Audiobooks: Reading or Cheating?

After watching Farrah’s vlog post on her October Favorites where she raved about audiobooks, I seriously wanted to give audiobooks another chance. As much as I had trouble listening to audiobooks, I wanted to see if I could really do it.

My problem with audiobooks is that I have a hard time concentrating on them. As much as I want to listen to the story, I have a tendency of blocking out the sound. I can’t help it. I’m not an auditory learner. I prefer reading to listening. Before I challenged myself to listening to a full-length audiobook, my iPod had been lying around with the battery dead for over a month…

But I gave it a shot. I went through my New York Public Library. After hours and hours of frustration because I couldn’t find an audiobook that was compatible to download to my Mac, I finally decided on what to listen to: Kathy Reich’s Virals. It’s been on my to-read for a long time but I hadn’t gotten around to getting a copy yet.

I’m almost done listening to the audio and I’m really, really enjoying it. But I’m still faced with a dilemma: does this count as reading?

I’ve read a bunch of debates on audiobooks on various blogs, but I still can’t get over my internal battle. I’m leaning towards counting audiobooks the same as reading a book, but I feel like such a cheater. Even if I’m getting the same story, I didn’t read it – I listened to it. Virals is on my currently reading shelf on GoodReads but there’s still maybe 20% of me that makes me want to say NO YOU DIDN’T READ THAT, YOU LIAR!!!

Sigh. What do you guys think?

… And furthermore, I have a hard time deciding on whether or not I should read a book or listen to the audio. There are some books that I have been dying to read such as Holly Black’s White Cat. I got a free download of the audiobook through the publisher, but I’ve been debating whether or not I should read it or listen to it. It’s one of those books that I was really excited to get my hands on, and I’ve been waiting for the right time to pick it up… But on the other hand, I heard that the audiobook is fantastic. I’m torn! Reading  for me is a much pleasurable experience. But on the other hand, I would love to listen to well done audiobooks… I probably never got into them to begin with because the ones I attempted weren’t very good.

So… to read or to listen? Another dilemma.

All in all, I have figured out that I can listen to audiobooks and I can actually get really into them as well. I don’t think I will ever pay for an audiobook when my library provides them for free, but I will definitely check more out in the future.

What audiobooks can you recommend to me?


  1. Honestly I have never listened to an audio book. I get easily distracted and I am picky when it comes to voices, pronunciation of words and inflection. The only times I have listened to an audio book was an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (Alan Cumming!) and some leaked excerpts for the HP and Order of the Phoenix audio book before the book released. I felt so guilty listening to it I stopped after a sentence xD.

    I do want to listen to the Shiver and Linger audio books though because they have multiple readers so I think I would find that much more interesting.

    Also I think audio books count, its not like they are movies where a book is hacked up and compressed into two hours, you are hearing the book word for word and at times it probably takes you longer to listen to an audio book then it does to read it yourself. Audiobooks are also great for people with dyslexia who have a harder time reading words than the rest of us so I don’t think you should feel guilty for counting a book you listened to as read, you know the story and you can discuss it just as much as anyone else who’s read the printed words :).

    1. I used to get really bad headaches from trying to listen to audiobooks so that put me off for a while. Ah! Maybe I will check out to see if Behemoth has an audiobook too. I’d love to listen to it if Alan Cumming is narrating. :)

      I’ve listened to parts of the Shiver and Linger audios and I do like the narrator. They had a free download of it over the summer!

      Thanks for your input. You’re definitely right. They do take up a lot more time than actually reading the text. I remember listening to audiobooks back in middle school. They probably used audio to help the students who were more auditory learners…

  2. As someone who listens to audiobooks religiously, I say they count. Are people really saying it’s cheating?! I feel kind of offended! So, what? Just because I didn’t read it with my eyes doesn’t mean I didn’t get the same (if not more) out of it.

    IT COUNTS, DAMN IT! :P Great post!! :)

    (PS – I’m glad you’re enjoying your audiobook!! And YES!! White Cat is FANTASTIC!!)

    1. LOL. No, I haven’t heard someone actually say it’s cheating… that was more of my personal belief before I gave them a real chance.

      Okay, based on the comments on this post, I’ve been convinced to listen to White Cat.

    1. I think I’m definitely going to start using audio for books that I’m unsure about. That’s a great method of deciding what to pick up. :)

  3. White Cat was the first audiobook I tried to listen to! It’s really good and was pretty interesting but I never finished it. I always got distracted and blocked out the sound too.

    I think audiobooks count as reading too. I mean, well, you’re getting the same contents of the book so it must in some way be the same. I don’t really know, haha. I’ve finished only two audiobooks (and they were non-fiction) so I have pretty much no right to comment on this but while the experience is different, I think it’s still reading.

    I’ve had so many people recommend me the Harry Potter audiobooks read by Stephen Fry. I’m thinking about listening to them one day.

    1. I think I’m going to give White Cat a shot! I’m curious to hear how Jesse Eisenberg will sound on audio…

      Thanks for the input… I’m slowly changing my mind about audiobooks. What non-fiction did you listen to? I’m thinking about listening to Mary Roach’s STIFF. I’ve read her other non-fiction stuff before and she’s quite hilarious.

      Ah! Yes, I heard the Potter audios are fantastic. I can’t imagine how long they’ll be though!!! :P

  4. The thing is I’m not against audiobooks, but I can’t get into using them. Like you said, you’d rather read than listen to learn. I’m the same way. Listening to a book being read to me loses the effects I get from reading it.

    The only book I’ve heard on audio is Chris Moore’s FOOL. It has a very funny narrator that makes it entertaining. And yet, I still preferred reading the book than listening to it.

    I don’t know if I’d classify listening to audiobooks as reading. I think I’d still consider it cheating. I understand you might still be getting the same things out of a book by listening as you would by reading it, but at the same time, you’re still not physically reading it. Reading is reading. And I think hearing words being spoken in certain ways, or even pronounced certain ways, can alter how you think about different aspects of a book.

    1. Yep, I still feel that way… So I think I’ll reserve audiobooks for books I was unsure about in the first place.

      I’m kind of curious to know if there is a neurological difference between listening to an audiobook and reading a book… I would think so, but will the memory be stored differently in my brain? I wonder if my aural recollection of Virals will be sufficient when I eventually get to the sequel… Listening to the book probably did alter the way I remember it…..

  5. Like Jess, I listen to audiobooks religiously and they always count on my GR list! I love them and of course I don’t think it’s cheating ? Reading books is awesome, but listening to them is also great. To each their own, I guess!

    I do tend to listen books that I probably won’t make time to read. I did listen to White Cat because I didn’t like Black’s previous books, but I still wanted to give her writing a chance. I loved it! It was really great and I think that if you are not planning to read it soon, you should give the audiobook a try.

    Another good one to listen to was The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong if you haven’t read it :)

  6. I am a big audio book fan. My first audio book was The Book Thief. It was one of those books that I had heard about but never felt the need to read. I don’t think, before listening to it, I could have read it. I ended up loving it so much that I bought the book. I think audio books opened up a door to certain books that I am not sure about. True hearing the book is different from reading it but if you aren’t sure about a book it makes an awesome way to test it out. I consider listening to an audio book reading the book and I think goodreads does too.

    1. Oh! I loved the Book Thief. I actually picked that up in book form though. I think I would have to REALLY REALLY love a book to pick it up physically after listening to the audio. I don’t really have the time to reread so it would have to be a kickass audio.

  7. I can’t do audiobooks. At least, I haven’t found one that I can actually sit through yet. I think it might be easier to listen to one I’ve already read…? I don’t know. Regardless, I think they do count toward “reading.” You’re still invested in the story and characters and, while it’s not the same exact experience from traditional reading, you’re still taking it all in.

  8. As an audiobook fanatic, I think it’s not cheating. I can read a physical book MUCH faster than listening to it. And also, by listening, I’m forced to stop and smell the roses so to speak, to stop and really appreciate and savor the book because I’m not speeding through it. That’s just my take on it, ha ha.

    1. I think one of the main reasons why I was really frustrated with audio at first was the fact that it took so long to listen to one. I can also read a lot faster, but it is nice to slow down once in a while. :)

  9. I think people have the impression an audiobook is “shorter” than the reading the book that’s why the call it cheating. But it truly depends on the speaker, there are some audios out there that I could have finished a lot faster had I read them.

    What I like most about audio is that I can do OTHER (mindless) things while listening like exercising, laundry etc you know?

    IDK about “counting” as reading tho :/ I’m not sure what the point of counting is??

    1. Yeah, I think it really depends on who’s on the audio. I think I can tell now from the first few minutes if I’m going to like the audio or not. I can’t stand extremely slow readers. :P

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