Audiobooks. Such a new and foreign aspect for a conventional reader such as me. Though audiobooks have existed for years and years, as a person who has always bought her books and doesn’t have a local library with an audiobook collection, the thought of reading audiobooks had never crossed my mind.
Until last year when I saw a promotion for Amazon’s Audible that lets you pay only $5 instead of $15 for the first three months of our subscription. I only had until the end of the week to get that promo. After days of research and consideration, I signed up.
I stumbled upon this article in Literary Hub not too long ago, discussing whether audiobooks do count as reading. Of course this has been a huge source of discussion in the book community. Loads of other blogs have written about this dilemma. In the article, James Tate Hill told us how he suffered with a reading disability: he had disrupted vision and was even registered as legally blind. He found solace in audiobooks, starting out in a local library for the blind, picking up books (in the form of cassettes) that were made into movies he had enjoyed.
What I know for sure is this: Sooner or later, the voice in my ears ceases to be a voice. It becomes the words, the words become sentences, and the sentences become the story. At some point, the voice in my ears merges with my own voice the way the words on a page once became my own inner voice when I still read print.
Ultimately, the article was more about his thoughts on reading as a person who basically could only read in the conventional way other people read, when accompanied with a magnifying glass, and how he even did an English major because of his life of reading. But did all the books he listened to count as books he had read? Throughout his life he had been struggling with how people judged him for that. The author even bought paperbacks of books he’d “read”, just to showcase in a bookshelf in his house that he, as an English major, had read these books.
Alone in my bedroom when I was 16, popping tape after tape into my talking book player, it didn’t matter if I was reading or listening. The book titles on the side of the green cartons were the same as the copies found on the shelves of bookstores and regular libraries. They were the same authors. The words in my ears were the same words other people saw when they held a book in their hands.
For me, audiobooks are definitely books. For my first credit in Audible, after more research, I chose Aziz Ansari‘s Modern Romance. As a huge lover of Parks and Recreation (though I actually didn’t really like Aziz’s character Tom Haverford in the show), and recently watching Master of None and loving it, I had heard that Modern Romance was a great audiobook for beginners.
A nonfiction book written by Ansari and a psychologist Eric Klinenberg, this is a study on romance in the world filled with technology: comparing how people found their soulmates decades ago with how dating is like in the modern days. Subjects ranging from texting, dating apps, divorce rate, romance in other cultures, and monogamy were discussed in a concise, statistical way but added with Ansari’s personal flair. Here and there I would chuckle at his comments and ways he would change his accent, and I was already intrigued when I read the sample audio of the book with him mocking us as lazy people who was too lazy to read their own books.
Though the subject was far from anything I would really pick up randomly in the bookstore, the author and narrator’s unique take on reading the book out loud for us was really what made me enjoy this book a lot. At first, 5 hours of listening to Aziz Ansari talk seemed like a huge thing that I probably won’t be able to handle. However once I got into the rhythm of the audio, I began to find moments where I can continue listening to him: on train rides, while I’m cooking, before I go to sleep.
All in all, I gave the book a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a well written book that is informative and also humorous. I did not regret reading this in the form of audiobook. It adds more character and more value of enjoyment into my reading experience. I absolutely cannot wait to explore more audiobooks every month. Though my vision is not impaired like Mr Hill’s, I still completely think reading an audiobook is valid, and does count as reading. I have never and will never judge anyone who prefers listening to a book rather than reading it with their eyes. It’s a whole another world to explore! (Full review of my deeper thoughts on the book itself can be found in my Goodreads here)
PS: I realize that when I post this review a lot of you guys are probably already aware of the controversy surrounding Aziz Ansari. However I wish to not discuss about him and the rumours in his personal life. Though it is related to his work, this review is based solely on the book, my reading experience, and not at all about Aziz Ansari the famous actor and whatever he has done in the past.
Any thoughts on audiobooks? Any recommendations? Drop them by in the comments down below! Until next Sunday for another post at Ayundabhuwana’s Blog!