Around 100,000 years ago, humans evolved the capacity for language. Our brains are hard-wired to process the spoken word. No experience necessary. Barring any impairments, you will absorb and comprehend what others say.
You likely would have begun picking up the basics before your first birthday, and since then, you've gone on to teach yourself how to recognize the different tones, inflections, and sounds that make up words.
Reading the written word isn't natural for us, though. We cannot simply pick it up by being around other printed words. The spoken word is something that can be learned simply by being around other people who talk. Reading and writing take deliberate practice and teaching. People do not naturally know how to read simply by being surrounded by printed words.
This is self-evident. The written word is everywhere. If people could become proficient in it just by seeing words every day, poor literacy wouldn't even be a concept we could comprehend. Counter that with speech - and only by being around people talking, you learn to communicate at a high level of understanding to everyone.
I'm not saying that reading and writing aren't essential - far from it - because when I'm not listening to audiobooks, I'm writing stories of my own. I am saying that the human brain is wired to accept the spoken word with minimal expended effort. We've been doing it for a long, long time, so we're pretty good at it.
Humans have used the spoken word to tell stories for tens of thousands of years, and for that time, passing down stories from one generation to the next was the only way history was recorded. Even now, so much history is passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth.
So, when it comes to the best way to experience a story, it's hard to argue against audiobooks. They are the modern-day equivalent of sitting around the campfire outside your cave or hut as the elders passed down the stories of the tribe. A well-narrated audiobook can transcend the words on the page, drawing you deeper into the story as you hear the tension in the narrator's voice, or feel the joy and elation as they take you to the highest of highs.
It's much harder to misinterpret the intent of the spoken word. Just look at how often a misunderstood email of social media posting can land someone in hot water. With the spoken word, you can pick up contextual clues, or by emphasising certain words can change the message. Just take the sentence "I never said he stole your money" as an example. By emphasizing a different word each time you read it, you get a different message.
I never said he stole your money -- someone else said it?
I never said he stole your money -- perhaps it was implied?
I never said stole he your money -- maybe she did?
You get the point.
Audiobooks also make the stories so much more accessible to people. How many people do you know who might struggle with the physical aspect of reading? Perhaps they've never been able to learn to read beyond the basics. Maybe they're visually impaired or have dyslexia. Perhaps due to age or other circumstances, they cannot hold a physical copy of a book for any length of time. Maybe you are time-poor, commuting long distances each day, and are exhausted by the time you get home.
Audiobooks are the answer to all of this. You can listen to them virtually anywhere. Fill that wasted time getting to and from your job with the words of a classic or new best-seller. If you've been looking at a screen all day, you can close your eyes to give them a break and simply absorb the words as they drift from your speakers. If you can't hold that book, tap a button on your phone, and endless new worlds will fill your ears.
So what are you waiting for? Grab yourself an audiobook and find out what you've been missing.
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