>> Monday, July 17, 2006
And I have to say “thank you, Portland radio”. Two thirds of my daily commute to and from work is a ride on a light rail train system. This is great for a reader. I get 20 minutes each way to read and not feed road rage. I love that I have this time. The other third of my commute is the 10-12 minute drive between my house and the park and ride lot. A couple of years ago I suddenly realized that in that ‘drive-time’ I was almost always listening to commercials and inane banter (trust me, Portland drive-time radio stinks!). After one day when I left my house in the morning and heard nothing but a solid block of commercials the entire trip to the park and ride, I’d had it. I stopped at the library on the way home that night and picked up a book on tape. It was Patty Jane’s House of Curl by Lorna Landvik. It wasn’t a book I had been seriously looking forward to reading, but several of the folks in my online booklovers group had enjoyed it. I figured it would be a good one to try. If I didn’t like listening to a book in the car, it wouldn’t be a book I really cared about. I really wondered if listening to a book in 10 minute time slots would make it too chopped up to enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised that I really enjoyed listening to a book when I was in the car alone. It definitely kept me interested way more than Portland radio stations did.
These days I always have a book on tape, cd, or on my ipod (plugged into the car stereo via cassette tape adapter). It’s quite unusual for me to be driving by myself without a book playing, even if it’s just the quick drive to the gym. I also use the books I have on my ipod for listening while walking (I walk in a lot of 5k events and it’s great to listen to a book if I’m not walking with a friend).
My husband and I now listen to books together when we take road trips. We’ve been working our way through Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (which I’ve read, but he hasn’t) and Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who . . . series. Both of these make for great road trip books.
I’m pretty picky about what I’ll listen to. Because I do tend to listen in small chunks of time, I don’t like to listen to complicated mysteries or non-fiction. The lighter mysteries are fine. I have learned that a good reader can make an Okay book better, but the wrong reader can absolutely ruin a great book. I definitely have some favorite readers (George Guidall and Barbara Rosenblat are both awesome). I have also found that listening is a good way to do some of the ‘classics I’ve never read’, as well as some books that are overloaded with description (cough, cough, Jean Auel, cough, cough) so I can sort of fade out until the action kicks in again.