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Notes from a Crusty Seeker

Truthiness in "Reading"

One night many decades ago when I was working as a legal secretary, one of the partners asked an associate about a brief she was working on—what was its status?

"I typed it," she answered.

I held my breath waiting to hear the partner's response. He did not disappoint me: "You typed it yourself?" he asked pleasantly. And although he made no show of noticing me, I'm sure he heard my strangled laugh and enjoyed it.

"Well, no," answered the associate, blushing deeply. "I mean I had it typed."

"By a secretary," said the partner.

"Yes," she nodded, avoiding my side of the room.

The difference between "typing" and "having somebody else do the work of typing" is obvious. But as we careen into "truthiness" in so many areas of life, so too have readers in their common expression: "I read the audiobook."

Here's my new Publishers Weekly essay on the subject, Look, Read, Listen—What's the Difference? A writer disputes the idea that listening to an audiobook is the same as reading.






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