When I was a little girl, my favorite story -well one of my favorites- was The Velveteen Rabbit. I had it in print of course, but it wasn’t the print version that I fell in love with. I adored the audio book, recorded by Meryl Streep with music by George Winston. Everything about the narration and the piano was perfect for the melancholy story of the threadbare rabbit and the magic that made him real. Even though I haven’t heard it in years I can still hear the cadence of Streep’s haunting voice as she reads. (Still when I jokingly tell a friend that one of my beloved possessions is ‘real’, it’s Meryl Streeps voice I hear in my head.)
For some strange reason that joy of listening to a good audio story didn’t carry over into my adult life. While reading books has always been my #1 past time, it’s always been about print books. Whenever I did try an audio, upon pressure to fit in with my reading friends, it was always a failure. I am incapable of reading while cleaning, laying in a dark room, cooking, and probably exercising if I actually did that. I’d virtually given up on audio’s for good, chalking it up to my brain just not being wired that way.
Despite having given up on repeatedly attempting to listen, I still felt pressure. I was pressuring myself. I wanted to be able to talk about my favorite narrators, or have a debate about the merits of listening versus reading and which version is better for a specific book. I want to be queen guru of all things fiction among my friends, and if I’m not well rounded in all facets of reading than I’m already failing. (We all strive to excel in something, right?) All my internal whining finally led me to try one more time, but with a caveat. I was going to attempt an audio book, something I’d already read, with my daughter during car rides to and from work/school. Luckily I had already purchased the Chaos Walking trilogy long ago and had been pressuring Baby Chick to read the first one, The Knife of Never Letting Go. As an added bonus, I could stop pressuring her to read and was now able to force her to listen!
I’d say it was more than moderately successful. Together we finished the whole book, enjoying about 90%. The other 10% were tears and anger, but that would have happened reading the print version anyway. Plus! While Baby Chick hasn’t listened to another one with me, I’ve gone on to listen to 2 more all by myself, and I have 7 more waiting for me. I’m on a roll, people!
What I now realize is that I’m never going to be able to listen to audio predominately. I will always be a reader first. I know now that I can’t listen to audio and do any other task that requires active thought (cooking, cleaning, probably exercising I don’t do), and I have no interest in being introduced to a new book through an audio, but I really enjoy rereads. It’s a great way to get a new perspective on a story you love.
Next up I’ll be doing just that, getting a new perspective on an old favorite, Jellicoe Road audio! I also get to force -I mean share with my Baby Chick!
My Mother started listening to books when she found less and less free time to pick up a book. Over the past 15 years she has primarily listened to books and was able to get my Dad to start listening to books. I can listen to books or read them. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read or listen to a book in over a year. Crazy!
I know a lot of people like that, who listen at least as much as they read. I guess I’m just not wired that way. If there’s something else going on I find it way too easy to tune out.
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