Productivity & Work Psychology

Do audiobooks count as reading?

listening to audiobooks is reading
Reading with your ears.

“Did you read the book?” she asked.

“Yes, I listed to the audiobook.”

“So, you didn’t really read it. You might as well just wait until they make the movie.”

Does listening to books count as reading? According to University of Virginia psychologist Daniel Willingham,

“If you take the question from the perspective of cognitive psychology — that is, the mental processes involved — there is no real difference between listening to a book and reading it. So, according to that understanding of the question: No, audiobooks are not cheating.”

When it comes to reading, there are two processes: decoding the words and understanding what they mean. Reading takes work.

“But by about late elementary school, decoding becomes so second-nature that it isn’t any additional “work” for your brain. It happens automatically.”

Bragging about reading is a sense of pride that harks back to our classroom mentality. However, reading can make you a better listener. If you can stay focused and read a book for at least a half hour a day and avoid skimming, reading can also help you live longer.

So, as long as you are not fast-forwarding the audiobook, let other members in book club brag all they want. You still read the book. You just with read it with your ears.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.