Readers, are books on tape cheating?

It’s not cheating because it’s not a competition. If listening gets you want you want, information or entertainment, do it.

As for the side issue of skipping ahead, I generally only do that if the book is getting dull or seriously depressing, and I want to know if it gets better, or if I’ve decided I don’t want to read the whole thing, so I skip to the end to get the ending and closure.

I have a tough time concentrating on audiobooks.

But I don’t really understand the question. Cheating what? There aren’t any rules, are there?

If it’s just a matter of attention span, I hardly think audiobooks are any better. When you’re reading, you can go however fast or slow works best for you, but if you’re listening, it’s easy for the mind to wander if the pace isn’t right or the reader isn’t very good. It’s probably more a matter of how well your brain processes information, visually vs. audibly, than attention span. Personally, reading comes more naturally to me, and for the majority of books, I’d rather read than listen to them. (For one thing, I can get through them quicker that way, and I will never have more time than books I want to read.) But there are some audiobooks I really enjoy, moreso than if I’d read them for myself.

Every so often, a thread comes up about audiobooks here in Cafe Society. Do a search; you’ll find there are quite a few Dopers who are fans of the medium.

If you asked an author whether it was “cheating” to listen to his books rather than read them, he’d probably say, “Of course not. Whichever way best allows you to appreciate the book is the right way.” Stephen King, for example, is a professed fan of audiobooks.

As has been mentioned, though, listening to abridged books on tape may well be cheating.

Half-listening to a book while you’re doing something else distracting, so that it doesn’t really sink in, might also be considered cheating.

And a bad reader can ruin an otherwise good book.

Cheating as in if it’s a book you’re supposed to read for class? Or just cheating in the general sense of “READING IS GOOD, ILLITERACY IS BAD”?

The former, I think it’s fine as long as it’s unabridged (otherwise you run into the idea of watching the movie instead of reading the book), and there’s nothing specifically visual about the book like pictures, diagrams or even forms of wordplay.

The latter, reading can be a great experience and enrich your life, but as long as you already have developed reading skills, an unabridged reading of a book is usually not significantly different. Some people have talked about television, etc, ruining people’s reading, but the same was once said about writing ruining the great oral traditions.

So no, it’s not cheating. But sometimes creative works depend on the medium they were originally intended for to have their full impact. Reading in your head is not that different from reading out loud so it usually won’t make much different in this case. You might want to try some radio dramas tho to get an idea of what it’s like to hear a story truly intended for the audio medium.

That is the (attempted) PC version. :slight_smile: Both you and I know those statues weren’t indian to begin with.

To answer the OP, books on tape are fine. I read maybe a book a week, and I enjoy a taped book from time to time too. I’lll even recomend that you listen to “a series of unfortunate events” on tape, the Tim Curry version is exelent.

Marshall McLuhan might think so.

I don’t know. It’s a different experience. When you’re reading a book, there’s getting the story, and there’s enoying the prose.

The most enjoyable book I’ve read lately is “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s practically poetry. When you read a sentence/paragraph, you’re putting your own interpretation of the rhythm, the stresses, the flow into the words.

On the other hand, maybe you like hearing another person’s interpretation of those things.

But, if all you do is listen to books on tape, and don’t read, I’d suggest you’re definitely missing something, but it’s still better than Sean Hannity.

I used to have a coworker who would say “I read that on tape” and it would drive me nuts. I am less bothered by this now, but it isn’t reading.

I tried books on tape while I was working out. I haven’t enjoyed a single book that I listened to on tape. For me it was a whole different experience. It just wasn’t the same as reading is for me.

Having said all that, I think you should do whatever you enjoy. And if you enjoy listening to a book on tape, then I think you should do so. It isn’t cheating. (but it isn’t reading either. :smiley: )

This *is * true, but when I’m on the treadmill or elliptical (not weight training), even hearing Mike Tyson read *Ulysses * is better than the actual boring experience I’m going through. :smiley:

I think readers do tend to be a little snobby about their hobby, looking down on television and audio books as inferior mediums. Just like some non-readers can’t fathom why a person would spend so much time with their nose in a book. But not even the snobs can object to someone listening to an audio book in the car. The only thing that makes me shudder is the notion of *abridged *audio books. Don’t people wonder what they’re missing?

I’m a compulsive reader, but I have to remind myself that I’m not exactly reading the classics and so my chosen form of entertainment might be considered only one step above watching sitcoms on TV.

I like to read.

There is nothing, for me, that makes a long drive more endurable than books on tape…except for back when KOMA (Clear channel station in Oklahoma City) used to do old-time-radio shows on Sunday evening.

There are a number of books which I can’t recall if I read or listened to on tape.

Hey, how bout you mention that you have to fucking pay for it?

I guess I’m one of the few people who likes to read books and listen to audiobooks. I suppose if I had to pick, I’d say that I enjoy audiobooks more, simply because I listen to more of them than I read books. When I have free time, I tend to spend it reading things online more often than not.

Audiobooks actually do a wonderful job of keeping my brain engaged while driving and at work. I can listen and comprehend without distracting myself from the task at hand, whereas without it my mind would wander, which can be more dangerous on the road. My job tends to get repetitious and I need something to occupy my brain; if I’m not listening to an audiobook, I’ll flip between my work and websurfing, which hurts my productivity far worse than otherwise like now, for instance.

I get as much out of listening to an audiobook as reading a real book; in fact, I’ve occasionally encountered a book in both forms and found the experience to be almost the same. I personally think it’s a quite valid way of enjoying a book, but it obviously varies from person to person. (Admittedly, I’m listening to Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash right now and really wishing I could skip past some of the drier spots. :stuck_out_tongue: )

Also, another vote for abridged versions suck. When looking for a new audiobook, one of my requirements is that it be at least 10 hours long.

Love audio books, but not in the car, unless I’m very wide awake. Even a gripping novel isn’t enough to keep me from nodding off when someone reads to me.

Books need to be recorded by someone who can do them justice. John le Carré reads his own novels brilliantly, but I hope that Margaret Atwood doesn’t read hers.

There is no way to cheat here. Do whatever pleases you.

I agree. I don’t think Atwood read the recording I heard.
Some authors can read their own stuff, like Stephen King or James Burke. But ernest Hemingway is terrible. John McPhee sounds like someone reading, sight unseen, something that’s just been placed in front of him. The worst of all I’ve heard is T.S. Elliot, who sounds like a soulless robot when he reads his own poetry.

I mean, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock is bleak enough as it is …

It was the only way I could get through the Tolken series… great story, tough writing to sit down and read.

Some Stephen King books are the same way… lots of scene setting, and that can drag when reading.

I use it to suppliment my “book” reading, as I also have a 45 minute commute each way, and I do a fair bit of “distance to pleasure” driving as well.

I’ve enjoyed hearing (recordings of) Tolkien reading his own work. His Gollum sounds not unlike Andy Serkis’s.

Writers who are very good at reading their own works include David Sedaris, Douglas Adams, Steve Martin, Harlan Ellison, Garrison Keillor, Al Franken… not surprisingly, many of these are the ones with a background in performance/broadcasting.
I agree that a bad reader can kill a good book, and some authors ought to leave it to the professional readers. Then again, the professionals don’t always do a good job either. One of my least favorites was listening to Arte Johnson reading a Dave Barry book. The material would have been funny if I’d been reading it on the page, or if it had been read in the straightforward, deadpan way I imagine it calls for. Instead, the narrator killed the funny by overperforming it, with way too much wink-wink here-comes-a-funny-line in his voice.

Bad readers are indeed bad, but to my dismay I’ve found that if I listen long enough to a book, that reader’s voice becomes natural to me. Starting a new book with a new reader always throws me for a while.

Intelligent actors do very, very well for reading. There’s a few Star Trek audiobooks (which are all abridged, but they’re still my biggest vice :frowning: ) that are read by John de Lancie and/or Majel Barret, and those two do excellent jobs, inserting inflection and tone right where it’s most appropriate.

The ones that are most fun are those that use full casts. Redwall may be a children’s novel, but the audiobook uses a wide range of readers and the narration is done by Brian Jacques himself. It’s an absolutely wonderful performance to listen to when you’re in the mood for light fantasy.

I think I may have crossed the geek/nerd border about a mile or two back…

You could have told us it costs money to get the results.

I enjoy reading via the eyes, I find the mind has more fun with the literature. That being said, however, literature began with the oral story telling, from Beowolf to the Illiad, the bard would tell the story and the result probably would probably be not unlike what a book on disc or tape would be.

So cheating, no… just a return to the roots.

Yes! :mad: I’ve gotten an email from them every damn day now, and didn’t even get my results. Grrr!