Earbuds or Paperbacks: All’s Fair in Love & Reading

Join the debate on audio vs. physical books. Whether you’re team earbud or team paperback, it’s the story that counts. No snobs allowed!

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

Stephen King

In the left corner… weighing in at a few ounces (or several pounds if it’s a Tolstoy), we have the traditional, the classic, the ever-so-tactile… Physical Book!

And in the right corner… weighing, well, virtually nothing, and often accompanied by the soothing tones of Stephen Fry or the entrancing voice of Scarlett Johansson, we have the modern marvel… the Audio Book!

Now, I’ve been to a few dinner parties—okay, maybe they were more like Thai Food takeout sprawled out in front of the glow of the TV, but let’s not get bogged down in details. At these “soirees,” the topic of books often comes up. And by “often,” I mean whenever I steer the conversation that way after a few glasses of wine have made their way into the mix.

“I just finished reading ‘War and Peace,'” someone might say, puffing out their chest with pride.

“Oh? I just listened to it,” another responds, a tad defensively, earbuds dangling from their pocket.

A hush falls over the room.

The guacamole goes uneaten.

The tension… is palpable.

Does listening to a book “count” as reading it?

Let’s get one thing straight: Of course it does, you literary snob.

Imagine telling Beethoven—yes, the deaf one—that he didn’t really “experience” music. Or telling your grandmother that her audiobook romance novels (you know, the ones with the shirtless cowboys) aren’t “real” books. The horror!

Stories can be enjoyed in many ways. That’s one of the things that makes them beautiful.

Some people love the feel of paper, the rustle of turning pages, and the nostalgic smell of old books (even if it’s just mildew). Others prefer to savor tales while going for a walk, cooking a meal, or while pretending to listen as their partner recounts their day.

And let’s be honest, there’s something magical about having Meryl Streep whisper a mystery into your ear during a long drive. It’s like she’s in the backseat, but without the need to share your snacks.

So, whether you’re a page-turner or an earbud-tangler, let’s celebrate the stories and the myriad ways we devour them. After all, in the end, it’s the tale, not the medium, that truly matters.

And if anyone tries to book-shame you? Just tell them you’re too busy enjoying your story to listen.