Wednesday, April 20, 2016
an audible addiction
So I pretty much could just read all the time. I'm sure if there was a problem with reading, like if people all over the world were doing it too much, if gangs were killing each other on the streets, eking out their turf so they could sell illicit books to unsuspecting people (normal people, you know, just like me and you, someone you never thought would get sucked in by Jodi Picoult or Stephen King), people whose Amazon accounts were being frozen and whose neighbours watched, through the curtains, as Canada Post pulled up yet again, with a brown parcel that you just knew contained books, I'd be the first to go down with an Addiction, capital A.
In grade seven I used to read under my desk. I know, such a nerd. I would put the book on my lap, or in the grey drawer that pulled open to reveal the mess of erasers and pencil cases, and set the book on top. I'd pretend to listen while my eyes skimmed quickly over the addictive pages of a choose your own adventure or, truth be told, pretty much anything I could get my hands on. My teacher caught me and, after checking out whatever junk I was reading, put another book on my desk. Here, he said, peering at me through the gold rimmed glasses he wore, if you're going to read something, make it something good. So I read the book, the one that created a lifelong and intense fear of nuclear war. It was a book that I've forever wished I could recall the title to*, about a group of people living underground, because the entire above ground earth had been annihilated by nuclear war. I'm not sure if his intent was to frighten me out of reading during class or spark a revolution, one grade seven kid at a time, but he managed half of each. I was frightened, for sure, and he did spark a revolution in my mind, but it never got any further than that.
Anyways, I've never been able to shake it, the feeling that I'd pretty much rather read a book than do anything else. I keep them stacked everywhere, just in case. In the car, my bedroom, by the tub, in the kitchen. I've perfected standing up reading, reading while people are talking, reading in cars (which induces motion sickness, but still), reading in the pool, on the step, at the park. But I couldn't get over the fact that these three blessed children and one blessed husband plus activities and grocery shopping and meal planning, let alone preparing and eating, and all the other crap (let's face it, compared to reading it pretty much is crap), I couldn't get over the fact that there was so much time in my day where I'd rather be reading but couldn't.
I know, I know, it's been available for years and before that even there were books on tape and then books on CD. I thought, yes, that would come in handy. If I become blind, that is. I just couldn't stomach the idea of a) not owning the physical book, like one I can put on my shelf, and b) the idea that someone would be reading to me. I figured I'd drift off, never be able to pay attention, constantly snapping back to the feeling of holy shit, did I just ignore a whole chapter????
But someone I like and respect (deadly combo) suggested Audible and I thought, okay. I'll try. Give it a go. So I downloaded a book, not one I was terribly interested in because I didn't want to waste this book on something good. And crikey if I didn't just fall in love. I mean, let me be real, here, I downloaded The Martian, which I had already seen as the movie, and this also goes against the grain of everything I Believe To Be True About Reading, which is in a nutshell, that if there is a book it is better than the movie (sole exception to this is The Green Mile which is outstanding as movie versus so-so as novella), and if I've read the book I will never watch the movie (proved true by watching of Still Alice, with husband, where every two seconds I was interjecting with, but they just skimmed over this, it was SO much better in the book).
So I listend to The Martian and I was hooked. I propped up my phone in the kitchen while I cooked, and listened and listened. I hooked it to the little cord in my van (old van) and listened and listened while I drove and drove. I put it on the counter in the laundry room and now I can bear folding laundry, an historically unbearable task. And then I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert read to me in her wonderful own voice about being creative, and I listened to seventeen hours of my book club book, The Shoemaker's Wife, and I listened to books I would've never bought and read on paper. Like Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, in his own hilarious voice, and The Biology of Belief, by Bruce Lipton in his stilted voice. And by gosh, there is something, something, to listening to a book versus reading it on paper. I'm not sure I can put my finger on it, but there is something intimate and personal and leisurely all at once, listening.
I'm hooked. Try it. You'll see.
*Please forward any suggestions about what that book could've been called, I'd like to re-read it with an adult's gaze now, perhaps if only to release some of its dreadful power over my imagination.