Since I started listening to podcasts and audiobooks in 2005, I have read paper books less and less. When I first started listening, I found it hard to pay attention to the spoken word for very long and my attention would wander. In order to help this, I began listening and playing games on my iPod at the same time – mostly just tetris or solitaire. The longer I listened to books, the easier it became to hear.

Now I am in the strange situation that I almost never read paper books, but I listen to books every day. Listening rather than reading has the advantage that you can do it hands-free. I can listen while cooking, cleaning, on the bus, wandering around the mall, out for a run. Books are great company. On re-listening, certain books evoke a strong memory of where I was when I first heard them (I listen a lot while travelling).

So here’s the thing. Will listening rather than reading make me intellectually lazy? Will I lose the ability to use my reading muscles if I don’t exercise them enough? Will I lose the ability to get absorbed in a good (paper) book?

Will audiobooks help develop my ‘paying attention when listening’ muscles?

Or does it simply just not matter?

I’m interested to know what you think.