aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
For me, the issue is time. In New York I spent more time waiting--waiting for and riding the train, waiting in line, waiting for everything. In that time I’d read magazines and books.
Here I seldom wait; but I do spend more time in the car. The audio book is my friend. And I am not alone:
Fewer Americans are reading books than a decade ago, according to the National Endowment for the Arts, but almost a third more are listening to them on tapes, CD’s and iPods.
For a growing group of devoted listeners, the popularity of audio books is redefining the notion of reading, which for centuries has been centered on the written word. Traditionally, it is also an activity that has required one’s full attention.
But audio books, once seen as a kind of oral CliffsNotes for reading lightweights, have seduced members of a literate but busy crowd by allowing them to read while doing something else.
I’d like an option to have (and in a few instances have bought) both, because I want to refer back to the text as a reference, more difficult to do with audio books. I’ve taken to writing down or remembering specific quotes so that I can use the search inside feature on Amazon to find the citation I’m looking for.
Among the questions facing audio book connoisseurs are: Which is better suited to the format, fiction or nonfiction? Can a bad narrator ruin a great book? If you’ve listened to a book, have you really “read” it?
I read noon-fiction but my guess is fiction is better, fewer lists of statistics and figures. Yes, a bad narrator ruins a good book, and yes, if you listen you’ve read it. How many buyers have bound books on coffee table display then shelved without ever reading it? My experience hints at many.
Audio book aficionados face disdain from some book lovers, who tend to rhapsodize about the smell and feel of a book in their hands and the pleasure of being immersed in a story without having to worry about the car in the next lane.
The smell and feel arguments were once used (by me!) about reading online too.
I’m disappointed with the selection and speed of availability, both of which will improve (and in the meantime, ITConversations fills the gap). But I will be taking advantage of this audible.com special offer.
I was wonderfully impressed by my doctor and the Macon Medical Center staff. Everything was as they said: I remember not a thing past the Demerol; the hard part’s the prep. And the prep was both better and worse than expected. Better because I didn’t have to drink the gallons of gunk, instead a glass last night and another this morning. Bad but not that bad.
Worse because this morning, when I had planned to dash off a quick post saying what’s up, I was instead wracked with migraine and heaving on the bathroom floor. Now that was bad.
But all’s well that ends well. It’s a beautiful day in Georgia. Burgers on the grill and a birthday party tonight. Next time I’ll prepare my morning post in advance.