Audio books

Longread on audiobooks with some historical information on their development.  But it’s also about being a grad student and reading more generally.

The opening lines are:  “I used to avoid talking about audio books. In general if you are 28 years old and in graduate school and you listen to audio books then the worst thing about the whole practice is admitting it to your graduate-school peers.”

I think some programs and disciplines are probably more open to audiobooks than others, but there’s also that question (or secret guilt) of whether you as a student are engaging “fully” or “properly” or “the way we always have” with a text if you don’t have a physical book. This applies to ebooks as well as audiobooks.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Audio books

  1. Amy

    This morning I asked my students to reflect on whether or not they’ve learned anything in our class that they see as applicable in other contexts. One student mentioned that learning to annotate helped her to not fall asleep while reading her biology textbook. Her comment lead us into a discussion about the values of annotating when I admitted to annotating conversations during meetings (in which I am particularly bored or perhaps sans morning coffee) to maintain engagement. In that respect, I see no difference in how I would approach an audiobook – I’d probably annotate while listening. Of course I acknowledge that there are many differences in the practice of annotating while listening rather than reading, but I think it’s interesting/valuable to explore these differences.

    I’m currently at a crossroads with academic ebooks. I read them faster but I am less inclined to take notes on them because I get so into the fluidity of my reading process. I can’t win!

  2. lmaruca

    Yeah, I see a crucial issue in annotation practices as well. I mean, one of the points of an audiobook is that one listens while doing something else–driving, jogging, and cleaning are common examples–so it’s not very conducive to picking up a pen and making notes. But presuming one sat down and seriously listened in stillness to a book, the annotations would still be divorced from the text. I see a separation of text and reader here that I do not like.

    That being said, I do not think that audiobooks are otherwise inferior or “kitschy” as the blogger worries. Indeed, for auditory learners, they are superior to visual reading. Overall, they are understudied and deserve much more attention in terms of theories of performance, reading practices, cultural values, etc.

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