A couple of the benefits of books you read that are in fact read to you

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2014/02/10 07:01 -08:00, original URI: http://sortingtherestallout.blogspot.com/2014/02/a-couple-of-benefits-of-books-you-read.html

In my post the other day, I talked about the way that all of my reading habits have been changed by using Audible Books via their App on my Nokia Lumia 1520 running Windows Phone 8.

And I couldn't be happier, truth be told!

Right now as I type this, I am listening to (and thusly re-reading!) "The Rainmaker" by John Grisham (read by Frank Muller), a book which helps remind me why although I'm a big fan of Audible Books, I'm such a huge fan of movies based on books.

That movie was okay, yes. But it is hard to compete with the almost 17 hour Unabridged Audible Book by using a less than two hours Hollywood movie.

The book is almost entirely in Rudy Baylor's head. And not even famous actors achieving excellent performances can really compete with that.

In the end, the main reason the movies do so well is something that authors like John Grisham will readily admit -- comparably few people both see the movie AND read the book.

And all the ones who do will say (even if they liked the movie) that the book was better.

Nor can I claim that this is due to nothing beyond coincidence. The book before this one from Audible was a re-reading of "Presumed Innocent" by Scott Turow (read by Edward Herrmann). In both cases, this one with over fifteen and a half hours of unabridged novel versus another ~2 hour movie, the book, will once again win.

My next book would further prove the point -- friend and colleague Mark Russinovich's "Zero Day" (an Audible book read by Johnny Heller), which at trim over nine and a half hours will be the thinnest proof this week that the book is always better (though that last book currently has no movie to prove the larger point again).

I am beginning to believe that Orson Scott Card had a point when he talked about the irony of people telling him that his book (Ender's Game) was so good that it ought to be a movie.

The book will (almost always) be better!

Almost subconsciously I am reminded of the ultimate example of a book that can't be done properly by a movie (and ultimately wasn't) -- the homicidal car Christine by Stephen King. Another book almost entirely written from the point of view of the car makes no sense whatsoever as a movie; I didn't even bother trying the Audible version of that one!

I will of course mention that Amazon got to charge me once more for the Audible version of most of the books I mentioned here....

One of the other problems with lots of book reading is that over time your passive vocabulary gets much, much bigger.

If you look at the Wikipedia article about Vocabulary it talks about the process a word routinely goes through in the journey from "Huh?" to fluent understanding:

  1. Never encountered the word.
  2. Heard the word, but cannot define it.
  3. Recognize the word due to context or tone of voice.
  4. Able to use the word and understand the general and/or intended meaning, but cannot  with the word – its use and definition.
  5. Fluent with the word – its use and definition.
Now obviously moving into the world of "passive vocabulary" will alter the process.

The article explicitly distinguishes it by calling it "reading vocabulary" outright. Think of it the same way, though.

In my own past, when reading the book "Gorky Park" by Martin Cruz Smith (the later Audible Books version read by Henry Strozier). I tripped over the word "ennui", which my passive or reading vocabulary called "enn-you-eye" even though I was aware of the word pronounced "ahn-wee" (even though I had no conscious idea how it is spelled) That kind of problem would never happen with an almost fifteen hour Audible book!

(In contrast, the less than two hour movie doesn't even include the scene in question.)

Which is not to say that there are never mistakes in Audible Books. In Gorky Park, Henry Strozier pronounces the last name of one of the murder victims (Davidova, as in Valeria Davidova) with the emphasis on the "do" rather than the way the movie and my Russian home health care assistant placed it (on the "vi").

Though I don't necessarily trust movies to always get it right, I do trust my Russian home health care assistant and how she would pronounce it! ;-)

But that kind of thing is relatively uncommon, and happens much less often than mistakes like mine with ennui.

At the same time, I really enjoy "reading" this way, which for me now feels like the only way to read, to enjoy a book truly.

You may not agree, and that is okay, too. I know what I love. What you love is allowed to be different....

I realize by not following every word in a reader like the Kindle leaves me vulnerable to the same kinds of passive vocabulary error that I had years ago with "ennui" but I don't mind. I want to enjoy the books I read and re-read, not merely treat them as vocabulary stretching exercises and nothing more. Don't you feel the very same way? ;-)

# Muzer on February 11, 2014 at 6:31 AM:

For a long time when I was much younger, despite knowing the word "mediocre", when reading it written down I always pronounced it "medicore" in my head and naturally assumed it was a different word.

# M. Scott Kaplan on February 11, 2014 at 6:59 AM:

Gotta love that passive vocabulary!

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