Thursday, June 3, 2021

Here at the Library: Audiobooks

 Here at the Library
    Here at the library, we have audiobooks. We also have our Overdrive and Hoopla, apps where you can borrow and download audiobooks for your devices. If you have questions about how to use the apps for your devices, give us a call! We'll be happy to help you!
    As I've stated before in some of my posts, I like to listen to podcasts. I listen to them while I'm on the treadmill, or outside running, or washing dishes, or cleaning the house, or mowing the lawn, or on my way to get the point. I listen to podcasts a lot. However, I caught up on all the episodes of my favorite podcast and while there are others that I like, they are lacking something. I stumbled upon something outside of my usual true crime genre and found a podcast called, 'What Should I Read Next?' Now, I love me some books, but I have a TBR (to be read) list a mile long and growing. Did I really want to listen to a podcast that will give me more books that I want to read? I needed something for my morning exercise session so I tapped download. To my surprise, the podcast didn't hurt my problem, it helped it. The episode I chose to listen to had a guest who was a woman in 7 different book clubs. 7!?! I can only read one book at a time, and while I am a fast reader, I don't know that I could join 7 book clubs and still be able to read what I enjoy. The host asked her how it was possible, her answer startled me. In addition to reading a physical book, or on a tablet, she listened to audiobooks.

    So here's the question. Does listening to an audiobook 'count' as reading the story? There are arguments for and against. A lot of people view listening to audiobooks as "cheating", they aren't really reading the book. But, they're still getting all the information from the book, just because they aren't reading words on a page. Does that mean it doesn't count? 
    A 2019 study by the Journal of Neuroscience states that whether the words of a story come from listening or reading, it appears that the brain activates the same areas to represent their sematntics or meaning. 
    To settle the debate, various experiments have been done to see if reading is actually better than listening to an audiobook. First, you have to know that everyone has a different style of learning. Currently there are seven different styles of learning, basically this just means that what works for one person will not work for another. I'll get into that more later, after I explain the different arguments. One of the biggest arguments against audiobooks states that people usually listen to the stories while doing something else, like I often do, cleaning, exercising, etc. Due to the fact that we are doing a task, our brain isn't entirely focused on the story. Therefore we aren't retaining the information the same way we would have had we actually read the book. Another 'against' argument says that due to the way that the narrator reads the book, the listener may be influenced into certain assumptions or ideas based on their tone or expression. In simple terms the narrator passes their impressions and ideas on to the listener and as a result the listener doesn't form their own impressions. Finally, some argue that listeners aren't as likely to retain what they've read (heard).

    The 'for' arguments. The most obvious argument for the legitimacy of audiobooks is that the content is the same regardless of whether the book is being read or listened to. To say that listening to a book isn't the same as reading, excludes all visually impared people from being able to say that they are a reader...which seems extremely unfair. To cancel out the argument that listeners don't retain what they've read/heard,  a 2016 study had a selection of people read sections of Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken, while others listened to the same sections. After they read or listened to the story they took a quiz that tested their comprehension and memory. The study found that people were able to recall just as much from listening to an audiobook as they were from reading. When doctors compared semantic brain maps for listening and reading the researchers found that they were almost identical. 

    There are advantages and disadvantages to listening to audiobooks. In my case, I have no trouble reading a physical book. I actually start to panic if I don't have a book to read! BUT, I can't read more than one book at a time, my brain gets confused. I can, however, listen to an audiobook and read a physical book without getting the plot and characters confused (sidenote, I do not read a book and listen to an audiobook simultaneously). With audiobooks I can visit the books that are recommended to me that I don't actually want to read all that much and I can take the time to read a physical book that I DO want to read. I can try a new genre, or 'meet' an author that I haven't 'met' before.
    Audiobooks open the door to the world of books to those who struggle reading. One of my children, I'm not naming which one so I remain alive for another day, has trouble focusing and struggles with reading assignments. Their teacher recommended that they try the audiobook and use it along with the physical book. This was the perfect solution. When it was hard to pay attention to the words, the audiobook filled in and kept them going. 

    The content of a book remains the same whether it's read or listened to. If you're interested in giving an audiobook a try you can find them almost anywhere you find your books. I mentioned before that audiobooks can be found on Hoopla and Overdrive. Here are some additional sources for free audiobooks for children:

For Teens

Soon you'll be able to get audiobooks through Spotify, you can also try audible free for 30 days. 

    Try an audiobook. Let me know what you think!

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