Just got home from a fun weekend in San Diego, and this topic came up.
I listen to Audio books. This started somewhat recently (less than a year ago) when a coworker recommended a series to me to help with the stress of a longer commute. She recommended The Berrybender Narratives by Larry McMurtry. It's the type of book I would have never picked out for myself, but I very much enjoyed it. She brought me each of the four books on CD over the course of a few months and it did help my commute. I'd listened to one book on CD before with Gavin in the car, "The Watcher" by Dean Koontz (mostly while camping, btw, which was creepy), but other than that I'd never thought of listening to books on CD.
I started checking out books on CD from the library and began listening to books almost exclusively while driving. The selection was somewhat limited, but I figured they had enough to keep me busy for a while. When Gavin and I were getting ready to go to Hawaii, I decided to rip one of the books to my iPod (I'll admit, it was a Danielle Steel novel, I figured it was worth at least trying to read one of her books, plus what better time than a romantic vacation!). Ripping them to my iPod proved less easy than I'd hoped as the tracks were constantly jumping out of order and were often not titled correctly. Not to mention that I didn't immediately think to exclude them from shuffly, making my shuffle useless for the trip. As for the ethicacy (is that a word even?) of ripping the library CD, I decided it was fine as long as I kept the book only as long as I had it checked out...
While at the library one day, I saw they now had audiobooks available for checkout and download online. This has been amazing. I couldn't tell you exactly how many books I've listened to since I found out about this option, but I think I average around 2 per week, depending on the length (it took me more than two weeks to get through Atlas Shrugged, it wasn't a very easy listen). Basically now, I can easily check out, transfer to my iPod and listen to TONS of books I would never ever have time to read. Not to mention that since they are now on my iPod, I am not required to idle in my driveway while listening to the end of a particularly exciting section/chapter.
Gavin has a somewhat strong opinion, it seems, that listening doesn't count as 'reading' the book. I see some merit in this. I'm sure there are benefits to reading that you lose with audiobooks (don't harass me with that feel of the book nonsense, though, I hate the feel of paper). Listening certainly isn't going to help my spelling, for example. But as a result of audiobooks I'm able to turn my commute into an entertaining or informative time (depending on the book) and can justify the time required to read a Danielle Steel novel, for example, despite that my spare time is better spent studying for my PE, playing with my dog, etc etc. I have also found that some readers are impossible to listen to. Therefore, it is likely that the quality of the reader impacts my opinion of the book/story much more than I realize.
I've decided I may start writting my opinions on some of these books in this blog. So for future reference, I fully intend to state that I recently 'read' a particular book when it is quite likely I actually listened to it.