Is Reading Better Than Listening?

Reading is a difficult task. Particularly in the 21st century, reading a book seems almost archaic compared to the fascinating, immersive, worlds created by Hollywood. How can we justify spending months reading the epic series Game of Thrones when we could just binge watch it over the weekend like everybody else? Who even has the time to read anyway?

Technology gives, and technology takes away. So, even though our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and our ability to focus on one thing at a time is a long forgotten art, books are still relevant and important. The answer is: the audiobook.                                                      Image courtesy of

If you are with me so far, the next question is: is listening to an audiobook considered reading? Honestly, the answer is no. Reading is the act of interpreting text with your eyes, not listening to information with your ears. However, what is more important than looking at words with your eyes is actually getting the information into your mind.

I know this is blasphemy to the bibliophiles out there, but hear me out. The most important part of reading is learning the material presented by an author. Absorbing the information and communicating with the writer is the true essence of reading. The actual act of reading has nothing to do with the information received. At the core of every book is a message, the way in which you receive that message should not matter.

Audiobooks are a great way to “read” a book without having to strain your eyes for 2 hours a day. Especially if you are a busy person, audiobooks can fill the gaps when you are commuting, exercising, or spending time with somebody you don’t like. However their is evidence that listening to a book makes the mind less open to new ideas than reading does

Listening to an audiobook can cause the mind and eyes to wander. If the listener is not fully engaged in the act of absorbing knowledge, then the whole attempt could be a waste of time. It may be true that at the end of the day, shutting down everything around you, relaxing your body, and reading a book may be the best way to learn. But, should we allow the valuable knowledge hiddin in books be kept a secret just because an audio book is not as mind blowing as a book can be? I think not. 

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