Did I "read" an audio book?

This thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=449654
inspires me to start my first ever thread.

A lot of books are mentioned that, while I haven’t technically read them, I have listened to. Can I say I “read” them? Or do I always have to qualify my statement? This has come up many times when people ask me " have you read …?" and I stammer out some version of “well, I listened to it on tape” that sounds more like an apology than I intend.

I have a long commute and I discovered the audio book section at the library years ago, back when it was only books on tape. Over the years I have “read” a hundred or so books this way, some, many times over. While I probably miss some aspects of actual reading (being able to go back and reread, for example), I feel like I get a lot more out of the having a professional read it for me (they can pronounce the words properly , for example).

I do still actually still read books, BTW. Some books I just can’t get through the normal way, yet I love them on tape (Patrick O’brian). Others (any nonfiction really) I gotta do it old school.

So, any opinions?

I both read and listen and no longer make a distinction between the two. In fact, I usually don’t remember which I did (unless I can’t spell a place name, or, oddly, know how to pronounce it).

I briefly tried an audio book some time ago. It was difficult for me because listening is so much slower than reading. Did you have to make an effort to get used to it?

Re the OP, I’d say if you listened to an unabridged version it counts as having read.

Well, I’d say it depends on if it was abridged or not. In the thread we had on World War Z, people were talking about their favorite stories, and people who had listened to the (evidently very good but abridged) audiobook were all “What? That wasn’t in there.” I’d say then that you can’t necessarily say you experienced the whole thing. On the other hand, listening to an unabridged audiobook generally counts as reading it. It certainly does for our summer reading here at the library.

I dunno. I had a co-worker who would say: “I read that on tape” and it made me nuts. Listening isn’t reading. That was 18 years ago. Now I don’t guess it really matters. But if you do say you read one, please don’t say: I read that on tape.

I tried listening to audio books while working out and it did not work for me. It diminished my enjoyment.

I only touch unabridged. Imagine my horror when I got through one third of War and Peace only to find I had an abridged copy. The whole point was so could say I read it!

The audio book reader is a bit slower than just reading the book for yourself, so it takes some getting used to. Its really a whole different thing to me.

  1. You need to be doing something else that isn’t too distracting. Many people like them while driving, I had one friend to listened while painting.
  2. Has to be a good narrator. Some audio books just suck because the reader sucks, some are make great by the “voice acting”.

I think it depends on the context and what you’re trying to get across.

On the one hand, if the audiobook is unabridged, then you have certainly read the book as far as having received the content.

On the other hand, you really wouldn’t be able to talk about the experience of reading the book, because you haven’t, well, read it. Talking about how hard a book was to get through, for example, may not be relevant, or is relevant in a different way to someone who has listened to a book as opposed to someone who has read it.

I think aurally is a perfectly valid way of ‘reading’ a book, but some things may be lost on the listener, or things emphasized in a different way than an author intended, particularly if the author is someone who is focused on the craft of writing.

I imagine it’s a PITA to go back over a confusing or moving passage a few times while listening to an audiobook.

Tell 'em you ear-read it. Then try to look smug.

It’s called “rewind.” When I listen to an audio book I have to do it quite a bit, but usually it’s because I listen in the car and often more pressing matters than the book are at hand.

I used to “read” audiobooks. The thing I always found annoying was when the narrator tried to do the character voices. Especially when a male narrator read out female characters’ words in a falsetto voice, or tried to put on a foreign accent. That could get awful.

For me that was the worse in “The World is Flat” when the narrator felt he had to do an Indian accent for anyone with an Indian name. Particularly galling when the person he was doing was someone who’d lived in the U.S. since they were a young child and most likely wouldn’t have had an accent at all - unless it was maybe a Brooklyn one.

George Guidall is one of my favorite readers, but I do fault him for his female voices. All his women sound whiny to me, and I wind up disliking perfectly decent characters.

So true about the accents and gender voices. The good readers can do both male and female without sounding like stereotypes; the really good readers can do many accents without sounding silly; the greats can make the individual characters recognizable by voice. Who knew reading a book was so hard?

I like to cite the Patrick O’Brian books as a good example. Read by Patrick Kelly, I think? Anyway, the narrator makes the language of the sea and the various English/Irish/Scottish accents come alive in a way I would never get from just looking at the words.

I generally count it as reading, even though it’s usually easier for me to listen to an audiobook than read a real book these days (head injury, alas). I only go with unabridged audiobooks, though, unless I absolutely can’t find the book in unabridged form and can’t read it in print form. Abridged audiobooks are the devil’s spawn and the inventor of the whole concept of abridgment (I’m looking at you, Reader’s Digest) should be drawn and quartered.

I certainly agree that sometimes the narrator’s attempt at doing voices are annoying. Jim Dale does a pretty good job of this, though, in my experience.

What’s more annoying is when I can tell the narrator has put the emphasis on the wrong word in the sentence, which sometimes can significantly affect the meaning of the passage. Most annoying is when they pronounce a word wrong (usually when it’s a heteronym and they pronounce the word like a different heteronym).

Slightly annoying is when they pronounce characters’ names differently than I pronounced them in my head (of course, this is only applicable when I’m listening to a book I already read in printed form).

No apology necessary. If you’ve listened while someone else read a book to you, either in person or on a recording, you can’t literally say you’ve read it yourself, but so what? What you’ve done is just as good, provided (1) you listened to the whole thing, not just an abridgement, and (2) you aren’t one of those people who processes language/information a lot better visually than aurally. In a few cases (e.g. plays), reading the printed version is actually the less “legitimate” way of experiencing a work.

See also Readers, are books on tape cheating?