Posted by: Phil Anderson | April 27, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Audiobooks

I’m not a big fan of audiobooks; I prefer to have the words in front of me. My oldest daughter loves them, though, and enjoys listening to her favorites—especially The Lord of the Rings—while she works.

Perhaps its because I’m not good at multi-tasking. When I try to listen while I’m doing other work I often get distracted. Either I stop what I’m doing and get caught up in what I hear, or I find that I’ve lost track of the story and need to back up to where my attention drifted.

This weekend we had a guest speaker at our church. Jason Nightingale recites large portions of Scripture, a whole book at a time, almost like an audiobook of the Bible. But unlike most audiobooks, I was fascinated and enthralled, with rapt attention, and I’ve been considering the reasons why.

Jason has a background in Christian theater, and his inflections, expressions, and gestures all add to the experience. In some ways it’s more of a performance than a recitation. And his deep, commanding voice is exactly the way I imagine the voice of God.

During part of his presentation I opened my Bible so I could follow along, but that didn’t last. It took away from this unique encounter with God’s Word. Hearing it spoken gave it a different perspective, but reading along made it familiar, more like the usual way I take it in, mundane by comparison.

Probably the main aspect of what gripped me was that I was zeroed in. I wasn’t trying to do other things at the same time. Listening was my sole focus.

So perhaps I could enjoy audiobooks more if I gave them my full attention. But then, what’s the point? Being able to accomplish other tasks while I read is part of the appeal. A less distracting activity like walking for exercise or driving a long commute might make it worthwhile. But if I have to dedicate time, I’d rather read the words for myself, at my own pace, so I can imagine the voices and sounds for myself.

What about you? Do you enjoy audiobooks? Can you do other things while you listen, and still follow the narrative of what you’re hearing? Leave a comment, please.


  1. Really liked your article. I love both ways of reading but I think that it is easier for most women to multi-task. With the possibilities of being mothers, we have to be able to think of many things at once and keep track of several individuals and/or activities. Men are usually involved in providing for the home and family, concentrating on one thing at a time. Traveling is a good time for audiobooks but I know you don’t travel as much as I do. Short jaunts do not give much time for books.

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