Sunday, November 27, 2011

Did You Notice the Word ‘Random’ in my Title?

Being a writer, by definition, means being a reader as well. You can’t write, without reading. Today’s post is more about reading than writing.

I just returned from the airport after taking my son out for his flight home following the Thanksgiving festivities. And this morning I had another mission on my mind besides the obvious airport farewell scene. Despite many opportunities to purchase Colin Meloy’s book Wildwood, (including at Wordstock where he read from the book), I finally decided that today was the day: I had to get that book into my hands! So I said my goodbyes, gave hugs, and hurried over to the tiny airport Powell’s Books store (you gotta love Portland!) to make my purchase. Now, Colin, best known as the lead singer of the Decemberists, is a Portland boy, and the book is set here, but I was still surprised that they had only ONE copy left. I snatched it up, like a forlorn puppy at the pound, and it now awaits that moment when I finally get to open its beautiful cover and delve into the world of the Impassable Wilderness!     My book as it waits patiently for its reader:

Three years ago my good friend Chris convinced me that I should try listening to audiobooks. Not in place of my regular reading of course, but in addition to. I had argued with him for months that I am not an auditory person, and could never follow a book I listened to. But I’m always trying to find ways to grow new dendrites in my brain to offset any possible onset of the Alzheimer’s disease that took my father, so I finally gave in, thinking it would at the very least be good for my brain, and at best be entertaining. Now, three years later I have plenty of new dendrites, and have been greatly entertained. My ipod goes on trips, accompanies me while gardening, and is always there while cleaning or cooking. But there is always this feeling of “not really reading a book” when I listen to one. Like I’m cheating. This morning’s New York Times Book Review has two articles that address this issue. One poses the thesis that audiobooks are more true to the literary spirit, in that literature began as oral storytelling. The other could have been written by me: the author has experienced that feeling of being a fraud for listening to books. Both are excellent and if you do ‘read’ audiobooks, or have thought of doing so, check them out. “The Mind’s Ear” by James Parker, and “Wired for Sound” by John Schwartz in today’s NYTimes Book Review.

Happy Reading!