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Books

Are Audiobooks Worth It? (Explained & Solved!)

Jamey Muller
Updated: July 6, 2022
6 min read

Finding the opportunity to read can be quite a challenge, even for those who love books. For this reason, listening to audiobooks has become a convenient alternative to traditional reading.

But are audiobooks really worth it? Should you stick to your trusty hardcovers and paperbacks? 

Here’s if Audiobooks Are Worth It:

Audiobooks are an excellent source of entertainment, allowing you to indulge in content anytime and anywhere. Studies have proven that they are good for the brain, helping boost comprehension and vocabulary. Audiobooks are also outstanding aids in improving pronunciation and fluency.

What Are the Benefits of Audiobooks?

Audiobooks offer tons of benefits. These include enhancing your reading comprehension, expanding vocabulary, and boosting your imagination.

Studies have revealed that listening to audiobooks bolsters your word recognition ability and develop your internal lexicon.

It also raises the same learning opportunities as second-language learners hear and process new words. 

When you listen to audiobooks, the context clues and intonations presented help you better comprehend the meaning and application of specific words.

Listening also aids in assigning more profound meaning to phrases.

When you read, a good portion of your attention is focused on filling in the gaps alluding to aspects not incorporated in a story – sounds and voices, among others. 

This is needed for your brain to create a complete picture.

In comparison, listening provides all these facets, allowing you to focus on other essential aspects, such as attaching deeper meaning to what you hear.

Since you cannot revisit audiobooks as quickly as when you read books, your brain is also forced to understand phases more quickly. This means you can extract more profound meanings just as fast.

Listening to audiobooks can improve your attention span and focus. Going back to a specific part can be burdensome if you get distracted.

Audiobooks also help boost your imagination. 

According to studies, the human brain creates meaningful imagery more from listening to a story than from reading it in a traditional format.

Listening allows the visual processes in your brain to kick in. This helps you better imagine a story, primarily when supplied with vivid descriptions and unforgettable characters.

Studies have also shown that you create a keener emotional engagement with the story when you listen than when you read it conventionally.

As you listen, your brain generates more content to supply what is missing, including real sentiments, inciting a more emotional response.

Audiobooks present a welcome alternative for those who struggle with the physical act of reading.

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The dyslexic, the visually impaired, and anyone who finds reading difficult may retain more from listening to audiobooks since there is no additional effort involved in reading words.

They can use mental resources that they would have otherwise used for memory and comprehension.

Audiobooks are also proven to improve articulation and pronunciation. 

By taking note of the narrator's speed in reading, pauses, and stresses, you can improve your fluency and command of language.

You can also develop your critical listening skills. For instance, you exercise sound judgment when examining conflicts in story plots.

Another benefit of listening to audiobooks is improved memory. 

You are compelled to remember names, places, sequence of events, and other important information without the printed words to fall back to.

The more you read audiobooks, the more exercise you provide your brain to remember and retain details.

Finally, listening to audiobooks can bolster your mental health. Just like traditional reading, it can calm the mind and reduce stress.

Is Listening to Audiobooks as Good as Reading?

To some degree, yes. As audiobooks become more popular, it begs the question of whether or not it offers the same benefits as old-fashioned reading.

It has been well-documented that reading has been beneficial to your cognitive health. 

Reading activates different areas in your brain and keeps your mind sharp. It is a cognitive task that requires a higher level of processing, tapping on language comprehension, memory, and visual processing.

Reading can strengthen your communicative skills and improve reasoning, vocabulary, and concentration with consistent practice.

It has also been proven to encourage emotional intelligence and social perception.

Reading books is one of the best hobbies you can adopt, but audiobooks can be an excellent alternative if you want to read and multitask simultaneously.

Both reading and listening follow the same procedure for brain function. To comprehend content, your brain works to connect the dots and attempts to forecast what will happen next.

The difference lies in how your brain processes the information you receive from reading and listening.

Studies have revealed that when reading, your left brain is activated. This side of your cerebrum is associated with language processing.

On the other hand, when you listen to an audiobook, both your left and right brain are stimulated so you can process both speech and acoustics.

That being said, reading and listening utilize multiple brain networks. Semantic information processing is involved, whether the input is visual or audio.

Listening to an audiobook has an advantage over traditional reading when developing greater empathy.

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According to a study, listening to stories charged with feelings engages the emotional circuits in your brain, leading to deeper processing of the narrative.

This causes the story to come alive and makes you enjoy the material more.

In terms of retaining information, reading is better than listening. 

Letting your mind occasionally wander when reading or listening to a text is normal, but with reading, it is easier to go back and restart at the point where you zoned out.

Reading also offers the advantage of effortless backtracking and reexamining of complicated texts. 

The brief pauses when you turn a book page also give your brain the respite to savor and store the information you just processed.

With listening, this is not as simple. There may also be some structural snags that inhibit you from learning from audiobooks.

Traditional books typically include cues to indicate the importance of content, like bolded words or boxed information. 

These cues are not as easily emphasized in audio materials.

You cannot highlight or underline essential data in audio-based media as you do in print.

Even the multitasking advantage associated with audiobooks may not be a boon. According to a study, learning is not as good when you try doing two things all at once.

Anything that can take up your attention may impede learning, even those activities you can perform on autopilot.

If you are driving when listening to audiobooks, choosing complex content to absorb will not be productive as you expect.

No matter, reading physical books or listening to audio-versions does something good for your brain.

Whether you acquired information through listening or reading a written text. Your mind will process it all the same.

It all depends on what kind of content you absorbed if it requires a lower or higher level of cognitive processing.

Reading is better suited than listening with complex materials because this type of learning requires more engagement.

Reading requires commitment because the words on the pages are not going to read themselves. If you are not actively taking in the written material, you will not make any progress.

This dedication to understanding even the littlest content is important when studying technical subjects.

Conversely, an audiobook can make progress with or without your participation. Even when you tune it out, the narration will continue.

If you are listening to a textbook for school or critical data on your work, your lack of attention will be detrimental to your memory retention.

Meanwhile, audiobooks are excellent when listening to fiction and other entertaining content. 

The narrator's presence in audiobooks undeniably builds a whole new dynamic, making the story more fun and exciting.

When you listen to comedy or action-packed stories, you want the extra vigor that the narration can impart to make the experience more worthwhile.

In the end, traditional books and audiobooks are fundamentally different mediums. Which one you utilize should depend on the time you are willing to spend and what you aim to get out of it.

You are not cheating yourself if you listen to audiobooks. It may be the better option for you based on the content you are about to devour.

If audio-based material opens new ideas and a new world for you, that is all that counts.

Sources:

Chirp: Are Audiobooks Good for the Brain?
Well + Good: Reading Versus Listening
SAGE Journals

Written by
Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.
Have any questions? Write us a message.
Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.