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I am going to be biased on this topic because of how I love audio books a whole lot, but also, I think it's ludicrous to place value judgements on things because they are marginally different.
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Good morning John, 

I love audiobooks- like I love ‘em a lot and not in that ‘oh well I don’t have that much time to read anymore and so I mostly listen just listen to audiobooks because that’s better than reading at all’ kind of way.No, I love them on their own, as a medium, I find them wonderful.

I like book book reading as well: I love cascading into the story, into this physical object that has all these marks on a page that turn into this story in my mind.There’s nothing in the world like that.

But, there’s also nothing in the world like being told a story: that’s the oldest thing there is. That and, like, maybe music, I think, is like what made us humans. And maybe like music and stories at the same time- is every song a story?- think about it and get back to me.

There’s been a fair amount of talk about whether listening to an audiobook counts as reading or if it’s like cheating. These conversations to me seem to be based on two different things:

1) One- like, scientifically, psychologically, is it the same?- no, like subjectively I can say that it’s not the same; a narrator of an audiobook makes a bunch of decisions for me before the information gets to my brain. I might be making some of those decisions differently so I think the story is, in some ways, slightly different when it’s being read to me.

And it seems like retention is measurably better on average when read rather than when being read to but that’s on average and it’s actually different from person to person.

This to me doesn’t seem like a judgment of better or worse, it seems like it’s marginally different- like not tremendously but somewhat different.

2) The second place that this conversation comes from though is, I think, from people who have a lot of pride in their identity as a reader or as a reader of a lot of books; some people love reading lots of books and they see that as part of what makes them valuable and exceptional.

And I think those people are kinda just saying like“Part of why I’m proud of myself is that I read a lot of books and the fact that somebody got through a lot of books in audio form isn’t the same as the thing I’m proud of.”. 

A lot of people push back against this as like exclusionary but, like, all forms of exceptionality are exclusionary. We have a really hard time as humans figuring out why we matter and there are much worse ways to find pride than the length of your book list.

But, I’m never gonna be one of those people who reads a lot of books in a year. I’m mildly dyslexic: according to this Staples.com reading test, I read slower than the average 8th grader but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love reading- I totally do.

And it doesn’t mean that audiobooks are a replacement for books for me; I like audiobooks as a way to enjoy a story. To me, media is about, like, enjoying being a human and loving having a good story told to me by a good story teller is probably something that I have in common with every single one of my human ancestors and that’s pretty cool.

And it’s part of why I pushed pretty hard for our new year of Life’s Library to have an audiobook option- so now you can be a part of this community of readers all consuming the same stuff and connecting about it. And when you sign up, you can choose the audio version with digital perks or with physical perks and every time we start a new book, you’ll get a code emailed to you. You click on that code and into your Libro fm account will arrive the new book. 

I’m curating a month of this year’s Life’s Library. I chose a book that I have read both in book form and in audio form so I know it’s good in both ways. 

We decided to do this with Libro.fm because they are just great. You don’t have to be a paying member of Libro fm to get your book but you can be and if you are, you get to choose which book store you would like to order your audiobooks from so you can support book stores in your community. And, of course, just like with regular books, you get to keep your audio book even if you cancel your Life’s Library subscription.

So join Life’s Library- there’s a link in the description or you could just click right there. I had to put a video here because YouTube doesn’t let us link to anything unless we also link to a video. I don’t know why, I find it annoying. 

John, I’ll see you on Tuesday .