Audio Books

I’ve been watching a lot of BookTube (YouTubers who talk about books) recently, which has been getting me inspired to read more and thinking about different aspects of bookishness (it should be a word).

One thing that I see many readers “read” is audio books. I have no problem with the concept of audio books. I do believe they “count” as reading and have no snobbery over “reading” only being in a certain way.

But… I don’t like audio books. I can’t do them.

There are two main reasons that I can think of for my dislike for audio books.

1. I’m autistic.
This doesn’t mean that all autistic people can’t stand audio books. We’re all different. Some autistic people can’t concentrate on reading text and therefore audio is much better. Some autistic people can only read non-fiction and don’t understand novels. We’re all different. But for me, I’ve worked out that I process auditory information with more difficulty than visual information.

I used to think I didn’t think visually because I don’t see pictures in my mind but then it was explained to me that visual includes text and that makes complete sense to me. If I’m asked to do something, I need it in writing or I’ll get it wrong (unless it’s something simple, but even then I might forget!) I always preferred communication via email when I worked, because it made more sense to have things to look back on. Now I know why.

So audio books are fairly useless to me because my mind wanders and I can’t concentrate on the words being said. Films and television don’t have this, because there is a visual element as well as the audio. But I also struggled with free online courses when I tried them because they seem to be video based and I needed transcripts to skim through too.

Which leads me to…

2. It’s so slow.
Continuing with online learning, I got so frustrated with video based learning because you can’t skim it. For lessons, if I already know something I find it very boring. And then get distracted, and lose interest… School was not great for me, and I’m even more impatient as an adult! But you have to listen to every second of a video or audio in case you miss something new or important, but a 30 minute video might only include 5 minutes of relevant information, so I can skim through text and pick out what I need, and concentrate where I need to.

For novels, that isn’t relevant because I want to read everything and not skim (unless I’m bored and I want to know if it’s worth continuing or I should just stop) but again audio is so s-l-o-w. I’m a reasonably fast reader. I’m not a speed reader but I read something like 60-100 pages per hour of an average novel (depending on text and page size), although I’m much slower with non-fiction.

So a 300 page novel will probably take me about 4 hours to read. So (looks for a book that might suit…) take Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. Amazon says it’s 292 pages. I don’t know how long it actually took me to read but it was an easy read so let’s be generous and say 4 hours. The audio book is 7 hours and 10 minutes long. Seven hours for a short book! I’ve just looked up a longer one, 503 pages but 14 hours! Eek! I know a lot of bookish types listen on twice speed but that’s unlikely to work for me.

I’d rather read two novels than listen to one in the same amount of time.

So, that’s why I don’t do audio books. I know they’re vital for many people, and I know that some are brilliantly narrated, and some have full cast versions which seem like they’d be awesome. But they’re not for me.

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