Reading A Book Versus Listening to An Audio Book Effects on Memory & Comprehension
Reading is an essential part, especially in childhood development, to develop minds and allow people to think both analytically and creatively. It improves vocabulary, speech, and is a catalyst for critical thinking and innovative ideas, despite if it is fiction or factual stories. When it comes to physical books, they have been around since the dawn of time, dating back to 700 CE in Tang Dynasty China. Audible books, on the other hand, are much more modern, first becoming introduced to the world in the 1950s. Since the advances in technology, people can listen to audiobooks easier than ever before. However, even with this digital innovation, paperback books are still clearly prevalent and relevant. The reason for this is because both physical and audible books offer unique benefits, making them both desirable in their own ways.


When it comes to reading a book versus listening to an audible book, there is quite a bit of solid research that indicates an actual book can do better here. The reason for this, according to the University of Texas professionals, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, is because when you are reading, your brain fills in the blanks based on the symbols on the page. For instance, if you are reading about a character on the beach, you will have a much easier time picturing the voices, scene, and comprehend a deeper meaning than by listening to it on an audiobook. When it comes to audiobooks, since you cannot go back and reread the specific sections, you are much more likely to summarize and get the gist of what is going on more of a surfaced level.


According to a 2019 Discover publication, reading versus listening to audio books have a very similar effect on memory. Based on the article, researchers from Gallant Lab at UC Berkeley conducted a study that entailed nine participants. They each read and listened to a story series. Upon analysis, the researchers found that both story deliveries provoked the same cognitive and emotional areas of the brain. So if you are worried about whether or not your memory will be affected by your reading choices, you can be more confident that it might not make a difference. The real indicator is how in tune and invested you are in the story. The more interest you have, the better you will retain it, whether it be a book or in audiobook form.

Emotional Responses

If you are trying to figure out whether a book or audiobook should be your go-to, it really depends on the emotional response you want to achieve. With books, you are the voice, making it a much more personal experience overall. Your inner voice is what is going to create the visuals, and the story dictation based on what you read. Alternatively, with audiobooks, you are much more likely to have an elicit emotional response to the particular content. This is because when people hear other voices in serious, funny, or sarcastic tones, it can make it more engaging. So, in summary, if you want to use your imagination more, read a physical book. If you desire a more interactive feeling, audiobooks would be the ideal route to go.

Convenience and Multi-tasking

When it comes to convenience and the ability to multi-task, audiobooks will win every time. It is effortless to play a story while doing just about anything else. From cleaning, cooking, going to the gym, or driving, you can get in a good story safety at the same time. The only downside to this is that when you are multi-talking, you may not be absorbing the information as well as if you were dedicating your time to the story fully like you would when reading a book. You may find yourself getting lost and perhaps having to rewind parts of the story. This is not a bad thing, but understand that it could be a probability.


No, listening to an audiobook is not the same as reading an actual book. They each have their specific traits associated with them. Though reading a book versus listening to an audible book are different, but both are great options to become amerced in. The best part is you do not have to side with either one entirely; you can always get involved with both. There may be times when you want to sit in a nice quiet room, enjoying the page-flipping satisfaction of a covered book. Other times, you could be driving down the road listening to your audiobook or multitasking while absorbing a story. Whatever you decide to do, know that reading, in general, is an enriching hobby to partake in that can give you a much better-quality mind and life.

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