Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Tell Me a Story
In my English-major days, I never dreamt of it. That would be like skipping the book and watching the movie. Or like reading the Cliffs Notes for Moby Dick.
Only wait - I did read the Cliffs Notes for Moby Dick. I did it because I was cornered: I had five literature classes, and was assigned to read a novel a week for each one. If you know anything about my reading style, you know I might better have majored in Physics, because I was more likely to discover Cold Fusion than to read five novels in a week. Ever.
It was a similar desperation that drove me to audiobooks.
I was a young mom, with a home-based night job that kept me entering data long into the next morning, and then left me cross-eyed the following day. With a toddler. And no time to read.
A story-deprived life is no life at all. And besides, something had to keep me awake so I could enter the data. For a while, it was a whacked out radio announcer named Art Bell, who interviewed UFO abductees and werewolves. But even Art Bell went to bed before I did.
Enter Blackstone Audio. In those days, you could go to their website and stream their books - for free, sometimes - over the internet, and they had authors like John Gresham and Maeve Binchy, and those two can keep you awake for hours. Free books, and they helped me stay up and make money. People have gotten hooked on cigarettes for less reason.
I eventually quit the job, but by then, my relationship with audiobooks was established. I found I could exercise and take in a Ray Bradbury story. I could clean house and hear what Malcolm Gladwell had to say.
I could light a candle, lower the lights, lay back in a warm bubblebath, and close my eyes while someone with a wonderful voice read me an absolutely delicious story.
Can you tell? I love that best of all.
Now that my life is busier than it ever has been, I need my audiobooks more than ever. Otherwise I'd starve on only the few minutes in bed I'm awake before I drift off to an exhausted sleep. In effect, I'd practically give up reading altogether. And a story-deprived life is no life at all.
Now Amazon has a nice little thing they call Whispersync, which allows me to read for those few minutes before I fall asleep, picking up right where the audiobook last left off, and then starting the audiobook in the morning right where I stopped reading.
But it's more than mere necessity, this vice of mine.
I'll tell you a secret: Some readers perform the character's voices in ways that make stories even more delicious. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is like that. So is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Or The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski.
How about you? Do you listen to audiobooks? Got any favorites, any with wonderful voices?
Please do tell. I'd love to find another story for my candlelit bubblebath times.