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  • Sage Allaway

Do you "Read" Audiobooks? An Addition to the Terrible Debate


I love reading audiobooks. Whether I'm in the car spending a nice ride with a nice story, or falling asleep to the sound of a Shakespearean comedy, I find some of the best moments are spent listening to something found in my Audible library. Some of my favorite books, I discovered through audiobook, such as Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, Scott Westerfield's Leviathan, and Jennifer A. Nielsen's The False Prince.


But there are aspects of audiobooks that appear a little less magical, for example, conversations about them.


"You don't read an audiobook!" My classmate, Brendan, informed me. "Do you say you've read a movie? No! So you can't say you've read an audiobook!"


Conversations like mine and Brendan's are the reasons I must address this harsh issue to the world. It's a conversation I've participated in far too often. Whenever stating that I've read a book through the form of listening, I expect the reaction of correction. The idea that reading is something that can only be accomplished through a paper book.


I established a poll within my writing group, and within thirty minutes found that eleven out of thirteen people agreed that it was it is alright to say that "you've read an audiobook." I did receive two disagreements, stating that it is proper to say "listened" instead of "read." To be honest, I was joyful to see that my fellow writers agreed with the truthful side of the argument.


Brendan argued that since one cannot read a movie, they cannot read an audiobook. However, audiobooks are books, while movies are not.


The main reason why I stand firm in my belief is the meaning of the word read. It comes from old English raedon, and means "to advise; counsel; discuss; deliberate." Taking read from its root, it is definitely possible to say that one can read an audiobook.


Read, as well, is modernly approached differently.

to receive or take in the sense of (letters, symbols, etc.) especially by sight or touch. - Merriam Webster's Dictionary

This is used in the argument against my point. However, I still believe that read is not specifically used in terms of letters and symbols. Here are several examples of things you can read that are not letters or symbols.

  • Expressions

  • Lips

  • Maps

When I finish audiobooks, I will easily add them to my Books I've Read page in my bullet journal, or add the book on Goodreads. I, of course, would have still experienced the book entirely and would be able to have counted it as read. For that, t is entirely alright to use the term read in the case of an audiobook.

- - -

Do you need an audiobook to read? I'm giving away an audiobook CD of The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, narrated by Liam Neeson and full with soundtrack-like music throughout the whole book. It's a classic, the origin of a favorite Christmas movie of the same name, and a magical 17 minutes.


The giveaway not only includes The Polar Express, but a copy of Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee - another beloved Children's book - and a coping kit for the difficult times in life full of things like colored markers, chocolate, and encouraging verses.

Join the giveaway here.


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