Listening to Reading

14Nov06

Tonight I had a work read. I am really enjoying the book I’m reading for pleasure right now, and can’t wait to blog about it. Hopefully later this week. So this is an On Reading post–for more on what that means, visit my about page.

I used to love “record books” when I was a kid. James Mason reading Journey to the Center of the Earth had me dreaming of Iceland, and I nearly wore out an LP of Jean Craighead George’s Julie of the Wolves. My dad has always been into audiobooks. He does a lot of driving for work, and is a slow reader himself. Whenever we took long car rides he’d always stock up on books for us to listen to, to keep my brother and I from getting bored and killing each other. Sometimes the books were great; I have vivid memories of listening to Stephen King’s The Mist on tape on a ski trip. Other times, well… I remember my senior year in high school he took me up to visit a college in Massachusetts, a fur piece from our home in Maryland. And the book on tape he chose to bring was Richard Nixon’s autobiography.

Read by Richard Nixon.

I passed in and out of consciousness as Richard wove his magic tale. My father, however, was alert, fully engaged, and I think a little disappointed that I was not keen to discuss Nixon’s thrilling life over dinner. I felt bad, because I liked talking about books with my dad. But the Nixon autobiography stretched the limits of filial enthusiasm.

I’m planning to run the marathon next year, and if I do, I’m considering an audiobook for companionship. I’ll probably choose something plotty that I’ve read before, a known quantity that’s certain not to bore me. You might think this contradicts what I wrote yesterday about not wanting to read while I run, but I don’t count listening to an audiobook as reading. It’s storytelling, but it’s not the same. When I’m listening to someone read me a book, those spoken words are in control. How fast or how slow and in what order they emerge is not up to me. I’m passive. I’m being entertained, like when I’m watching a movie. And sometimes that’s what I want. But it’s not what I hunger for. I could go my whole life and never listen to another audiobook without even noticing. But tell me I can’t read a book tomorrow and I might claw out your throat.

Next on the shelf:

Number three by Laurie Halse Anderson: Prom. It’s another hit, and one that I think I’m going to end up rereading soon. I feel the urge to go back inside that story. Funny how that happens.

I loaned this to my friend Z, and it still has the post-it she stuck on it when she mailed it back to me. It says, “thanks for sending this–promise me that when you make it into a movie you have someone wear your ring dance dress with the red bow and matching shoes, of course… like there’s any other option!” We bonded when we met because she had a crush on the boy I had taken to my ring dance earlier that year. He didn’t like me, either, and a lifelong friendship was born. She, of course, is also a reader.

Prom

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2 Responses to “Listening to Reading”

  1. 1 Wesley Dumont

    v.nice.

  2. Mom used to read aloud on our roadtrips. They were big into fantasy for some reason — though it was always Christian sci-fi. Great, when that meant Lewis and Tolkien, not so great when it meant books by Stephen Lawhead. 😦


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