Read the 5 Reasons why Audio-Books Are Better than Written Books

Dexter had come out maybe one year ago. If you don’t recall, the first of the 8 seasons was perfect. The others are fine, some better than others and others better than some, as logic dictates. But that first one stands alone, atop all others. For the first time I entered the POV of a serial killer and sympathized with his evil ways. Dexter introduces his dark passenger, his code, his evolving sister and his damaged girlfriend. In that season he finds his soul mate and loses it.

The wait for the second season wasn’t pleasant, but I found out that the show was based on some books by Jeff Lindsay. At the time I hadn’t heard about the Kindle, which now I check for in my man-bag with more zeal than my wallet. The books weren’t translated to Portuguese, so I couldn’t get a hold of them. I hadn’t heard of Amazon, either. I probably didn’t have the money to buy them. What I found was the audio version of the books. I heard the first one faster than I’d read the book. The narrator’s voice was similar to Michael C. Hall’s, the actor who plays Dexter, so I was immersed in the narrative as I was in the TV show. It was a great experience, but I didn’t repeat it for a while. Don’t ask me why.

Recently I re-started listening to audio-books and I realized that they’re, in more than one way, better than their printed counterparts.

[click the image]

Chill, book-lover. Let me explain:

1. The audio-book is more loyal to the story’s origin. Books are stories. They start in the mind of the story-teller and they gain a voice when they’re told. Is there a question that the voice of the author will tell it better than his pen? Story-telling started thousands of years before books and a writers are descendants of its oral tradition.

2. You can listen to your idols. “The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.” This was said by Descartes and I’d like to have heard it said. Some of my favorite listening experiences come from books narrated by their authors.

If you have the chance to hear the authors you admire, talking to you with the inflection, rhythm and punctuation they envisioned while writing it’s a shame not to take it.

3. Audio-books are hands-free. Self-explanatory.

4. You can multi-task. (This is the consequence of point three, but I need 5 points to make a good title sound good) When I read it’s usual with a steaming mug by my side, with a small light turned on and all communications turned off. Years of reading lead to patterns which I very much enjoy. But if I only read in my ideal setting I’d still be midway the Harry Potter books I started in 5th grade. Audio-books let me add a little reading to my day, which would be impossible or at least not recommended. I audio-read in these situations:

  • While in motion. When I’m riding buses or trains or when I’m walking to places, I replace some of the music time for book time. As of proud member of the Millenial Generation, I refuse to take my driver’s license which throws me in the back of public transportations more often then I’d like and makes me walk enough to have the calves of a body-builder. In that, I give some rest to my Noah and the Whale and the Head and the Heart albums, and I time I get some reading done.
  • While fast motioning (meaning while I run). I continue listening to Mumford and Sons for this, but eventually the up kick their songs have, no longer pushed me to run the extra mile they used to. Some Stephen King does the trick.
  • While motioning weights. When I work out alone I get plenty of time between sets that used to be filled with blank staring at the ceiling, video-watching and some needy checking for interaction online. Usually some anti-god comment I posted somewhere. Listening to Frank Muller embodying the narrator and characters of The Border Trilogy, helps to distract me from other valid but time consuming hobbies.

I spend one hour a day working out, maybe 3 hours a week running and more than that walking and in public transportation. That’s a lot of reading.

5. You can finally finish that book. Sometimes I can’t get in the book, no matter how much I try. That happened in All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy. I had read The Road, but his carefully constructed and detailed style was hard to get used to. Frank Muller, the narrator showed me the voice the characters were lacking. I listened and read alternatingly, and when I read I could finally see. Also, I hear people find it easier to read classics like Dickens in audio-format.

“I've never listened to an audiobook before, and I have to say it's a totally different experience. When you read a book, the story definitely takes place in your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eyes”  ― Robin Sloan, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

see also:

Killers on TV

E-books vs Printed Books

Movie Clichés

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60 thoughts on “5 Reasons Audio-Books are Better than Printed Books

  1. I’ve been listening to audiobooks for quite a while and enjoy listening to them on my drive back and forth to work. I get my audio books from audible, its pricy but the selection is extensive.

  2. I like audio books, but would not buy them. The good part with physical books it that you can bookmark or highlight certain section. The problem with audiobooks is that you’re fast forwarding and rewinding to find the certain section.

    1. I never revisit parts of a book. I may re-listen to the entire book though, so this isn’t really an issue for me.

  3. Since I’m on the train all of the friggin’ time (yay, “proud” Milleninal) and books are heavy (especially if you want to take different books so you can choose which one you want to read right then and there), I’m going to give audio-books a try as well! (I’m a still a little bit reluctant though, but that’s because I LOVE real books so much)

      1. I don’t have a Kindle or e-reader or something like that. I always need a little encouragement when it comes to technology. I like holding a book when I read. I like the way it looks in my bookcase, I like turning pages. But on the other hand, I dislike carrying too much stuff around. Maybe I should ask an e-reader for my birthday.
        And haha, yes, a nice voice is crucial.
        I won’t let them ruin me 😉 (and I won’t listen to textbooks on tape. I’d probably fall asleep)

      2. Well, I’m partly the same way. My brother in law is a carpenter, so I’m hoping for a second free bookshelf to put the books I can’t afford but I still buy.
        I prefer paper, but the Kindle is so practical and… cheap. I saved a million dollars by now, if my math doesn’t fail me, Books are free there, if you know where to look. Know what I mean, know what I mean? Wink, wink.
        Plus, I can finally take clothes on my suitcases when I travel on Ryanair.

      3. Haha, me and some friends are travelling with Ryanair this summer and we decided to put all of our books in our hand luggage and order 2 bigger suitcases for the five of us in which we can put our clothes and towels. The money issue of books is indeed a good argument as well. Everytime I walk past a bookstore I feel the urge to go in and buy stuff. Even if that means that my money to eat that week will be gone (in which case I have to invite myself to friends’ houses and eat their food. Unfortunately, they also like collecting books, cd’s and dvd’s).
        Libraries come in handy when all of the money is gone 😉 wonderful places!
        I’ll ask my very greenminded boyfriend for an e-reader. He can’t refuse, because I will save so much trees!

      4. Yeah, the money is a good reason, but whenever I see a bookstore I still become a zombie 🙂
        And that’s a good idea. It’ll work unless he comes back with “Re-using books is still more environmentally responsible than reading e-books.” 🙂

      5. Addictions are hard to get ridd of 😉 Let’s count ourselves lucky that we’re only addicted to books & movies, and not -even more expensive – drugs (or am I only speaking for myself?)

        I guess he’s already panicking when he thinks of shacking up with me in a tiny appartment. There will be no room for anything except my books and my clothes. He even showed me this documentary about people living in small spaces and how they manage to store everything:

        Haha. My little darlings (aka my books) WILL come with me wherever I’ll live.

      6. Is this an intervention?? 😀 No, I’m not addicted to drugs and tell that to your friend, too ( ).
        And I hope he’s also 5’3″ and not 6’3″ like me. I saw the first minute of the video and I could see myself banging my head and having to walk sideways in the corridors…

      7. Haha, yes, this secretly was an intervention. I’m friends with the Portugese police. In exchange I get to hang out at their pools in the summer. Very nice deal. (this would be a nice deal… Belgium’s cold 😦 )
        I think he’s 1.80 metres tall. But hey well, if he wants to live in a small appartment, fine by me, I’m tiny and I hate cleaning.

      8. They bought you on the cheap. You know… We have the Atlantic Ocean 😀 And it has been raining for the past few days…
        I can see he lucked out. You two will have fun eating on plastic dishes sitting on piles of books 🙂

      9. haha, no, plastic dishes are forbidden! Bad for the environment 😉 He will have to do the dishes.

        We have the North Sea: always cold. Today – which is really rare – it is 34 degrees in Belgium! I’m dying!
        I only visited Portugal once, but it was really hot. We went surfing and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and I got a sunburn that was so bad that I couldn’t go in the sun for weeks. That’s why I link Portugal with sunshine and swimming.

      10. Well, as a freckled half-ginger I’m quite familiar with sun-burns, too 🙂
        And I associate Belgium with racist dwarves, with Ralph Fiennes cussing and Brandon Cleeson crushed against the pavement…

      11. Haha, racist dwarves? I don’t get that reference? (the other two are movie references, right?)
        May I add that we have the best chocolate in the world?
        How can one be a half-ginger I wonder? 😀

      12. O, wait, racist dwarf: also from In Bruges?
        Do you perhaps know the actor Matthias Schoenaerts? He was in De rouille et d’os with Marion Cottillard (and he’s Belgian, that’s why I’m asking)

      13. Yeah, all those references are from In Bruges 🙂 I LOVED that movie and forced everyone I know to watch it with me. Fortunately I only know 8 1/2 people, so I didn’t get sick of the movie. I met a Belgian girl when I was in Erasmus and she started to tell me a little about Belgian culture and what-not and I kept bothering her with “But how’s Bruges like?” She never went there so I lost interest lol
        And you probably have the best chocolate, as long as you IMPORT IT FROM SWITZERLAND!
        And do you really have to ask? I have brown hair so to be half-ginger I have to… you know… cof cof… have a ginger beard.

      14. And yeah, I know him! I really enjoyed that movie and I have on my imaginary queue one where he enters. Bull something…

      15. In Dutch the movie is called Rundskop (so in English… Bullhead I guess?)
        I’m sorry, but our chocolate is better than Swiss chocolate. I’m serious. Try it!
        I understand the half-ginger thing now. No need for further explanation ^^
        I have visited Bruges (Belgium is so small, how did this girl not visit Bruges? I don’t understand), BUT it is a boring city. I’m sorry to be the messenger of this hard news (don’t shoot me)… It’s pretty (like a real life museum of the past), but there is nothing to do, and frankly, other Belgian cities are really “pretty” as well (and there’s more liveliness there).

      16. Yeah, that’s the one… I have it on my hard drive since I… “bought it”.
        And I like cities where nothing much happens. Hate big cities. Going to Bruges is definitely on my bucket list. And I don’t know, it’s crazy that she didn’t go there. But well, I met an Italian girl who never went to Venice, so…

      17. Oh, forget it. The thing I love the most about Belgian is Michel Preud’homme. He played for Benfica for like 10 years and he was my favourite. Now I hate football, but at the time he was my idol! 😀

      18. I don’t even know him haha. I think football is utterly boring. Do you know the movies of the brothers Dardenne? (they’re Belgians. Walloons though, so they speak French).

      19. Well, do yourself a favour and look him up, OK? A Belgian not knowing the greatest thing her country produced… (I’m bobbing my head in disapproval) 😀
        And I heard of them, but never saw anything.
        Ever heard of Manoel de Oliveira?

      20. I looked up the footballer guy, but even his picture didn’t ring a bell. Oops. O well. Again: football isn’t exactly on my list of favorite things.
        The movies of the Dardenne brothers are good, but grim.
        I have heard of de Oliveira, but I don’t believe I saw anything he directed. Any good?
        I missed your answer in which you said that you like cities where nothing much happens. But it’s not that Bruges is a nice quiet town, o no, there are sooo many tourists there. I believe there are more tourists than actual Belgian people in Bruges on a daily basis.

        And haha, you have it on your drive ever since you “bought it”. Well, watch it. It’s dark, but good. The accents are really interesting as well, but since you probably don’t know what Flemish sounds like, it won’t mean much too you. Matthias Schoenaerts is a bit our own – less hot – Ryan Gosling (in Bullhead he’s creepy though).

      21. You didn’t have to add the less hot. Everyone is less hot! And yeah, my Flemish is a little bit rusty 🙂
        And no. I never saw anything by him, which is deserving of capital punishment of a wannabe Portuguese film critic… But he’s know for being the oldest filmmaker in activity. He’s 104 and is working on several projects 😀

      22. That’s true. No one can even come close to Ryan’s hotness.
        I suggest you start binge-watching de Oliveira (does that mean Olivebranch, Oliveyard, something like that?)
        104 yeard old… wow.

      23. Oliveira means olive tree. He was the one who planted the first olive tree in the world, and they named it after him. True story.
        And god, no! He’s the epitome of Portuguese cinema. Slow paced art-films. Ew.

      24. haha sure, than how do you explain that the olive tree is the most cited plant in western literature? 😉
        Slow paced art-films, nice, I’m checking him out. I’ve watched Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó, so now I can handle anything.

      25. I loved that movie. It’s better watched in slow motion, to really capture all its details. 🙂
        I should watch some Hungarian movies. I was there for 6 months and I love their language, but I still know nothing about them…
        And he’s older than western literature… that’s why…

      26. Good comeback, a 104 year old is older than Western Lit. (that would have made my studies way easier haha).
        I also don’t know a lot about Hungary. I’ve only been to Budapest and I didn’t understand a thing they were saying. You liked the language? To me it sounded a bit like Scandinavian mixed with Arabic, haha.
        If you watch Sátántangó in slomo, you’re in for a three-days-non-stop-screening. Damn.

      27. Oh, it’s impossible to understand but it sounds great. They have one of the few accents that you can immediately identify. They kind of sing the words, even in English. But it’s hard! I learned how to order beer, to thank people when they give me beer, how to cheer and the numbers until 1000, so I could order as much beer as I needed 😀
        And I lived in a small town there and visited some other cities besides Budapest and found it really beautiful.

      28. I remember alcohol being very cheap there (or at least, in comparison with the price of alcohol in Belgium. Food was also really cheap. Which was fun for me since I don’t drink, but I do LOVE food).
        I can imagine in what kind of drunk haze you must have been with your knowledge of Hungarian numbers and ordering skills, haha.
        Budapest was really nice as well. I’m definitely going back there one day.

      29. Yeah, 230 forints for a half-liter of Soproni. That’s like 0,75€. And you don’t drink? Do you hate fun?!
        And I don’t drink that much, I haven’t drunk at all for months 🙂 But it was good to be able to get buzzed without having to spend all of my rent money. Big guys have to drink more :/
        And yeah, Budapest is beautiful! And cheap. I never saw such cheap roams with so much quality.

      30. Yes, I’m a party pooper, I hate fun and I never go out. Dancing is stupid, music is lame, parties are loud and annoying. (read as: I LOVE parties, I just don’t need alcohol to dance on tables, I’m sociable and quirky and don’t need encouragement to have fun 😉 ) (Plus: I just don’t like the way alcohol tastes)
        When I visited Portugal we stayed in the best hostels of the world. And they were quite cheap as well (nog as cheap as in Budapest, but they were nicer).

      31. I’m all of the opposite and I need all the encouragement I can get! And come on, nobody likes the taste of alcohol. People drink to get drunk. If you like beer more than orange juice there’s something wrong with your palate 🙂
        And I don’t know about Portuguese hostels, I’ve never been in one. But I paid 8 euros for a split room with a flat screen, big living room, washing room, great beds, better view. 8 EUROS!

      32. I know a lot of people who claim to love the taste of beer, wine, etc. But I really think it’s awful + I don’t necessarily want to get drunk (as I said before: I don’t need the encouragement, I’m an extravert person. But I understand why other people want to drink. I don’t care, I just don’t want to join in).
        8 euros for such a nice room is indeed a very good deal! O damn it, now I really want to travel! But I still have one exam next week, so no fun for me 😦

      33. Well, give any one Belgian chocolate and they’ll love it. Do it the same with alcohol and he’ll hate it. You grow to like it, at best 🙂 And yeah, it was perfect. We even got a bottle of wine by the management 😀
        And the same with me. Now that I can get free places to stay I can’t go 😦 but instead of exams I have the no job no money problem..

      34. Come on readers, give this boy/man (sorry, I find this a difficult age to know what to call people) a job!
        (Maybe I shouldn’t spam your blogposts like this, haha, there are like 40 comments or so. Oops)

      35. Well, call me Boy-Man! I’m a superhero boy with the powers of a man. Like Kick-puncher… Maybe if I stopped memorizing Pop Culture and work on something I’d have a job.
        And yeah. WordPress sent me like ten messsages already “Is this comment spam?””Are you sure it isn’t?””It must be spam!””Those comments are so spammy, Monty Python will get together to make a song about them.”

      36. Haha, alright Boy-Man. In that case I’m a Girl-Woman, a superhero girl with the powers of a woman! (and no, that doesn’t mean I’m an incredible housewife who can clean your house in less than 10 seconds)
        I believe that the ability to memorize Pop Culture is thé skill to put on your résumé.
        Monty Python has made the soundtrack of my life & has ruined my idea of what is and isn’t funny. (Meaning: nothing is as funny as MP, which ruins a lot of other comedy stuff for me).

      37. And we battle adult trouble with a child’s insights. We’re invincible. And I wouldn’t make a chauvinistic joke. Those are gross! Thank God we have equality and WiFi on kitchens…
        And yeah. I’ll put my picture on my resume with a balloon over my head saying “Movie Reference.”
        MP is too different to really compare to anything else, so I remain comedically unspoiled! 🙂 If they ruined you for funny things, you can always look on the bright side of life. God, they have such great songs! The Lumberjack song and Every Sperm is sacred are my favourite!

      38. Haha, I constantly sing “Every sperm is sacred”. Maybe not such a good idea. But whatever.
        I really like our superpowers! I think Wes Anderson should make a movie about us!
        I def. look on the bright side of life (when I’m not complaining about exams and my (procrastinated) master’s thesis and rain).
        I think your résumé will immediately look more interesting. I would def. hire you.

      39. Please find a job in a fertility clinic! Or in an adult video store, if those exist!
        And yeah. I’ll propose that to Wes, but because I had the original idea I’ll get the most money! I hope you don’t become my Eduardo!
        And when you get a job at a Flemish newspaper I’ll take you up on your offer. In the meanwhile I’ll add to my CV that I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK. I sleep all night and I work all day!

      40. Adult video stores exist, but I don’t think they get a lot of customers these days. But hey, if I really can’t find a job anywhere else, I’ll take it (When I sing “Every sperm is sacred” there I’ll probably get tipped!).
        Sure, you get the money, I don’t even care about money if Wes is making a movie about ME (and you, but whatever, you already get the money).
        If I get a job at a Flemish newspaper or magazine, I’m guessing I won’t be the boss… but if I – hypothetically – become the boss of some media related thing, you can send me your résumé.
        I wouldn’t be a good boss I’m afraid. I’d eat all the good stuff in the cafeteria and do all the really cool interviews and articles myself and leave nothing fun for my employees. Haha. It’ll be like “The Devil Wears Prada”. Only the title (of the fictional book & movie of my life) would sound like “The Devil carries an audio-recorder and a pen”. Haha.

      41. No, you’d get thrown out… They go there to… waste sperm… so you’d stay immediately jobless!
        And yeah, I’m all about the money! 😀
        First you said you’d definitely hire me, now you’ll take my résumé… Not a girl-woman of your word, are you? Bad super-hero!
        And yeah, when I imagine hell it’s a place with a cafeteria with peach jellow, stale doughnuts and one-day old coffee. You’re truly the devil! 🙂

      42. Beware of what you say or I’ll even restrain from even looking at your résumé!
        (Don’t worry, I’m a pushover when it comes to things like this. You and all other people who love culture can work at my magazine. I’m a girl-woman of my word. I’ll have to think of a way to pay all these people… although just being able to work for MY magazine would be enough as a reward. But people have to eat… That is very important. I’ll hire a good cook and I’ll bake pies myself)
        O shoot, of course, they can’t waste their sperms.. which means they’ll hate me. Well, luckily this wasn’t my dreamjob! (What a sick place adult movieplaces are! Haven’t they heard of the world wide web? and doing intimate stuff in private places. Haha, the idea grosses me out)

      43. Please look at it! Now that I’m practising my Flemish… :/
        And maybe that’s why those places are in recession… Damm you, Internet! You know Tarantino started working in one of those places? And Amelie’s sweetheart too. Doing intimate things in public places has brought much joy to the world! Don’t mock it!

      44. I know! (the Tarantino & Amélie’s BF working in places like that thing, not the last thing you said, you perv).
        Ik zal er naar kijken. Als je braaf bent. Maar je mag ook in het Engels schrijven als je wil. (What did I just say?)

      45. Hahahaha. Google translate is failing me! The last sentence was translated like this: ” Furthermore’m better ear.” I guess you were saying that you’re better at hearing?

      46. Yeah, it means I pick languages up better if I hear them, instead of reading them. And god, Portuguese looks so much better!
        “aogn eap0jv p+ajvg eoa gaoj sGPIpbi goA” this was me randomly typing and it kinda looks like Flemish.
        And I thought my blog was getting a lot of success… 53 comments in one post. Oh, no… 😦

      47. No, it’s just that creepy stalker/spammer aka Girl-woman. She’s a real pain in the ass.
        What you just typed there looks like Russian to me. So no no no, no Flemish! (or Dutch as we like to call our language 😉 )
        I’m pretty sure Dutch is easier to learn than Portugese. But then again, who cares, everyone speaks English! No more comments on your immensely popular blog for today (or at least not by the spammergirl), I’m going to sleep and dream of being the boss of my own magazine and bossing people around and eating pie everyday. Bye.

      48. Hum, I doubt it. Portuguese is Latin-based, so it has a lot of big brothers. If you know any of them it’s easier.
        And I hope you had good dreams, about hiring Portuguese employees and giving them exorbitant amounts of money! 🙂

      49. But if you know English (Germanic language), Dutch will be easy as well. And who doesn’t speak English these days 😉
        But for people who speak a Romanic language Portugese will indeed be easier.
        Actually I only had nightmares about being too late for my exam and one really weird dream about a holiday on a boat.

      50. That’s what I thought… I went to Hungary and NOBODY spoke English. Guess which subject had the smaller approval rating in my course? English for the Media. Let me think very few people speak English. It makes me feel special…
        And good luck for your exam. And an advice, don’t go into any boat called “Slice of Life”.

  4. I decided I was going to give audiobooks a try this year, but for some reason I’ve done nothing to fulfill that resolution…thanks for your post. I will give them a try, soon. 🙂


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