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How to "Read" an Audio Book (120/365)

The audio book critics have come out of the woodwork. "It's not real reading."

A longtime voracious reader, I'm troubled, offended, at the notion that this is true. To quiet the critics, we audio book readers have got some work to do. We've got to engage with audio books like we do paper books. We've got to stick together. And we've got to take audio book reading to the next level. While this skill set takes time and effort, the rewards are bountiful. Why do people get stuck on the idea that audio book reading isn't reading?

Some "readers" don't understand what "reading" means.

Reading is more than visiting the library, turning pages, and moving onto the next books.

  • Reading is living an author's experience through their words and stories.

  • Reading is applying your life experiences through the author's stories.

  • Reading is making future plans, based on the experiences of others.

  • learning.

There is nothing quite like the feel and smell of a paper book. Nothing compares to the escape to another world of words and ideas created and generously shared. Nothing beats sprawling in a hammock or getting cozy by a warm fire, with a good book in hand. But sometimes, these days especially, those opportunities are tough to come by. Is the only solution to stop reading? To say how much you miss reading until "life slows down"?

If you're feeling this way (like I sometimes do), there's a great way to take it easy on yourself.

The answer? Read an audio book. And don't feel bad about it, not one bit.

Step 1: Annotate what you "read".

When I read a paper book, I mark it up. I dog ear pages. I live...inside the book I'm reading. This is possible in an audio book as well. Having just completed The Storyteller by Dave Grohl (his story, told in his words, using his voice), I was able to bookmark sections of the story that resonated. Listening to the story on my daily commute afforded me opportunities to re-listen to the bookmarked sections before diving into the next section. This primed my reading brain, setting my listening habit in place, only to be "spoke to" by Dave, himself.

Step 2: Talk the talk.

Most audio book "readers" keep it to themselves. For whatever reason, they hesitate when presented with the chance to share what they're "reading" with a paper book reader. Put yourself out there as a proud audio book reader by talking the talk. Hear a memorable quote or a surprising anecdote? Share it with a paper book reader. And, like in the Grohl book where he tells a story with meaning and a memorable tone, or transitions to sections using guitar rifts, or closes the book with a nugget for listeners, share this with someone. You just don't get the same sensation imagining a young Grohl riffing on Rush's Tom Sawyer to his surprised dentist, drumming with his teeth and tongue.

Step 3: Walk the walk.

By now, hopefully, you realize that reading, whether by flipping paper pages, or by listening to an author or skilled narrator share the magical words of an author, are both meaningful. The point is to learn. So on the days that allow you to visit the local library or indie bookstore, or the days that you only have your otherwise mundane, traffic laden commute to look forward to, either case presents the chance to have a book in your life. Whether taking a walk in another's shoes, reflecting on your own experiences through those of another, or making neural connections, that lead to plans, that result in high impact learning, reading is reading. So grab a book, download a book, or in some cases, do both.

(Kindle's a whole other story.)

Just kidding. Just read.

Click here to visit the Learning Leadership 365 site, where you may read all posts I've written.


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