Monday, March 11, 2013

Day 11: My Last Read

Well, it depends, I guess. If we're talking about the last book I actually read in print form (that is, I opened a book, read words printed on a page, reading from the beginning of the printed words until the end), you'll have to give me a minute to think.

The reason I'll need that minute is because I so rarely take the time to read by sight anything that is not directly related to my professional life, and most of that is research, journal articles or parts of books. All this is worthy material, but it's not the kind of pleasure reading I used to do. I enjoy reading; truly, I do, but there are not enough hours in the day currently to open books for fun. I have had to make technology work for me if I'm going to do it well.

A year ago, my old car stereo finally died. OK, the cassette player stopped working so I could no longer listen to my 80s mix tapes. Don't judge. When it came time for a replacement, I upgraded to something that would allow me to use my mp3 player because, somewhere along the line, I discovered that I could download audio books from the library and put them on my mp3 player.

I remember when I realized this was possible, and I imagine the feeling I experienced at the moment of this discovery must have been similar to prehistoric man at the moment it became clear that meat could be made to taste better when it was put over fire.

"You mean you can put the meat over the fire? And it tastes better?"

"Dude! Look at those juices! You don't get that from regular meat."

I have a 45 minute commute to school. One way. That's a long time in the car, and it's mostly by myself because it's hard to carpool with my schedule. I'm involved in lots of stuff at my school so I don't get to come and go at regular times. Some years ago I picked up a student who played soccer for me. That was nice! It meant he could do school and soccer, and I got someone to share really good conversation with. Then he graduated and that was that. Now it's just me.

This new radio is HD, but to tell the truth there's not a lot on the airwaves to keep my interest. I listen to NPR sometimes, but it seems like it's pledge week about once a month and I just don’t have the guilt fortitude to listen to them ask for money all the time. I listen to ESPN Radio on occasion, but that doesn't last very long because I don’t need to rehash the Celtics game for my entire drive to school. I've given up listening to pop radio.

With an mp3 jack, though, I can read (or, rather, listen to) all the books I wasn't having time to enjoy before. And not just read, but actually experience ALL of the words in them, not just the ones I chose to read in an effort to get through them more quickly.

Good audio books have readers who do voices, just like I would do if I were reading out loud. The quality of audio books for me is absolutely tied to the ability of the reader to do different voices. Just like when your dad used to read when you were a kid. If he did the voices, it was like the story was alive!

Anyway, now all of my pleasure reading is done via audiobook. I just finished The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck and I'm starting the 3rd Hunger Games book (the one where Dumbledore dies) because I just need to be done with the series so I can be all, "Did you read it?" to all my teenagers. After that, I'm on to At Play in the Fields of the Lord.

By the way, that book I had to take all this time to recall? It was The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America (1995, John Putnam Demos). I read it in 2008. I liked it. I read all the words.

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