The Joys of Listening to Audiobooks While Reading Books

It’s official—the book world can’t get enough of audiobooks. This makes a win-win situation for both publishers and bookworms. Audio sales are booming and keep the industry afloat, while we readers get to have our literary fix while doing other stuff like cooking, sewing, gardening, and driving, among other activities. While these are worthwhile activities, has anyone tried sitting down, listening to an audiobook while reading its print counterpart as well?

As much as we love audiobooks for a plethora of reasons, sometimes our comprehension suffers when we pair them with multitasking. Admit it. I’m even guilty of it. When I listen to an audiobook while doing something else, my mind sometimes wanders and I lose my focus. This usually happens when I start a new audiobook, when the scenes are frustratingly slow, and when the audiobook underwhelms. I even have to keep going back 30 seconds or so to understand the parts I missed. But not anymore.

A Eureka Moment

Like everyone else, I love listening to a good story while finishing household chores. But one time, I ticked off my to-do list too fast. So, I decided to fire up my Kindle Paperwhite to read along with the narrator. Guess what, it was a eureka moment for me. After weeks of doing this, I think it facilitated my reading comprehension and made me understand the story better.

It may sound counterproductive. After all, audiobooks and multitasking make a great pair. But you don’t have to always do several things at once. You can do whatever you want while listening to audiobooks. You can stare at nothing and enjoy how the narrator tells the story, or you can get that paperback or ebook you borrowed from the library to guide you through. Trust me! You’ll appreciate the book even more.

For someone with declining attention span while reading (I get distracted when there’s too much noise), doing this keeps me focused on the plot. It makes me remember who did what to whom better. It also blocks the noise that I’d otherwise hear when reading only the print book.

The joys of listening to audiobooks while reading books extends beyond the narrative plot.

Not Just For Pleasure

For those studying English as a second language, listening while following along with the text helps them to remember correct pronunciation, pacing, and other nuances of the language. This is the same case with learning English while watching TV series, except it’s much cooler. For heavy or casual readers like us, it brings a lot to the table, too. I love reading science fiction and fantasy. But sometimes there are a lot of proper nouns or terminologies within the book that may have weird pronunciations. Thankfully, I get everything right these days, thanks to the help of narrators.

Literary fiction is also something to be reckoned with. Sometimes, the prose is so artful that I pause for a while to take it in. Fortunately, literary fiction titles nowadays have audio counterparts—and it makes them less challenging to read.

Just a Caveat

While these are all good, this practice might not be helpful for some.

I developed a dependency on this habit. Nowadays, you can’t make me read anything without listening to its audiobook version and vice versa. It’s now part of the deal, and one of my criteria when looking for new books to read. No audiobook version? Then, forget it. I know it sounds silly and dismissive, but this is how I managed to sneak in reading to my busy schedule and complicated reading life.


In this day and age where print books and ebooks are still being pitted against audiobooks, listening while reading, or vice versa, saves us all the trouble. You don’t have to choose one. You can have the best of both worlds.

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