Saturday, January 18, 2020

The great audiobook debate - Do they count?

I see this discussion come up on Twitter and Facebook every so often and it seems to be making a comeback. Certain people believe that audiobooks don't "count," especially towards reading goals like the Goodreads Challenge. The argument I see most often is that listening is fundamentally different from reading words on a page - but is it really?

To answer this question I took to the interwebs, searching for opinions and studies on this topic. By and large it seems like actual research points to physical copies and audiobooks being the same to our brains. Meanwhile, readers on social media constantly bicker over whether listening to audiobooks is "real" reading.

One study in 2016 found that there was no significant difference between audiobooks, e-books, or using both at once. The study concluded that "comparable comprehension and retention of text occur regardless of the modality of presentation."

Another study in 2019 showed similar results. According to these researchers, the same cognitive and emotional areas of the brain were stimulated regardless of whether the subject was reading a physical copy or listening to an audiobook. You can even check out the brain maps for yourself!

Personally, I listen to A LOT of audiobooks. I listen while I clean, while I work, drive, and shower. If there's no one else around and I'm not reading or watching TV, you can safely bet I'm listening to a book. And yes, you better believe they count towards my Goodreads goal! Trust me, if I'd had access to Hoopla in high school I would've been listening to my required reading!

I'm not sure why some people get so bent out of shape over audiobooks in place of reading physical copies of books. Both get the information into our brains and both let us fangirl over stories together, so why the superiority complex?

Do you think audiobooks count as reading?
Do count audiobooks towards your GR goal?
Let me know in the comments!