This is something that I have seen discussed a few times on blogs and booktube videos. Well if we are going to be completely technical about it then No it is not reading, because you are not actually reading the book, someone is reading it to you. But it is being read, just not by you.
I personally like listening to audio books, and have been listening to them quite a bit recently, a good thing about an audio book is that the story may sink in more than when you read it, for example, I borrowed the book The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown from the library a couple of years ago and I read the book, but if a year later you had asked me what happened in it I would not be able to tell you. I am currently listening to the book on my mobile phone via the Amazon Audible app, and now I can remember the story and details of the plot that I couldn’t when I read it, in fact it has been positively haunting me.
Why have I started listening to audio books? Well I started a while ago when my other half was watching sport, but now I find I am listening through the night, as I have a young baby and am finding it very hard to find the time to sit and read a physical book, I still manage a little bit per day but nowhere near the amount of reading I managed before she was born, so I am listening to the book at night when I am feeding her, this is now only about once a night at around 5 or 6 am, but it is still a good 40 minutes or so and listen while she is falling asleep on me after her feed.
I’m still way behind on my Goodreads challenge but listening to audio book is helping me catch up slowly.
Audio books also help you read in places you can’t normally read, like when you are driving your car, I know a lot of people who listen to audio books in their cars when travelling to and from work, so while technically you are not reading an audio book it still counts, that’d my view and I’m sticking to it!
I say they do. It’s a different kind of immersive experience, like you said certain parts of it seem to stand out more when spoken out loud, but it is immersive. We read to learn empathy for other situations and learn from their lessons, and there are actually areas of the brain that light up, suggesting that we experience the characters experiences as if they are our own. It’s probably different areas of the brain with an audiobook, but it’s still immersive, sometimes even more so. So it still teaches empathy, and we still learn the heroes lessons as if it were to us ourselves.