that they are a traitor and should be banished to some alternate universe? Or do they get just as much out of the book as you would having read each sentence with as much love as a new kitty.

I must confess, being the purist that I am, that I feel like it is.  I know myself I don't get as much out of the book as if I had read the words on a page and only use this method if I need to read something quickly and it's not a book that requires a lot of deep thought.

I love to read but being a busy, working mother of two young girls, my reading time is all but sucked up by nappies, lunches, finding soft toys, retrieving lego from underneath the lounge, ABC 4 Kids, cold cups of Nespresso and housework. So to be able to listen to a book while I get work done should be nothing but awesome.

But can I bring myself to call it 'reading'? Well, clap me in irons and throw me in the stocks, because I say no.