Audio or Print Book? Sometimes One, Sometimes the Other

No, I’m not going to rehash the issue of whether audiobooks “count.” As long as the audiobook you listen to is unabridged, it counts as having read the book, just as does reading an ebook.

However, I recently listened to two audiobooks that reminded me that sometimes I prefer to listen and sometimes I prefer to read from a print or ebook version.

The Island by Adrian McKinty

  • Little, Brown & Company Audio, 2022
  • Narrated by Mela Lee
  • ISBN 978-1-54-912242-2
Book cover: The Island by Adrian McKinty

Newlywed Heather Baker hopes that a family vacation to Australia will provide the much-needed opportunity to build a rapport with her new family. Heather is  much younger than her new husband Tom Baxter, a widowed doctor with a 14-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. Heather has always been insecure, and Tom’s children resent her addition to their family. As their plane flies out of Seattle, she longs to find a way to begin to bond with the children.

But the children find the Australian outback hot and boring. When they discover a ferry to remote Dutch Island, Tom talks the reluctant ferry operator into taking them to the island in hopes that the kids will be able to see kangaroos and koalas there. But the island is run by an extended family of locals who have no use for outsiders. Then an auto accident forces Tom into confrontation with the local family. As the locals prepare to take vengeance from Tom, Heather manages to escape into the surrounding wilderness with the children. The situation quickly escalates, with the locals vowing to hunt down and kill them.

This fast-paced thriller was a perfect audiobook for a vacation road trip. The characterization is dramatic and explicit, with no need to reread (or relisten) to catch subtle nuances. I’ll look for other books by McKinty the next time we hit the road.

© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown

shelf full of books with pastel spines, no titles
Book cover: My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite 

  • Random House Audio, 2018
  • Narrated by Adepero Oduye

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead.

Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.


I wanted to read this short novel because it received lots of awards: Booker Prize Nominee Longlist (2019), Anthony Award, Best First Novel (2019), Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominee (2019), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Mystery & Thriller and for Debut Novel (2019).

Because the novel is set in Nigeria and contains names I had no idea how to pronounce, I decided to listen to the audiobook. I was happy to hear the names. However, the novel is broken into many short sections, each with a label. As the story unfolded, I began to wish that I was reading rather than listening because I would have liked to see the way the sections were set off on the pages.

This is not a big deal because I can certainly check the print version out of the library and take a look at it. But this experience did remind me of some of the differences between reading the print book and listening to the audio version. these differences don’t make one format inherently better than the other, but they do mean that the experiences are different. And recognizing those differences  will help me in future decisions about whether to read or listen.

© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown

As of December 1, 2022, I am no longer using Twitter. Instead, I’ll be promoting blog posts—other bloggers’ and my own—on Mastodon. You can find me there under this name:


You cannot search for people by their real names on Mastodon. To find someone, you must go to Mastodon and search for the user name. I think you have to have your own account with Mastodon to do this.

1 thought on “Audio or Print Book? Sometimes One, Sometimes the Other”

  1. Some books don’t work well in audio format at all. I’ve found that those with fragmented narratives (multiple narrators) are hard to follow. Those which are very introspective also seem to be an issue for me – I keep dipping out.

    PS: have just joined Mastadon and managed to find you. I have no idea what I’m doing there yet though….

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