A terribly sad thing happened on my way in to work this fine morning: I finally finished Jim Butcher’s Turn Coat. At 7:18AM CST I caught up with the rest of the world and now have to wait until April until I can get another Harry Dresden fix.
In explaining the “Dresden Files” books to many of my friends, however, I came across an interesting conundrum related to our now ever-connected, always-on-the-move society that drastically affects storytelling and the written word: what is “reading” a book?
You see, I have a thirty minute commute to and from work each day. For the past several years I’ve spent most of those drives listening to audio books. In fact, that’s how I “read” nine of the eleven current Dresden books.
This has brought up quite the discussion with acquaintances about whether listening to an audiobook constitutes actually “reading” that book?
First things first, I want to eliminate a glaring variable from the argument: abridged audiobooks are right out. In my opinion, abridged audiobooks should be all shot into the sun and the creators shamed. If I want and abridged version of the story, I’ll wait for the damn movie. Problem settled? Back to main discussion.
It is my belief that the concept of “reading” a book needs a fundamental change in definition. “Reading” alone, in these “New Media” times is insufficient to describe the intake of a story or defined knowledge. I propose that “reading” become a subset of a more standard term of “consumption” of a written work. I understand that it is mostly an argument of semiotics, but defining the “consumption” of a book as either reading or listening (or whatever other method you take in knowledge) provides a broader allowance for the user experience.
At any given time, I am almost always listening to a book and reading at least one book. That doesn’t even take into account the five to ten comic books I read each day. All of these efforts I consider “reading.” If I learned braille and figured out a way to taste the written word, I’d have just about all bases covered.
Join me next time when I take up Hemingway as interpretive dance.