I Didn’t Know I Was Reading Wrong

It has come to my attention that apparently other people don’t audiate when they read.

I can hear the voices in my head now. Half of you are going “wtf is audiate?” and the other half are going, “hold the phone, you DO THAT????” Okay friends, let’s take this one question at a time.

Audiation is hearing the words in your head as you read them, as if you were listening to an audiobook or someone was speaking to you. Most people audiate when they are first learning to read. However, it has come to my attention that for many people, as you learn to recognize more sight words you stop “hearing” them when you read them. This allows you to read more text very quickly.

Next. Yes. Yes, I do audiate when I read. Even (apparently) when reading a stop sign or text message. Always.

So growing up, and frankly, well into adulthood, I was always praised for reading very quickly. Even now, other adults I meet are shocked that it only takes me a few days to read a book. I knew there were speed readers out there, but those are the people who can look at a page and read it in one glance, as far as “regular” people went, I figured I was well ahead of the curve.

Then I started book blogging. I met people who read 200, 300 books a year. How did they do it? It couldn’t just be a matter of having more time than me, at 50 pages an hour I would have to spend seven hours a day to get through a book “in one sitting”. I started asking myself, how do these people read so freaking fast???

It was only in an offhand comment I heard on a podcast this week that I discovered that most serious readers don’t audiate. The host wasn’t even talking about it, they just kind of went “unless you audiate when you read, which we all know really slows you down, so nobody does that”. And I went, HUH.

There you go. I’ve been doing it wrong.

Frankly, I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that people don’t audiate when they read. I audiate when I write, I audiate when I THINK. I started talking to my husband about this, and apparently my brain is freaking weird. APPARENTLY it isn’t normal to hear every. single. thing. you think.

HOW DO YOU PEOPLE LIVE???? WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE IN YOUR HEAD???????

Okay, Katie. Deep breaths.

So, yeah. Apparently I read wrong. No big deal. It explains a lot, really. Like why I need a pronunciation guide so badly when the names get all culture-y. Or why the idea of audio books are so repulsive. Or why characters having distinctive voices seems to mean something so different to me than everyone else. And, most of all, why movie adaptations piss me off so bad when they use *almost* exactly the same dialogue. Quick soap box, just change it or keep it the same, okay? There’s no reason to flip-flop the order of the sentence.

Alright, guys. Lay it on me. Am I completely alone here, or are there others of you hearing voices too?

96 thoughts on “I Didn’t Know I Was Reading Wrong

  1. I totally hear the words in my head and I am also a super fast reader (though not a speed reader as you said) and my comprehension is pretty good, even though we had that whole thing about not remembering things….which is apparently really common too. Last night I was at my book club and I remembered far more of the plot than others…so…..this is a great subject to ponder

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Itโ€™s funny…after you wrote about the not remembering I wrote about it and began thinking. I donโ€™t remember titles, authors and characters. But I have really good recall of plot and traits. So it depends on my version of what is memory. Great post btw

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Same! I tend to forget the names of places and characters so many times, but I always seem to recall plots and traits quite clearly! ๐Ÿคฉ I thought it’s just me being weird. ๐Ÿ˜‚

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I audiate too and didn’t know it was a thing. But audio books don’t bother me, or some movies adaptations.
    I also am mystified but those who read a ton, but my pace suits me, and I think if I want, I can mute my inner voice and go faster (I think, not that sure hahaha

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I DO THIS TOO??? I never realised it but now that you’ve pointed it out, I do this when I write as well. (I’m glad with my pace though, because it means I stop when my daughter needs my attention.)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I totally do that! Or at least, used to – I did notice that I get slower when doing that, but I also feel like I enjoy the book more and connect better with characters. So when I’m speed-reading I turn the audiate mode off, and turn it back on if I’m on a more immersive mood. It’s probably the reason why it took me a while to get into audiobooks, but I don’t have a problem with them now…

    Such an interesting topic, I had never stopped to really think about that!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’d heard about it before but never made the link between slow reading and audiating… DUH XD So that’s why sometimes I go through text really quickly and others not so much! And I always thought it had to do with enjoying more than anything else. I feel like, even though I have been reading for a long time, if I don’t audiate I don’t understand things as clearly or they don’t stick in my head as quickly or for as long.
    Granted, you may read quicker but if you forget about it soon after or don’t get to experience it as fully, then what’s the point? Maybe I just need to learn how to do it properly. Or rather, we both do!
    Anyway, great post and very relatable hahaha

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I don’t know that I am capable of learning to not audiate. I was talking to my husband about something unrelated, and he suggests my brain may be wired a little differently, which is why I can’t turn the inner monologue off. He said there has been recent research into HSP (which I always thought was something my mom made up) that suggests HSP (highly-sensitive-people) have a stronger inner-monologue/audiation than “normal” people. Huh.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow cool! I so don’t audiate. I am also a weird person in that I am not visual at all. For example when people say cat, a lot of people can picture a cat. I can’t. I think of the idea of cat. One of me best friends actually is so visual that she sees the film versions when she is reading. She can also change the visuals in her head. She made up her own version of the ending for Lost for example. Even though I am not visual, sometimes when seeing art of a book character I think “that’s not how they look.” But when pressed I have no idea what I actually think they look like. The brain is weird. But now I know about audiating. I don’t think I want the ability. But I do like reading about it. Arrr!
    x The Captain

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so jealous of the people who can form mental images while reading! I can sometimes form the vaguest of mental pictures, which is why I really love books with lots of detail. But not a clear picture like that. Maybe my inner-voice is using up all my brain’s computational abilities, lol.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I can see how being more invested might cause you to audiate more. I just don’t understand how people get invested in the first place if they aren’t hearing it, but that being said I can’t imagine not hearing at all, so…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I sometimes “hear voices,” too, and I’m not a fast reader. So…those two things might go together. I think that I’m most apt to do this if I’m having trouble concentrating on a book or of it’s difficult to understand (especially non-fiction). When I’m really enjoying a book or intrigued by what will happen next, I read faster. I don’t think this is anything to get “hung up on,” but I imagine a person can prod themselves to move faster. For example, I remember when I first started reading “grown up” chapter books and I caught myself looking at the page number at the top before turning the page and then again after turning to make sure that I hadn’t missed a page. I sometimes still have to stop myself from doing this (kind of an OCD thing, I imagine). So, I guess that we can retrain ourselves a bit. The main thing with reading books is to ENJOY!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I proudly hear the voices in my head. As for those who don’t…well then they may not be enjoying the book NEARLY as much! To be clear…the scenes play out in my head as well off and on or most times. (Depending on the book.) DO NOT STOP! I forbid you from stopping! (As far as words go at least.)

    If hearing the voices has you, like myself, loving to read and counting down the minutes until we can grab the book and escape into the world not of our own. Then do it, simply just do it and never look back.

    โค

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So what are your thoughts on audiobooks then? I can’t imagine enjoying them, because I might get very hung up on a single narrator whose voice doesn’t change properly. Then again, I might love it!

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      1. I have tried one audiobook before and for me. My mind wants to do other things and such. Which is the point of them yes, but it also disconnects my mind and you don’t pick up the fine details as much. I’m a paper embracer. I may try audiobooks later as I have a long drive coming up.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. I never really paid attention if I audiate, but I see like a movie in my head when I read and if you interrupt me while reading it’s like pausing a movie. I get really angry if I’m reading like a fight scene and have to put my book down because I want to know what happens lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. So apparently I do this too. Even writing this answer out I can hear myself saying each word in my head. I never really paid attention to this before. But you mentioned you do not like audiobooks and I LOVE audiobooks. I don’t think I realized I was even doing this until now… but in the past I read about ways to train yourself to take in the entire sentence without needing to read each word, but never compared it to actually saying each word in my mind. No idea why that never correlated before for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I once worked for a reading company that taught reading skills to kids and adults. They said that when you read fiction, you should audiate (they used a different word, but I don’t remember what it was) because it adds to the experience. It’s when you read non-fiction you don’t need to because the language isn’t as important. So, even though I read quickly, I still always “hear” the voices in my head. And I don’t think it’s the wrong way to read, because hearing the voices adds to the experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Guilty as charged ๐Ÿ™‚
    I also face issues with names from other cultures – itโ€™s really challenging to understand the story if I donโ€™t get the names pronunciation (almost) right! I remember the first time I read a Russian classic … the names!!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Never heard of this before although when I read it’s pretty much a movie playing out in my head, I cast it and everything! Maybe it’s close to the same thing. I don’t believe there’s any wrong way to read though ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I’m sorry I lied involuntarily. I’ve been monitoring me, and I can’t mute my inner voice either. I also can’t make those images, least a movie. But if I watch a movie before the book, the main character takes over and I imagine him or her like in the movie. Good thing I don’t watch a lot of movies adaptations, ha ha ha. As for audios, I do welcome them because they give me the ‘tone’ of books. Otherwise, I sometimes miss the humor in them, or don’t lift up from the words to kind of be at a more comfortable position as a reader. It’s context. I also admit that some books like Midnight’s Children by Rushdie, I could not have read it by myself. The audio had accents, and it added to the whole thing making it more comprehensible, -granted that I did not grasp it 100 percent-, to the point of being very enjoyable no matter how over my head the book was.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Accents really throw me off. I just finished reading a book set in Australia, and I just couldn’t get some of the odds turns of phrases or words that sound completely different. I think in that situation an audiobook narrated by an Australian actor would have *really* helped me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been lucky with the mental image thing, I’ve been able to do it since I was young.. I’ve always had a very vivid and wild imagination! ๐Ÿ˜… My mum always encouraged me to read, write and draw so I don’t know if that might have something to do with it. It’s also one of the reasons why I don’t always pick up on character descriptions in books though because half the time I’ve already created a character in my head ๐Ÿ˜‚

        It is a funny thing to think about though, how we all have those tiny little quirks which are just do different from each other ๐Ÿ˜Š definitely food for throught ๐Ÿ’ž

        Liked by 1 person

  15. HOLY. CRAP. I have been reading wrong my whole life? I guess that makes sense though…I also find audiobooks repulsive. And I do read a lot slower than most people. Interesting. This has certainly made me feel a type of way…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Feel bad not! I picked the title “Reading Wrong” because my husband thinks click-bait is funny, and for some reason still views my blog as click-baity. I think that it’s not wrong, just different. Personally I rather like reading this way.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. OH this was so interesting, I’m wondering now if that’s something I do as well, hmm… I feel weird about it all now haha, but that’s so interesting to hear your point of view on that!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  17. When I read quickly I donโ€™t hear the sounds in my head much or at all. But I can โ€œturn up the volumeโ€ in my head at will. Usually it results in a slightly slower reading pace, but there are certain characters and writing styles which naturally make sounds in my head. Audiating can definitely help my attention span and reading comprehension, although it takes a bit more energy to do.

    At the other extreme, once I reread one of my favorite novels entirely out loud to myself, always alone in a quiet room. It was a wonderful experience, but too slow for my standard reading. I recommend it for special books, though!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. haha well as someone who doesn’t audiate (didn’t know that was a thing till I read this, so thanks for educating me!) I can say there is a downside to not doing it- since I learn most words from reading and don’t look up how to pronounce them, my pronunciation is terrible ๐Ÿ˜‚ (also I may not be hearing voices, but I guess you could say other readers are seeing things ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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  19. At the start of this post I was all “what’s audiate mean?” Now I’m all “OMG that’s totally me, and how can you turn it off?????” I don’t understand how people can turn it off, or it doesn’t exist for them? I’m speaking this comment in my head as I type… Maybe this is why my discussion posts never stay on track, because my brain takes one string, finds 6 others and then we diverge into the woods. With narration. ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha, I know, I have a hard time keeping my brain on one track too! No, it seems that people can turn it off and on at will! Although based on the comments to this post, it seems like that’s not as common a skill as the person I heard speaking about it made it seem.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Hahahahahaha. Itโ€™s definitely not after midnight here… and I am definitely not picking up my phone to try and still the random thoughts… ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

            Liked by 1 person

  20. Wow! This is such an eye-opening post!! I’ve always audiated when I read…… and I thought everyone else does it too!??! I didn’t realize that there are people out there who don’t do this!??! I definitely audiate when I write, when I think, when I read random stuff like cereal boxes and nutrition facts… Anyway just want to say that I love this post and can totally relate!!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I’m even weirder because not only do I audiate (though not always when I’m reading: sometimes I can skim/read quickly through a block of text and get the general gist of it, rather than having to sound out each individual word), I see words in my field of view when I’m listening to people talk . . . which is apparently wack? It’s the opposite of audiating. I only recently found out that,,,most people don’t do that???? so that’s been a fun discovery.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my goodness, that IS unique! I’ve never heard of that before. Is there a word for that? In music there is a thing where people see colors, literally SEE them, depending on what pitch is being played, so you see it’s not all THAT odd, ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Um, WHAT? I thought it was completely normal to have a voice in your head when reading! I’m not sure how I’m supposed to read without a voice in my head. I’m also very impressed with people who can read 100 to 200 books in a year! I’ll admit, it’s something I really wish I could do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Judging based on nothing other than the comments on this post, I think it must be completely normal. The person who was talking about not audiating must be the weird one, because the vast majority of responses I have gotten are like yours. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  23. I thought hearing voices was normal. Apparently it’s not! ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Audiobooks aren’t my thing at all! I just can’t concentrate when I listen to an audiobook. Books and ebooks are the ones I rely on. ๐Ÿ˜

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I always have that little voice in my head when I read. Depending on what I’m reading, it even does accents lol. If it’s a female speaking I have a female voice…..old/young….I’ve always read that way. I thought it happened in everyone’s head. Obviously not.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. You just got me speechless (not a chance, as Iโ€™m writing this I hear my voice saying these words). How is it that thatโ€™s not normal?! I seriously thought everyone heard their voices while reading, writing or even thinking. Now I understand why I canโ€™t stand audiobooks.
    I am so shocked. Glad to know that Iโ€™m even more weirdo, but at least Iโ€™m not the only one!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Oh come on! There’s no such thing “reading it wrong” unless you are reading the words itself an form a wrong meaning, then it’s wrong. I always hear voices when I read. I hear the “writer’s voice” I hear your voice while reading this post and I’m even hearing my own voice while typing this comment. ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

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