Speak to Me

i have discovered another new pleasure. i’m probably one of the last people to have actually begun listening regularly to audio books, but i find that i have quickly become addicted. our daughter, e, has been listening to audio books for quite some time – she is a person who has spent a lot of time touring on busses while performing in drum corps or more recently, driving to and from her job so audio books are a godsend. she actually bought the subscription service because it is immensely more cost effective than paying for individual books. i’m not quite there yet, and i have to admit that there is a part of me that still feels obliged to make sure authors are compensated.

i started listening to audio books by accident when i was downloading the brief and wonderous life of oscar wao by junot diaz and i clicked on the option for the ebook and audio book combination instead of just the ebook. i could have cancelled the transaction, but i thought i would read some of the book and then listen to some of the book just to see if i like it. well, i was so enraptured with the audio version of the book that i never went back to reading the text of the book.

i’m glad this was the first novel i listened to because diaz’s writing is so lyrical and story so startling that it transports you sometimes to a place you want to go and sometimes to a place from which you want to quickly escape. on more than one day i had to take a pause and clear the story out of my head before i got out of the car.

sadly, i finished the book and went on an all-out search for another. it was hard to imagine how some of the bestsellers would sound compared to diaz’s writing so i decided to search for another literary book. i’m not a really fast reader of literary books since i tend to mull over words and sentence construction and ponder a bit. i looked at a lot of classics and as tempting as they were, the reviews of the narration were often bad. there’s some kind of crime in hiring an unskilled actor read extraordinary writing.

i finally decided to download wise blood by flannery o’conner. i always loved flannery o’conner’s writing but hearing it read is equally as satisfying, maybe even moreso because this narrator is very good.

to spend my drive time being submerged in the story and the language and vivid description contained in these kinds of books is extraordinary. i find myself repeating some of the most exquisite lines out loud. by the time i get to work or home from work, i feel as though i’m in an entirely new world, on in which the ordinariness of just another day has been transformed.

i also find myself positively influenced in other ways like using a broader vocabulary, an enhanced descriptive ability and suddenly being able to notice more interesting characters around me than just mundane stereotypes.

trust me, i’m still reading books – often two at a time – but listening to a book, especially and wonderfully written book, has been a transformative experience for me.

it’s commonly said that “you are what you eat”, and i believe the same is true for what we listen to and watch. well, I still watch some junk tv but the balance has been tipped.

fyi, the app i’m using is audible
but i know that books are also available on itunes.


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