Whether listening to an audiobook counts as reading is a big point of contention within the book community. I wanted to throw in my 2 pence as someone who has days when I rely on audiobooks.
I have a chronic illness called Functional Neurological Disorder that can leave me in bed for full days, barely able to process full sentences or open my eyes. As you can imagine, days like these aren’t the best; enter an audiobook. On my worst days my only saving grace can be a good audiobook.
I can’t concentrate on reading or even hold a book sometimes, but I can’t keep my eyes open long enough to watch tv. This leaves no better solution than an audiobook. Audiobooks distracts me from any chronic pain, but require next to no energy from me. I love to read more than anything else, it’s my favourite thing to do, and being able to when I am my most ill means everything. Audiobooks can be the only way for me to pass the time.
When someone says that an audiobook doesn’t count they are taking away something that gets me through my worst health days. They are diminishing what little I can do on and undermining my choice to read in whatever way best suits my needs.
The refusal of some people to recognise audiobooks as reading is a fundamentally ableist belief. It is excluding people by saying that if they struggle to read a physical book they aren’t reading. Telling people with learning disabilities that audiobooks don’t count is nothing but gatekeeping. They may have struggled with reading for years and found audiobooks to be their only option.
An able-bodied person may not realise just how heavy a book can be, but sometimes even a kindle can be too much. I regularly experience a tremor in my hands and holding a book simply isn’t an option, but that doesn’t need to stop me reading.
It should not matter what your personal capabilities are, you can still read if you want to. Audiobooks are just another way for more people to find joy in books and that’s never a bad thing.