The past few days, I did something I’ve never done before (glad to know there are still some new things out there for me; if I ever get bored, I’ll know it’s time to leave the material world). I read a book – I mean read, looked at the words on the page – that I had already ‘read’ as an audio book several months prior. Most of the time, when I read a book, I read an actual, physical, hold-in-my-hand, made-from-tree pulp book, but this time I read it on my phone (the only option, but a discussion for another day).                     

The reason I re-read the book is because this was my choice for Book Club and frankly, I couldn’t remember many of the details. I loved the book, but that doesn’t mean I remembered any of the fine points so I could speak to them. (When it’s your book choice, the assumption is that you will lead the discussion. Being a recently retired teacher, it’s in my blood to be prepared for these sorts of things. I couldn’t go in cold.)

I wasn’t prepared to read the entire book again. In truth, I did scan over some of the details for the sake of time. Also, I was in a time crunch since the library app told me that I had 2 hours in which to return it, non-renewable, people waiting. Let me just say that this is the fastest I have ever read a book (it helped that I had heard the story before. But it was actually fun, having to read this way, racing the clock. It really pushed me, not only to read more quickly, but to stay with it and stay focused, because I was going to lose it soon. It was like being in a contest. (Since I couldn’t bookmark the pages because I wouldn’t have the book for Book Club, I took screen shots and uploaded them to Photos for later use). 

Also, It is almost 500 pages. (I apologize to my cronies in advance for those of you who thought it was too long.) Anyway, I loved the book in the first place, and I loved it in the 2nd place. But this was an entirely different experience. As I read, I realized that I had missed pieces of it while listening to the audio book. My mind always drifts. It goes in and out of paying attention. 

Also, listening to voices is different from reading with your eyes and only hearing the voice in your own head. I enjoy both experiences, but of course, only if the narrator is good. I have stopped listening to audiobooks where I didn’t like the sound of the narrator’s voice. But when they’re good, it’s awesome. They do different voices and accents. They have to read it as if they are actors in a play. When I read stories to my students, I would do the same. That’s what makes audio books fun. Also, I get a lot more ‘reading’ in this way since I can cook, drive, or make art while I listen. 

There are benefits for the brain to both reading and listening,  but this is about what I experienced, not what I researched afterwards. I found that when I was listening to the book, one of the reasons I missed information was not only because I lost my place multiple times, but because my ability to pay attention was much more focused when I was reading. Suddenly, I was noticing things for the first time, because I had to process the information in my own brain. I think I appreciated the written word more, because it was as if I was really connecting to the material. I am a very visual person, meaning that I like to look at things and observe them. Visual / spatial is also one of my strongest learning intelligences  Interview with Howard Bloom about Multiple intelligences  and   Multiple Intelligence Chart – explained, so when I can see something, I am better able to understand it. It slows me down and I have to think about it. It’s an interactive experience, not a passive one like listening. 

Also, I need relevance. For instance, if you tell me about someone you know or something you did, I’ll forget about it until I ‘see’ it, feel it, experience it for myself. I’ve always been a poor listener, which is ironic since I was a teacher for many years. Thus, reading the book was a more visceral experience for me. 

I also enjoyed reading it after having listened to it, because that gave me more depth to the story. Both reading and listening to the book gave me completely different experiences of the same story, both having merit. This is why I don’t always agree with people every time they assume that a book is always better than the movie of the same title. There are times when a movie is just awful, but not because the book was better. A movie is a completely different medium and should not actually be compared to a book. They both execute different elements of a story, and when done properly, they should stand on their own merit. Much of the time, the book is a perfect way to augment your knowledge and background of the story. Whether you prefer one medium over the other is your own personal preference. If it’s a good story, I like experiencing both, and hope that both the movie and the book are done well. 

Listening to a book versus reading the book both have their merits. With each, the content and the words of the story are not changing; they are identical. It is the medium that is different. Reading the book this week after listening to it was really fun because each was a unique experience that gave me a different perspective on the same story. I highly recommend both. 

Fun Note: read and read are homonyms because they share the same spelling and sound, but have different meanings. 

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