Scientifically determining whether I like nonfiction better as audio or physical books

Hello, friends! I’m back with another blog post (obviously), and you can probably guess what it’s going to be based on the title of this post. Today, I am going to be attempting to determine whether I enjoy nonfiction books better when I listen to them as an audiobook versus reading the physical book.

And, because I am me, I decided to write this blog post as I would write a peer-reviewed stats paper (which I have published before πŸ’πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ). I hope you enjoy, and thank you for indulging in my odd posts.


An audiobook is a recording of a reading of a book that can be listened to as a way to consume the book. Historically, they were recorded on cassettes or CDs but have recently been released as digital files that are widely available.

I have recently started listening to audiobooks, and have noticed that I enjoy listening to nonfiction better than fiction. Nonfiction books are books that are based on facts, real events, and real people. Recently, I have been rating audiobook nonfiction books fairly highly and have been more critical of physical nonfiction books. I assume this is because it is easier to get through nonfiction as it is less effort to listen to a boring section than it is to read a boring section.

This paper will calculate the average rating of nonfiction audiobooks compared nonfiction physical books to determine which format I like better.


I went through my “read” shelf on Goodreads. All the nonfiction books were inserted into an excel sheet, along with their rating and whether they were read as a physical book or audiobook. I used excel to determine the average rating for each of those categories.

To determine whether these averages were significantly different, a two-tailed t-test was conducted. T-tests compare the average of two populations to determine whether they are significantly different. The p-value indicates whether they are statistically different. A p-value less than 0.05 is statistically significant, whereas anything more than 0.05 is not statistically significant.

The books

Here are all of the nonfiction books I’ve read (with a couple exceptions that I either read too long ago or read for a class) with their ratings:

Physical books
  • I Hope We Choose Love by Kai Cheng Thom, 3.5 stars
  • The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates, 5 stars
  • Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, 4 stars
  • A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott, 5 stars
  • Columbine by Dave Cullen, 4 stars
  • A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard, 4 stars
  • Educated by Tara Westover, 5 stars
  • The Measure of My Powers by Jackie Kai Ellis, 4 stars
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, 4 stars
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, 5 stars
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, 5 stars
  • We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 5 stars
  • The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell, 4 stars
  • The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, 5 stars
  • The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat, 4 stars
  • I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, 5 stars
  • Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, 4 stars
  • We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib, 4.5 stars
  • In Pieces by Sally Field, 4 stars
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie by Andrea Warner, 4 stars
  • Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow, 5 stars
  • Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, 5 stars
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, 5 stars
  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, 4 stars
  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle, 4 stars
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, 4.5 stars
  • Text Me When you Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer, 3 stars
  • The Only Girl in the World by Maude Julien, 5 stars
  • Hunger by Roxane Gay, 5 stars
  • Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay, 5 stars

Results and discussion

Overall, there were 15 physical books and 15 audiobooks. Ratings ranged from 3.5 to five stars for physical books and three to five stars for audiobooks.

The average rating for physical books was 4.43 stars. The average rating for audiobooks was 4.46 stars. There is a marginal difference in enjoyment of physical books compared to audiobooks.

The p-value of the t-test was 0.878, indicating that there is no statistically significant difference between physical and audiobooks.

There is no statistically significant difference between my enjoyment of nonfiction books in audio versus physical form.

So anyway, there’s my lab report. Hope you enjoyed and this wasn’t too boring!

But anyway, do you have a preference? What are some of your favourite non-fiction? Let me know!

Ally xx

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13 thoughts on “Scientifically determining whether I like nonfiction better as audio or physical books

  1. I think it depends on the non-fiction! Memoirs, for example, I could read either way. But it’s a special treat to listen to the author read their own story, which is common with memoirs. I also like a lot of historical non-fiction, and the audiobooks definitely hold my attention better. So… I guess audiobooks!

    As an aside, I really liked your objective writing style for this post. Formal essays don’t always work in blogging but I think this post is fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh good point! I do love memoirs in both formats and completely agree about the author narrating it. I know I definitely prefer more textbook-like books as audio, so maybe I’ll have to do this post by genre as well πŸ€”

      And thank you so much, that means a lot! πŸ’•

      Liked by 1 person

  2. For me, part of it depends on what I want to get out of the non-fiction book. If I’m just interested in absorbing some background knowledge on a subject, audio is perfect! It lets me get familiar with a subject I didn’t know well before. For language, audio is preferred as well (as long as the narrator is credible and speaking the words properly). I am not that good at mentally figuring out what something’s supposed to sound like if I’m not already familiar with the language, so I like being able to hear it. But, for those subjects where I want to get a more detailed understanding of the situation, I prefer to read it for myself. It’s easier to make notes, look things up, and generally feel like it’s “real study” if I have the book in print (whether on paper or digitally) before me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh good point! Audio is definitely great for background information. I’ve never tried audiobooks for language, but I can definitely see how it would be beneficial.

      But I definitely agree that actually looking at something helps sometimes. There are some audiobooks I’ve listened to that I want to get physical copies of so I can reread them and absorb it a bit more


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