Does listening to an audiobook provide the same intellectual advantages or rewards as actually reading the book?


INteresting Reddit Discussion... Does listening to an audiobook provide the same intellectual advantages or rewards as actually reading the book?

One comment points to this:
“The way this is usually interpreted is that once you are good at decoding letters into sound, which most of us are by the time we’re in 5th or 6th grade, the comprehension is the same whether it’s spoken or written,” explained University of Virginia psychology professor Dan Willingham


It is definitely not the same experience. I've found that while listening to a book I am less engaged with following closely. With audio, I let the words glide by. Then if I feel I've missed something, rather than being able to easily turn back to a page or section to clarify a detail or relationship, it's hard to find the part of the text I'm looking for and I end up having to listen to parts I don't necessarily want to. Plus a great deal depends on the narrator/actor. A bad one can really ruin a book. On the other hand, hearing the author read his/her own work adds something special.

I used to listen to lots of audiobooks when I worked in a public library as they were free for us!
But the problem was I'd tend to listen to them at night and so might fall asleep. Brilliant things to listen to but do it when you are occupied doing something else like a craft, the ironing etc :P

From my experience in a library for the blind and disabled:
1. Listening to a book is different from reading a book. Not better or worse, but different. As I have a choice as to format, I do find there is a difference in the books I listen to as opposed to read. For example, non-fiction for pleasure works very well for listening.

2. Listening is a learned skill. You didn't read fluently the first time you sat down with a book. Why would you expect to listen fluently without practice? Actually, without lots of practice, just as was true when you learned to read.

3. Being able to speed up the playback is important. I want to be able to "speed read" in either format.

4. For me, the acting components of commercial audio books are distracting and detract from the reading experience. If I want a play, I go to the theater. When I listen to a book, I want a narrator who doesn't feel the need to take over the book. And music in a recorded book is just wrong.


I've been a voracious reader my whole life. I read quickly and retain most of what I read. I do not listen quickly at all. Listening and understanding are so much more difficult for me than reading and understanding. I've noticed that I seem to be in a very small minority and most people are the other way.

School was difficult for me as so many classes were setup with lectures as the focal point. I don't want a lecture, let me read the material! I will ask questions if i dont get it. Listening to someone read is so slow! It is so hard to concentrate that long on something that should take seconds to comprehend. If I've read the handout, book, material or what have you why must I sit through an hour of going over it word by word? I know what it says!

I think that perhaps reading and listening are the same for people that are not proficient readers. If you are a proficient reader, they are 2 very different animals!

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