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Audio books are not for all

In today’s tech-savvy world, when technology has oozed into all sectors of society, it is pathetic to see certain skills replaced by ones that tend to induce laziness unconsciously. Moreover it gnaws away our sharpness and disables our cognitive powers too.

The focus is on the replacement of printed books by audio books. Agreed, audio books are highly beneficial to a certain age group and definitely a blessing for the visually challenged. But it is sad when a youngster or a toddler is chained to the headphone listening to a book instead of reading it. The voices are mesmerising and enchanting and holds the listener spellbound. But how useful is it for them?

Listening and reading are passive skills. But they cannot be replaced. Only a bibliophile knows the joy of getting lost in between the covers of the book, savouring not only the individual words but also enjoying the smell of print or paper.

Certain words or sentences make the book lover linger or re-read them. The various interpretations that such pauses bring unleash unbridled joy. It is not surprising that a book gives different perspectives when read in different circumstances and time. A book which seemed to amuse us in our childhood alters into a book that teaches us some very hardcore lessons. Fairy tales loaded with oodles of fun, magic and happy dreams have a hidden message of social awareness and a moral. Though it does not hit the children hard while reading or listening to the lovely tales, it somehow embeds itself in the nooks and corners of the toddlers’ consciousness and sprouts along with the growth of the child. Fairy tales and Enid Blyton continues to amuse us though the enjoyment varies in certain degrees as we grow.

Re-reading sometimes shatters the ideas assimilated in the first reading. This is what makes book interesting. Imagine how the different layers hidden in it gets unravelled each time. In short, a book does not render one idea or view, it has multiple interpretations and it is in the hands of the reader to discover and enjoy these magic touches. Reading is like stumbling into a new treasure trove as one glides through the pages.

Listening, though nice in its own way, has some disadvantages. Though it helps those who are not in a position to read, it somehow filters away the nuances of the book. It robs the reader of the exhilaration of awakening the creative stream, which goes a long way to make us what we are.

sakina.salihu@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 4:23:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/audio-books-are-not-for-all/article33536868.ece

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