Thursday, August 2, 2007

Are you cheating?

People often ask me (I love how I am the arbiter of taste, sort of like a modern day Sir Philip Sidney - my friend Katie used to pose questions beginning, "Do you think it's appropriate...?") whether it's cheating if you listen to the audio book instead of physically reading the book, and today the New York Times addressed the issue. Does this also depend on whether you are reading the book as an assignment or for your book group vs. for yourself? It seems to be the other members of the book groups who are resentful that they are "grinding away" while others are lightheartedly listening. Yet if the reading is a chore (for them or you), why do it at all? While surely it is the exposure to the author's language and story that is essential, not whether you read or listen to it, I do admit I have a faint feeling that listening to an audio version is the easy way out.



What do you think?

4 comments:

Melissa said...

I think some books are better suited for audio than others--I get different things out of the Harry Potter audio than the text, but I kinda regret listening to the audio of Time Traveler's Wife rather than reading it (and intend to one day go back and read it). I don't think it's cheating--but it should be acknowledged that it can be a very different experience. But audio books are the only way to do a solo road trip!

Melody said...

For me, I find that it's often difficult to listen to an audiobook before I've read the physical book, particularly if it's detailed and I'm driving while listening. But for books I love (like The Lord of the Rings, which is masterfully narrated (and sung!) by Rob Inglis), I find that the audiobook helps me grasp the depths and nuances I'd otherwise miss. I don't think listening is cheating, not at all. Another big plus for me is that audiobooks let me "read" in places that regular books can't go.

Ellen said...

Like most, I have very little free time. However, I do have 2 hours a day that I spend in my car rotting my brain away on the highways around NYC. If I can do something that causes me to retain precious brain cells, I'm all for it. I find audio books to be a good companion on my miserable commute. If you're listening and comprehending, that's one thing. If it's essentially white noise in the background, and you claim that by having it on it's like reading by osmosis, no, that's definitely cheating. Since drive time is often the only way I can hit the pages, so to speak, I take it and in no way consider it cheating.

CLM said...

Driving to and from Cape Cod last week, I tried an audio book by an author I have enjoyed in the past, Ship of Brides by JoJo Moyes. While I enjoyed it (am about 3/4 through), I found it frustrating not to be able to slow down and reread passages when necessary. Also, I kept losing my place when I turned it off momentarily, such as when I was getting gas. When I got back to my computer, I immediately checked to see if my library system had a copy of the book but oddly it owns only the audio version. I do agree that it made the trip go faster, and I am sure I will get better at switching CDs while driving. I guess the proof that I was indeed captivated is that I brought the last few CDs inside with me and listened to one last night instead of watching the news.

Oh, I very foolishly just looked it up on Amazon.uk to see if the book is still in print and accidentally read some spoilers! Gnashing of teeth...