The Joys of Listening to Audiobooks While Reading Books

It’s official, the world of books can’t get enough audiobooks. This creates a win-win situation for publishers and bookworms. Audio sales are booming and keeping the industry afloat, while we readers get our fix of literature while doing other things like cooking, sewing, gardening, and driving, among other activities. While these activities are worthwhile, has anyone tried sitting down, listening to an audiobook while reading its printed counterpart?

Even though we love audiobooks for a plethora of reasons, sometimes our comprehension suffers when we associate them with multitasking. Admit it. I’m even guilty of it. When I listen to an audiobook while doing something else, my mind sometimes wanders and I lose focus. This usually happens when I start a new audiobook, when the scenes are extremely slow, and when the audiobook is disappointing. I even have to rewind about 30 seconds to figure out the parts I missed. But not anymore.

A Eureka moment

Like everyone else, I like to listen to a good story while finishing household chores. But once, I ticked off my to-do list too quickly. So I decided to turn on my Kindle Paperwhite to read with the narrator. Guess what, it was a eureka moment for me. After weeks of work, I think it made my reading comprehension easier and gave me a better understanding of the story.

This may seem counterproductive. After all, audiobooks and multitasking make a great pair. But you don’t always have to multitask. You can do whatever you want while listening to audiobooks. You can watch nothing and enjoy how the narrator tells the story, or you can get that paperback or e-book you borrowed from the library to guide you. Believe me! You will enjoy the book even more.

For someone whose attention span decreases while reading (I get distracted when there’s too much noise), it keeps me focused on the plot. It reminds me better of who did what to whom. It also blocks out noise that I would otherwise hear when only reading the printed book.

The joys of listening to audiobooks while reading books extend beyond the narrative plot.

Not just for fun

For those studying English as a second language, listening while following the text helps them remember correct pronunciation, rhythm, and other nuances of the language. It’s the same for learning English by watching TV series, except it’s much cooler. For regular or occasional readers like us, it also brings a lot to the table. I love to read science fiction and fantasy. But sometimes there are a lot of proper names or terminologies in the book that can have weird pronunciations. Luckily, I’m getting everything right these days, thanks to the help of narrators.

Literary fiction is also something to be reckoned with. Sometimes the prose is so clever that I pause for a moment to absorb it. Fortunately, literary fiction titles now have audio equivalents, making them less difficult to read.

Just a warning

While all of this is good, this practice may not be helpful for some.

I developed an addiction to this habit. Nowadays, it’s impossible to get me to read anything without listening to its audiobook version and vice versa. It’s now part of the deal and one of my criteria when looking for new books to read. No audiobook version? So forget it. I know that sounds silly and dismissive, but that’s how I managed to squeeze my busy reading schedule and complicated reading life into my reading life.


In our time when printed books and e-books are still against audio books, listening while reading, or vice versa, keeps us out of trouble. You don’t have to choose one. You can have the best of both worlds.

About Marcia G. Hussain

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