Notes to self

Not gold alone brought us hither

Dec 27, 2008

Audio books

The pleasure of reading — nothing can beat that. The comparison is with the alternative, i.e. listening, which is gaining popularity. I have been listening to podcasts for a while now and I do enjoy the experience. However, when it comes to listing to audio books, thats quite a different thing. After trying to listen to an audio book, I gave up after the first two chapters, and after that trial I did not try doing that again. Here are some of the reasons why I find the idea of listening to audio books obnoxious:

  1. Its much easier to say “yeah, I’ve read that book” than “yeah, I have listened to that book”
  2. Until I change my mind, I think books are supposed to be read, not listened to, unless you are a toddler and are yet to learn how to read
  3. When I reach a point in the book where the author just finished making a point, I like to pause and chew on it. That’s the pleasure of reading and is impossible to experience when you are listening to an audio book.
  4. A well written book has annotations, footnotes, images, sketches interwoven into the narrative, which cannot be captured in the audio book.
  5. The all important “Appendix” gives you pointers to the articles, books and other sources that the author got her references from, and you will just skip that part in the audio book. Do audio books even have an Appendix?
  6. You can change your pace as you read based on how heavy the material is, which cannot be controlled in an audio book. The audio just goes at one pace which the reader chose to pick and you are stuck with that pace, while you can read at your own pace.
  7. You can highlight or mark the text in a book and reference it later. You can even add your own notes in the book and that enhances the value of the book.
  8. When I am reading a book, I am engaged in an activity which my brain associates with something creative. But when I am listening to the audio, I am actually doing nothing. My eyes see something which is not a book and creates distractions. Also, my hands are free to start fiddling with whatever is accessible and thats another distraction. Soon, I reach a point where I am not paying any attention to the audio which is streaming through the ear phones and there ends my curiosity about the book.
  9. Last but not the least, I tend to fall asleep when listening to the audio book.

Probably, this is the reason why my friend did not enjoy Malcom Gladwell’s new book — Outliers, but I liked it a lot. He listened to the audio book, while I read it. I had enough time to pause and think about things while he had to keep up with the audio, which would have prevented him from taking the time to soak in the good words author had to offer in the book.