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    • Yesterday The New York Times had an article from a leading reading researcher & professor of psychology, taking on the debate of whether audiobooks are cheating. 90% of my books are consumed via audio — while I run, bike, drive, do chores — and I have always wondered, am I sacrificing comprehension?

      When I run and bike, I feel fully engrossed in the book with no distractions because I can't check my texts, so it feels like my comprehension is high. And when listening to a book like Born a Crime from Trevor Noah, we get to hear him perform his accents so it feels more real than the print version.

      Am I rationalizing? Should I get the really important books in print?

    • Very interesting @Chris, I've always been a reader and I haven't yet moved to audio books. When I am outside - whether I am exercising or wandering with my camera - I like to listen to (and focus on) the things around me.

      I suspect at some point I will try an audio book, but for now I'm quite happy with reading rather than listening.

    • I get through a lot of books doing this. I buy around 20 from Audible per year, however I notice I only listen to about half to completion.

      My personal belief is listening to audiobooks is an acquired skill and comprehension goes up with practice. You don’t really know how good books are until you get a few chapters in.

      I’m on my second listen of Wired for Story. It’s incredible.

    • I think I might be more inclined to listen to a book if I am forced to get my traveling exercise on a treadmill as opposed to on streets and trails. I can't stay on a treadmill unless I have a distraction of some sort - usually NPR. I can walk outside for much longer without any distraction other than the great outdoors.

      I guess I should try it!

    • I have to admit I enjoy much more listening to music when outside for daily walks, but will start trying audio books, because I have been considering it for a long time. I also go out to relax my brain and eyes from the permanent computer screen activity and so music seems more relaxing than listening to some material. But I think to me, the audiobook is like a theatrical performance, thus allot more rich in expression than written word. It is providing not just words, but nuances that create the overall impression of being immersed in the "lecture" and could even have music too to set the mood.

      But as I think about it, realize written word leaves a lot more to reader's imagination, depending how the writer intended it, and his skill, and that's not at all a bad thing in my opinion. Of course it also depends on the type of material, whether it's a sterile scientific piece or something captivating such as a life tale. I just quick searched and found this, it reminds me of when I was a child and used to listen to stories told by voices coming from a tiny screechy loudspeaker hanging on a wall.

    • As a lifelong reader, I still prefer print for acquiring knowlege. Most of us can read silently quite a bit faster than we read (or listen) 'out loud'. And pausing to absorb a new concept or re-read a complicated passage is instinctive. Back in pre-internet days I ran across an article that suggested that 80% of what we learn is picked up visually and only 20% is acquired aurally. If you've ever fallen asleep in class, or read ahead in the textbook while the teacher droned on, you get the idea.

      That said, we really enjoy audio books while driving. Born a Crime was a hightlight of last summer's trip across the great plains in our camper van. We enjoy historical fiction, biographies, novels, etc. But I pause the narration in town or in heavy traffic, as I miss too much of the plot while concentrating on survival and have to backtrack. Once I tried listening to an audio book on the couch in front of the fireplace while resting my eyes from too much AdvRider screen time, but fell asleep. Had the same experience with print media too . . .

      So much to learn; so little time!

    • My wife was told she had hearing loss. I was believing her.she began listening to audio books and in one day her sharpening on her words improved. Apparently part of hearing is listening and audiobooks podcasts and the like Improve this.

      Rather than buy hearing aids we will approach it this way as it seems to be working.

      Question everything. The brain is remarkable!

    • The little features Apple and Audible have been adding to the app makes all the diff for me. I typically listen to the books at 1.25x speed or even 1.5x if the narrator is slow. There have been a few where I went .75x. I can't listen to the TWiT podcast, which I like, without it being 1.5x. Not enough patience.

      The fact that it works on the watch now and you don't need a phone makes a diff for me. It's easy to pause or skip back. I wish Siri would let you voice command that, but not yet.

    • Audiobooks put me to sleep. This surprised me because I love having the radio in in the background. However, radio is paced very differently.

      On a related note: I will borrow ebooks that are light reading (some fiction), but I can’t grasp an ebook like I can a hard copy (pun intended). So I have discovered I have a ”hierarchy of comprehension” that relates to different forms of media. :)

    • the narrator has to be amazing for me or related to the subject enough.

      Some folks writing has to be in their voice or your inner version of their voice when visually read. David Sedaris for example or Anthony Bourdain.

      Will have to see if their is a audio version of the Letters of Van Gogh. I have the complete set and it is a tough read, an audio book could speed that up for me with the right person reading it. Hmmm, who would be the best narrator?

      Come on AI, one of these days we should be able to pick who we want to read us the book! Imagine Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas narrated by Billy Connolly, that would be wonderful!

      If you had enough speech recorded of family they could read to you.

    • I read around 60 books a year (it'll be 70+ this year), mostly fiction, some history, a dash of other things. About half of those are audio books these days. They don't replace reading for me, but supplement it. I can listen to audio at times when I can't read. This happens most successfully when I'm doing the dishes, gardening, or when working in CAD at work if the work is purely spatial. Long highway drives also work for me, but not so much for city driving, in which case I prefer the radio anyway. I also listen when walking to work in the winter, sometimes with mixed success, or when I wake up at 5:00am but am not ready to actually get up - I can listen with good focus for an hour or more.

      I've definitely improved since I started.

      In a few cases I've felt the audio experience probably enhanced my enjoyment of the book. One of these was Josh Mallerman's Bird Box (soon to be on Netflix, if you're wondering why it sounds familiar). The story is told as a first person narrative, and having someone read that to your ears sounds personal and intimate. That story is a horror/thriller in which characters must go about blindfolded, and it turns out that audio does wonders for this because you can read with your eyes closed, imagining what the character does as she describes sounds and tactile experiences.

      Some performers can really enhance the experience, too. The Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell, for example, is really wonderfully narrated - no, performed - so it's more like listening to an audio play.

      Where I really prefer a book is when the writing has depth, or information I want to remember. I just listened to Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces and now definitely want to read it. This is because the book is so full of ideas that I want to keep notes and excerpts - I can't do that in most cases when I'm listening. It's also rather dense in places, and reading helps in comprehension, and it's easier to back up a paragraph to read it again. Another example would be Moby Dick - I can't imagine getting as much out of that listening as I do reading.

      Sometimes, when the narrator just doesn't have the same perspective on a book that you would, the audio format can interfere with your enjoyment. Luckily with Audible you can return books that didn't work out for you.