Some Books Are Better Heard: A Case for Audiobooks
For reasons I've never even come close to understanding, there are some book lovers who have serious beef with alternative forms of reading, namely audiobooks. They say it's not reading, it's listening. Semantics aside, I'd be willing to bet the same people who bash audiobooks have probably had someone read something aloud to them before and they still count themselves as having read the thing.
I'm going to take things a bit further. What if some books really are better heard aloud?
I know I would've never picked up a paper copy of Moby Dick. I mean, never. I know it has a dedicated audience, but what made me decide to read it was the fact that I could get it on audio. Not only that, the narrator was incredible and made the story come alive in a way I don't think my brain would've been able to do for that particular text. What can I say? Classics can get a little stuffy.
Even better than that, I think anyone who has a gripe with the existence of audiobooks just hasn't heard Toni Morrison narrate one of her own novels. I certainly don't all authors should read their own work, but Toni Morrison has a gift for words both written and spoken. I'd read The Bluest Eye in print, but I'm currently listening to her book Home, and I never intend on reading any of her books that aren't on audio again. Her voice is rapturous and there's no amount of elitist audiobook hate that's going to make me change my mind.
The bottom line is this: If reading in a different format opens someone up to reading a book s/he would've otherwise never tried, that's a reason to celebrate, not get all book purist on them.
Frankly, I kind of liken book purists to people that have issues with gay marriage. Reading, like marriage, is something that's evolved over the centuries and even the most elitist readers benefit from these evolutions. I mean, you typically don't see people reading handwritten, hand-bound books anymore--there's a reason for that. And reading, like marriage, is one of those things that if you don't like the way someone else does it, than simply do it the way you prefer and mind your own damn business. Then everyone's happy!
Meanwhile, I'll be listening to an enthralling audiobook, so I won't be able to hear the haters anyway.