#1 I’ve been too busy reading good books. #2 I’m buying a house.
We’ll be moving into the new house in March and I’m sure I’ll tell you all about then.
But, back to books….or more specifically...to audiobooks. I have sort of fallen in love with audiobooks, but not without a few misgivings about the technology. I received an ipod from my dad for my birthday last summer. Months before I’d mentioned I might like to try an mp3 player. He’s good with remembering those sorts of things and so I got a ipod for my birthday. But, I ended up not using it too much for a while—mostly on road trips. I'd thought I'd like it for bicycling, but discovered I didn’t because it didn’t feel safe to me.
But, then in the fall I discovered the free Montana Library2Go audiobook program at my public library (which is not the library where I work). It opened up a whole new world of books. I could listen to a book while I did the dishes or mowed the lawn (with the quite rotary mower). I could listen to books while I folded laundry and while I walked home from work. Suddenly I was flying through the books, one after another, several at the same time. I was getting so much more “reading” time in compared to when I exclusively used traditional print books. In fact, I just counted my little list there on the right and I am at 29 books already this year (10 of which are audiobooks). It seems that I might be going to surpass the 75 total books from last year. (The nearly compulsive drive to read which was brought on by the audiobooks also spurred me on to read loads of print books, too. I just want to read, read, read.)
But, my audiobook misgivings have to do with the experience of reading a traditional paper book versus an audiobook being read to you. I am not sure I retain the details quite as vividly. I think that maybe you lose a little of the independent imagination of reading—like how someone sounds, the cadence or tone or volume of a voice, the accents—when someone else is reading it to you they are the ones to decide that stuff. When you are reading to yourself you are in charge of creating those things. For example Matt and I had difference takes on the main character of A Dirty Job, which he read and which I listened to. Not huge differences, but differences none the less. I thought he was harried, but that was just how the reader made him sound.
I’ve found non-fiction far less enjoyable in audiobook format. I want to re-read statistics and figures. I want to read endnotes as I go along. I want to be able to flip back to a certain passage to discuss it with Matt. That is all easier in a traditional book format, if you ask me. Philosophy books are impossible for me to listen to. I need to stop and ponder and re-read too frequently for it to work.
I also have misgivings about going through the world with earbuds in for a variety of reasons. I feel I can’t say hello to the folks I pass on the street and that is something I really enjoy--it is a simple act of community I don't want to miss out on. I also feel I am less safe being unable to hear approaching cars or pedestrians with earbuds in. I worry I’ll become one of “those people”—constantly plugged in—those who demand constant technological stimulation and can’t just be alone with quiet thoughts or the sights and sounds of the world they pass through. The first two I've sort of dealt with by only using one earbud at a time. The third is a little trickier....
In the end I think something that makes me an even more ravenous reader can't be that bad. Still, the coincidence of listening to You Are Not a Gadget or Feed on the little digital gadget plugged straight into my head was not lost on me.