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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Round Three: Cardturner v Keeper

Match: The Cardturner v. Keeper

Judge: Grace Lin

Listen to this — no, really! LISTEN.

Lin both read and listened to the two books in this round, The Cardturner and Keeper.

Lin, on those differences: “To save time, I listened to many of them on audio book while I worked on illustrations or commuted. One of the first audio books I listened to was Keeper. I have to admit, the audio book did not enamor me and I stopped listening half way though.” Yet, later when reading: “I knew I had to give the book another chance. So, with physical book in hand, I began to read. And what a difference! When I read the book, suddenly the magic became apparent.”

And, this: “I also listened to The Cardturner before reading the physical book. This, I found quite enjoyable, especially as there is a hilarious foghorn noise in place of the whale image (which is in the physical book) to warn of a bridge information dump. The Cardturner is a very, very enjoyable book. Strangely, I found myself liking the audio version just a tad more. Knowing nothing of bridge, I found it easier explained through the audio narrator than seeing the diagrams in the book. However, even while reading the physical book, I didn’t feel lost in any of the explanations and I still found myself caught up in the excitement of the game.”

One reading experience worked for Lin; one did not. Sometimes, the opposite can be true — the audio can be a more meaningful experience than reading.

Does listening to a book count as reading? Can you listen to a book for a school assignment, or for book club? I say “yes,” but it is also true that listening to a book is different from reading the print version. Right now, having read White Cat by Holly Black, on Angie Manfredi’s recommendation I am listening to the audiobook. They are two different reading experiences. For this reason, whether or not listening to a book counts when one is on a book award committee is a point of debate — is the book not working because of the narrator, not the text? Does the book work because the narration is so compelling it masks flaws in the text? One answer is to do what Lin did: experience the book in both formats.

Can a reader overcome a so-so audio experience?

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. I’ve listened to some books that made me say, “I think I’d like this better if I was actually reading it,” and other books that were read so well that I DID wonder if I’d love the book nearly so much if I wasn’t listening to it. Probably, if you are judging an award, you really ought to read it on paper. And kids who are just learning how to read (ie decode written language) can’t get away with JUST listening if it’s a school assignment. But otherwise, I count listening as reading it, too.

  2. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    I listened to CARTER FINALLY GETS IT, and the narrator was just so terrific. Would I have loved the book, and Carter, if I wasn’t listening to him?

    And good point that there are other reasons for reading print than enjoying a story; building written/reading literacy skills, as you point out.

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