I saw a TikTok recently of a person arguing that listening to audiobooks counts as reading. While I didn’t think much of it (since I agreed), something was nagging me at the back of my mind. I can only imagine that they made that TikTok because there are people in the book community who don’t consider audiobooks as a form of reading. Suddenly, while I was in the shower (where all the good ideas/thinking take place), I had a thought: reading is like potatoes, and here’s why.
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An author has an idea. That’s the seed. It’s the start to something that could be beautiful, if given the right care. With the right amount of soil, nutrients, sunlight, water, and enough patience, the seed can grow into a potato. The potato is the finished story. It’s not done yet, though. It’s kind of hard to consume the story in its raw form, so publishers take it and make it into something more palatable. Physical books can be French fries. E-books are potato chips. Audiobooks are mashed potatoes. They may be different, but they’re all made from the same ingredient: the potato. Some people have a preference for one over the other. Maybe someone can’t eat French fries because they have a peanut allergy, and French fries are usually fried in peanut oil. But they can eat mashed potatoes. Sure, the experience is slightly different, but once again, the main flavor of potato is still the same.
Similarly, people have preferences to what format they like to read stories. Some people really enjoy physical books, while others enjoy e-books. Some people find the listening experience to be better than sitting for long periods of time with a book in their hands. Others reach for audiobooks because they either have terrible eyesight or no eyesight at all. Regardless, they’re all consuming the same story, just in different ways.
Reading at its core is all about following a character’s journey, their story. It’s like potatoes. It comes in all shapes and sizes, but the star ingredient remains the same. How you like your potatoes is a personal choice, and don’t let anyone shame you for preferring one over the other.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
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Stay awkward and amazing!