I Read by Ear
Often times when scrolling the internet, the forums of readers on Facebook and Goodreads, I find myself stumbling across the same question over and over; "Do Audiobooks count as reading?"
When I first read that that question I was not only stumped but borderline offended. Most, if not all, my reading is done in Audiobook format. It's how I learn and "read" best, absorbing the story as I work, ride, paint, draw, the million and one things I do throughout the day that are active movements, and in the space of the time it took to read that question, I was thrown into doubt.
Is it the same? Does it count?
Long and short of it, I realized, came down to this; was the story alive? Because if the story was alive, if I was actively imagining the scenes, it doesn't matter if I was reading the book, listening to the audio version, or watching someone tell it with smoke signals - I 'read' the book. Traditionally, no, but for the purpose of the author, I had. Webster dictionary and google might argue that to "read" is the act of interrupting meaning from written word or dialogue, and that would be right, but to really read the book it doesn't need to be you reading it.
I find I can hear the words so much better than reading them, that scenes unfold in the voice of a narrator, and characters leap into existence from a recording. It's the same with learning for me; in college I struggled with reading the text book and truly learning - I might recite the paragraph word for word when I was done and still never absorb the meaning and, to the author side of me, it's the meaning of my words, my stories, that actually matter.
So long and short from the perspective of this author; yes. Listening is reading.
But this debate, like many, is objective and will always rise back up in one way or another. The story might be enjoyed but the reader - listener - may still doubt themselves. We can only hope that they don't doubt for long.
This is just my own thoughts on the matter, my reasoning. I would love your thoughts in the comments below; does listening to an audiobook count as reading?