Everyone talks about what makes a great summer read, but maybe it’s really about not having to read at all—at least with your eyes. Whether we’re road-tripping, hiking, or chilling out—or, let’s be honest, doing some late spring cleaning—we are, obviously, big fans of listening to great stories.
First of all, yes, audiobooks count as reading! I mean, it’s not like there’s some book police coming to get you for saying you read a book when you actually listened to it. But what matters is absorbing and engaging with a story, going on a journey and enjoying yourself. Daniel Willingham, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, is the author of The Reading Mind, and according to him:
“For most books, for most purposes, listening and reading are more or less the same thing. So listening to an audiobook is not “cheating,” but let me tell you why I objected to phrasing the question that way. “Cheating” implies an unfair advantage, as though you are receiving a benefit while skirting some work. Why talk about reading as though it were work?”
So what makes an audiobook especially enjoyable?
Great narration is obviously key. It has to strike the right balance between expressive and unobtrusive. Jim Dale’s narration of the Harry Potter audiobooks is rightly famous as a top-notch performance—here’s an interview with him about his work. We also love Marc Thompson’s readings of many, many Star Wars novels. Thrawn, for example, is right on the edge of being a radio drama, with sound effects and Thompson’s expressive, expansive range of voices.
Another way to go is with an audiobook narrated by the author herself. Especially for memoirs, this can add an extra layer of meaning to what you’re listening to, and you know you’re hearing exactly what the author intended. Check out this BuzzFeed list for some great recommendations.
Happy reading, even when you’re listening!
If you enjoyed reading, keep it up and head over here for more: What do the Babadook, Waluigi, and Zelda all have in common? 🌈 🧐 🌈