The Podcast | Let Us Tell You A Story

Along with having over 60,000 audiobooks to choose from at, we now bring you a weekly show to give you the stories behind the books. Your hosts, The Real Brian and Addy, interview your favorite authors, narrators, audiobook lovers and keep you in the loop of what’s hot. Never miss an episode by subscribing to the show and download the free app at today!
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The Podcast | Let Us Tell You A Story

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Nov 10, 2015


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From Tamara Ireland Stone to Fred Godsmark to Tucker Max, we’ve had a lot of authors and audiobook business persons featured on the podcast, so this week we get back to the receiving end of audiobooks. Welcome business coach and audiobook lover Ellory Wells to the discussion! Ellory lends us his perspective on the listening experience and gives us a lot of recommendations for audiobooks to explore.

The Experience

We’ve discussed on the podcast before the differences between listening to an audiobook for entertainment purposes versus listening to an audiobook for reasons of time constraints or circumstance. It is much easier, and safer, to listen to an audiobook while stuck in traffic, for example, than reading a hardcover book! If the purpose we have to listen to an audiobook is entertainment, then the narrator contributes a great deal to that experience.

The book series that Ellory is currently reading, Undying Mercenaries written by B. V. Larson, keeps him engaged largely because of the narrator, Mark Boyett. Earth is visited by visitors from another galaxy in this book series, and instead of being exterminated, mankind joins with their visitors and go on adventures in space. Ellory says they’re easy reads, but are engaging and he enjoys the way Mark Boyett brings the characters to life. The entertainment value is high.

The same goes for The Martian, a book and audiobook we’ve discussed previously on this podcast, and one that continues to receive good reviews. The narrator for The Martian does a fantastic job of conveying Mark Watney’s, the main character, personality. Heavily sardonic, but an articulate intellectual, who has been well trained to survive in circumstances that normal people do not face. The narrator brings charm to Watney’s voice and a deep emotional connection with the man living alone on Mars.

Is It Cheating to Listen?

Does the method of consumption contribute to the legitimacy of an experience? Do we lose something by listening to, rather than reading, a book? This is one of the questions we ask Ellory, and his response is very interesting! We’re going to let you listen to the podcast to hear his perspective, but in the meantime, let’s take another look at this concept.

It should come as no surprise that in our modern, 21st-century culture, scientists have explored the differences of effects between reading and listening to books when it comes to how the brain processes and absorbs information. Researchers have done studies for decades about listening comprehension versus reading comprehension and their correlation to different personalities and different learning styles. But even through all of this research there seems to be inconclusive evidence that a person absorbs or understands better either through reading or listening.

A well-known phrase, coined by Marshall McLuhan in his 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, says this: “the medium is the message.” One of his first objectives is to demonstrate how the content of a particular medium is also a medium. In the case of audiobooks, if we were to ask what the content of an audiobook is, the answer might be “book”, whereas we’d say the content of a book is “the written word”.

The question of whether it is cheating to listen to a book becomes a little different in this context because there is a degree of separation between the written word and the way it is absorbed. If scientists can’t find conclusive proof that we, as humans, understand better through reading or listening, then it’s difficult to say that listening is straight up cheating. There is certainly something to be gained by various learning styles from listening to audiobooks, but it can also neither be a blanket statement.

In Understanding Media, McLuhan argues that a medium translates content. While reading a book, the written word translates the story for our brains to absorb; while listening to an audiobook, the narrator translates the story for our brains to absorb. In both cases, our brains still achieve direct access to the story; our mind’s eye must still create the story in our imaginations or our intellect must process the information for application.

Is it cheating to listen to audiobooks? Science and social theory may never be able to give us a direct answer to that question. Perhaps that question is tied into a deeper social issue of the modern age as we witness other mediums fade into the category of obsolete technology. Whether we use technology as an excuse or a crutch to avoid a tedious task is also called into question. In the end, we love audiobooks for the similar reason we love the theater, or a film, or a rock concert: it is another medium through which we can absorb, learn, grow and be entertained.

Get In Touch!

As always, we would love to hear what you are currently listening to and what is in your queue! Send us an email or hit us up on Twitter. And while you’re at it, send Ellory a quick thank-you for talking with us this week!

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