Storytelling has been around since the beginning of human history. It was only in around 4000 BCE did written language come into being, but even then things were generally told aloud (Thomson, 2017). Novels are a pretty new concept. They only came into existence in the 19thcentury, when the printing press was invented. And as a result, silent reading became popularized. So, this idea of silent reading, it’s also fairly new (Tien, 2017). Yet, today, as audiobooks are on the rise, bringing back this ancient tradition, we still have people questioning whether listening to audiobooks counts as reading, despite the fact that they are both a means of storytelling.
Daniel T. Willingham wrote an article for the New York Times called “Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It?”. Willingham is a psychologist at the University of Virginia and he studies reading. In his article he says, “today the question I get most often is, ‘Is it cheating if I listen to an audiobook for my book club?’” (Willingham, 2018). He goes on to explain the benefits of audiobooks and overall concludes that both audiobooks and print books are good, but they are just good for different reasons.
But Willingham’s article isn’t the only article addressing this issue. If you just simply google “is audiobooks cheating” or “is audiobooks the same as reading” you will stumble upon pages and pages of articles addressing this.
The common complaints, or reasons, that people think audiobooks aren’t as good as reading include things like listening is a passive activity or you don’t need the same level of concentration or you can’t control the pace, or it’s for children (Rubery, 2011)! There are also literary critics such as Harold Bloom who feed into this stigma by saying things like “‘Deep reading really demands the inner ear as well as the outer ear… You need the whole cognitive process, that part of you which is open to wisdom. You need the text in front of you’” (Harmon, 2005).
I hope to address this controversy to eliminate this stigma we have around the use of audiobooks. For many, audiobooks are the main means of getting a story. For others it’s just preference in their learning style. And saying “is it cheating” only lessens the value of them, even if you don’t mean to. So, why should we value audiobooks? Well, I intend to find out.
Harmon, A. (May 26, 2005). Loud, Proud, Unabridged: It Is Too Reading! [Archived]. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/learning/students/pop/20050527snapfriday.html
Rubery, M. (2011). Audiobooks, literature, and sound studies. Routledge. Retrieved from https://books.scholarsportal.info/uri/ebooks/ebooks2/taylorandfrancis/2013-03-25/3/9780203818039
Thomson, S. (May 2, 2017). Folk literature. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved fromhttps://www.britannica.com/art/folk-literature
Tien, S. (June 26, 2017). Audiobook Anxiety and What Constitutes ‘Real’ Reading. The Walrus. Retrieved from https://thewalrus.ca/audiobook-anxiety-and-what-constitutes-real-reading/
Willingham, D. T. (December 8, 2018). Is Listening to a Book the Same Things as Reading It? The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/08/opinion/sunday/audiobooks-reading-cheating-listening.html
The opinion piece that I selected was called “Is listening to a book the same thing as reading it?” and published by the New York Times. The author goes over the controversial topic of reading books versus listening to them. In this piece, the author discusses how reading books are better for some situations and listening to books are better for other reasons. For instance, you can’t really read when you are cleaning or driving, so this makes listening a much better option. In the end, the author doesn’t pick one over the other, rather he says that both are good in their own way. The evidence he looks at are different studies and experiments that were done to see if people retained more when they read something versus when they listened to it. The author also reflects on his own experiences when reading/listening. This article is an opinion piece because he looks at a controversial topic and takes a side on it; another person may have a different view on audiobooks, such as they are against them.
The author, Daniel T. Willingham, is a psychologist at the University of Virginia. His work surrounds the topic of cognitive processes, and most of his published works discuss the cognitive processes of students who read. With his knowledge and qualifications this may be why he has these views on the topic. Perhaps someone else who does not have this knowledge might have a different reaction to audiobooks for a non-academic reason.
The social context of this piece is how it is changing how people read. Reading is something we’ve done for hundreds of years, but in just the last five people now look to listen to their books instead. This shows how technology is changing and how our society is changing too.
This piece has potential for an interesting podcast topic because it would be interesting to see the real benefits of audiobooks, especially in the lives of people with disabilities like dyslexia or blindness. At first, I was against audiobooks myself, but seeing how it may benefit those who need a little help has opened my mind; I hope I can do the same thing for other people in my podcast.
Opinions are something we all have: it is what makes up who we are as people. Everything from our values and our philosophy to our likes and dislikes are things that are true in our opinion. It’s interesting to also note that these opinions make up the facts of who we are. Me believing in God or me disliking mushrooms are my opinions but these are facts about me.
The blog post about whether philosophy is an opinion is interesting. I feel like I don’t agree with what the author is saying, that philosophy is not an opinion. I would say that philosophy is an opinion of sorts. Yes, opinions are things that are backed up with facts and knowledge, but the overall idea is subjective, and everyone has a different opinion on it. For instance, the matter of free will versus determinism is one big philosophical idea. I could say I believe that everything is predetermined for us, and I could state the arguments that this view supports. However, there is still the fact that the other view exists, and this other view has its own arguments supporting it. These opposing sides both have truthful facts, yet people have their own opinion on what they feel is the right.
Hello! My name is Hannah and I am in second year doing English and Professional Writing. This year is when I switched into this major and I am really excited to see where this road will take me. I wouldn’t call myself a writer, but I do want to become one so I'm hoping somewhere along the line my writing skills will grow. I love books and reading (though I find that these days reading has been replaced with Netflix). I wouldn’t call myself a shopaholic, but leave me in a mall for a couple hours and I am leaving there with a few bags.I love pop music, classical music and a little bit of show tunes, and I love podcasts! My favourite ones are Reply All by Gimlet Media and Serial by This American Life (I binged listened to this because the case of Adnan Syed was so interesting: I recommend to everyone!).
The course project is actually what drew me to taking this course (other than the fact that it is a required course for this major). I am always trying to find outlet for my creativity and I’m hoping that this could be one way for me to do that.
A research tactic that I use is to first start with getting to know my topic. I first do a simple Google search to get a better idea of what it is I am looking at and where to start digging deeper. After, I check the library databases to see what articles will come up. However, for me I always find that I never find anything useful in these databases; I think it’s a matter of using the right words, but I like using Google Scholar. I find my best articles come from there, as they search all different databases and you are not limited to looking through one at a time.