I’ve noticed a trend in my reading: I tend to like certain types of books better when I listen to them. I think this has a whole lot to do with my attention span.
When I listen to an audiobook, my expectations are different. I find that certain books (especially those with a lot of detail) are much more palatable for me as audiobooks for a few different reasons:
- With audiobooks, I expect the “reading” process to be long and drawn-0ut over several days or even weeks since I listen mostly when I’m in the car (or doing chores like laundry). Since the listening process is already longer, I don’t get as impatient with the details as I do when I read. I don’t feel the need to “hurry up” like I sometimes do with reading.
- Sometimes breaks from a book can be a positive thing. Especially with books that are very long and detailed, I might prefer to read them in smaller pieces, but I generally don’t allow myself that option when I read.
- I find that detailed descriptions are easier for me to listen to than to read because I’m usually multi-tasking while listening. While reading, I might be tempted to skim through long descriptions, but while listening, I find that the multi-tasking part of my brain is fine with focusing a bit less on the book and more on whatever else I’m doing. I actually think I absorb more of the details this way than I do when I read because I find myself skimming.
- I should note that some people have a hard time with this. They tend to zone out completely during these parts and lose the thread of the audiobook. I don’t do this. I still manage to listen even during parts that aren’t as exciting, so I don’t lose track of the plot.
- The vocal performance of a book often draws me into the story more. A good narrator can make me care even more about the characters than I might otherwise have and can convey emotion. Characters I might not have cared as much about on paper come alive to me through great narration.
- UPDATE: While responding to comments, I came up with one more theory about why slower books work better for me as audiobooks, and I thought I’d add it here. Audiobooks are automatically paced (too slow—I almost always listen to audiobooks at 1.5x speed), so that means I can’t get slogged down in the slow parts of a book. While reading, I might slow down my reading pace during those parts and feel like it’s taking too long, but the audiobook keeps chugging along at the same pace no matter what!
Because of these things, I sometimes find that books that I started to read but didn’t capture my attention right away or books that I keep meaning to read, but can’t quite work up excitement about work really well for me as audiobooks. I’ve sometimes wondered if I rate books higher as audiobooks than I would have if I’d read them. At least when it comes to those more dense reads (I don’t feel like this holds as true with light and fluffy books, which I think I just prefer to read). I don’t know that I’ll ever have a definitive answer for this, but it’s a sneaking suspicion…
In the end, I’m happy that I have different methods of reading books that suit me in different ways. If audiobooks amp my enjoyment of certain types of books, yay for that! I’m also wondering if I read ebooks vs. physical copies “differently.” I have an idea that I might, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Hmmmm….