When I really like a book that I started reading but have chores to complete, I occasionally switch to the audiobook. Yet at the back of my mind, I always have this nagging thought if I can truly say that I read that book when I’m done listening to the audiobook.
a (1) : to receive or take in the sense of (as letters or symbols) especially by sight or touch (2) : to study the movements of (as lips) with mental formulation of the communication expressed (3) : to utter aloud the printed or written words of <read them a story>
b : to learn from what one has seen or found in writing or printing
c : to deliver aloud by or as if by reading; specifically : to utter interpretively
d (1) : to become acquainted with or look over the contents of (as a book) (2) : to make a study of <read law> (3) : to read the works of
e : to check (as copy or proof) for errors
f (1) : to receive and understand (a voice message) by radio (2) : understand, comprehend
Looking at a(1) and c, I’d have to say the narrator did the reading which was recorded. Basically one would have to pick up the printed book and look the words themselves, going by b, d and (unrelatedly) e. But wait! We can’t yet dismiss listening as not reading, for there still is f. This last one does give an indication that listening should be counted as reading.
An important aspect of reading is comprehension. One has to make sense of the words and interpret the meaning. When it comes to listening to audiobooks, I find that in fact, greater mental capacity is required to understand what is going on. Perhaps that is because I’m not all that well practiced anymore in listening to audiobooks. I used to listen a lot to stories on cassette tapes when I was still a kid but somehow I didn’t sustain that practice anymore in my teens. It’s only over the past year that I have actively looked to audiobooks again.
The only audiobooks I did listen to when I was in my (very late) teens was the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer because I wanted to know what all the hype was about. During that time I was in the midst of revamping my room, so that gave me something to distract me from the boring task. It’s a good thing too because that way I didn’t need to read the printed books. I definitely would’ve detested them even more because I would’ve felt that I could’ve used my time better. I did not like Twilight much, you see. But I had friends who did, so there.
In any case, back then I didn’t really consider these audiobooks as read per se. I listened to the books because I didn’t want to be seen with the hardcopies in hand. I could listen to the rest while on the bus, plugged in with my iPod. Plus, I got them from the library, so that was a huge plus. I was not about to shell out extra money for books that I didn’t want to read.
Since then my outlook has shifted. I still listen to books I don’t prioritise for reading but I also listen to books I just refuse to put down. When it comes to the latter, I tend to switch between the aural and visual mediums. At the end, I am satisfied that I have read whichever book. I suppose I could extend that to the former but then I’d compare my listening level more to skimming a book, so I’m still uncertain about whether to count that as reading.