Sunday, February 15, 2015

How Do You Read?

I haven't done so very much reading so far this year. I tried a non-fiction but kept getting bogged down; it was a heavy christian-atheist book. Some parts were good, but others were very tedious.

Then I found that Peter Robinson had a relatively new Inspector Banks volume out. These books focus on police procedure more than suspense and heroics, and that has both its upsides and downsides. I was pleased to get it but surprised myself by finishing it so quickly. It being in epub format, I can't easily tell whether it was shorter than average or what.

Since then, I am reading Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior (and man alive, do I ever want to stick a 'u' in behavior). She's most famous for her Poisonwood Bible,  which I read many moons ago, and I have appreciated a number of her works since then. Except, I misrepresent myself when I say that I am reading it, for I am listening to it.

Sue prefers to listen to books, especially while she is crocheting throws for the kids, so we have a subscription to audible.com.

Listening is a different experience. It slows me down because I can't skim over descriptive passages or speed read when the going gets exciting. When I slow down, I get deeper into the story. This is good, and being read to is pleasant if you have the right book and right reader. I really enjoyed getting deep and protractedly into two Louise Penny mysteries a few months ago as well as two JK Rowling mysteries written under the Robert Galbraith penname.

The drawback to reading through listening is the same as its strength: it slows you down, and every part gets the same weight. This is not always good; some parts really deserve to be skimmed.

This is especially true in Kingsolver's Flight Behavior. The book teaches a lot about ecology and even a bit about life and mindsets in Appalachian Tennessee. I appreciate that, but it does tend to get very tedious in this slow moving novel replete with all sorts of pedagogical and pedantic dialogue. Although it is wearying me a bit, I will finish it, maybe even today, which is so cold that I refuse to stick my head out the door. What a cold two months it has been with no relief in sight: coldest patch for 20 years or so they say.

Anyway, getting back to listening vs. reading, I like both methods. It sure is nice to get deep into the book and having a good book last for awhile when I listen, but it is also nice to read at my own pace. If you haven't tried the listening method, you might consider it as an alternative.


13 comments:

EG CameraGirl said...

I'm afraid I might fall asleep if I listened to a book. TV puts me to sleep. Well, the commercials do. :)

Shammickite said...

I always have 2 or 3 library books on the bedside table, usually I fill the hot water bottle, snuggle down with it under my knees and read a few chapters before dozing off. I keep a list of all the books I read, mostly fiction.

Lorna Cunningham-Rushton said...

Except for the Barbara Kingsolver books, I've read all the ones you talked about, some on paper, some digital. Every oncein a while, I like an audiobook---especially when I'm driving, except that once, I had to park for an hour so I could read the end before I got to my destination. For me, it's all about the stories, and the medium is superficial.

ADRIAN said...

I have never tried an audio book.

Is the latest Inspector Banks novel Abattoir Blues?

chickensconsigliere said...

I don't read as much as I used to or as much as I'd like. Distraction is the main issue and I blame my love of the internet. I jump from book to book, a few pages here, a few pages there. Basically, I surf books like I surf the net. A few months ago, I found the NPR station for my area and I listen to it all the time now. I've found that I really like getting my information this way, so I think I would also enjoy audio books. You know, I heard (on NPR) that Audio is the next big thing, just as Video/youtube for the general public became the big new thing a few years back.

Jimmie Earl said...

I just finished my 16th book for 2015. Fifteen of those were fiction and one autobiography. I have to keep a list of what I read, and since I utilize my public library, they have a list of my "check-outs" in case I get there without my list. (I don't even have to show they my card anymore..they know me by sight.) Try Jonathan Kellerman's work. I find them delightfully thrilling and hard to put down. I like Ken Follett's works, too. They are mostly very long, but you might like them on audio, especially if your hands get tired of holding a tome!! "Pillars of the Earth" by Follett was wonderful, but very long.
I don't care for audio books. It is different reading the "more seamy"parts and swear words than it is to listen to them. It's just a little idiosyncrasy of mine.Ha!

Donna said...

I've tried listening...can't do it. Constantly waiting for the inflections to be used correctly and drives me nuts when they're not!Hahaa...They all sound like a robot.
hughugs

Hilary said...

Before I got into photography, I often had an audio book on the go. I'd take it walking with me. Now I take my camera instead.

KGMom said...

AC--as I get older (having just passed a decade milestone...ahem) I find I am having more difficulty concentrating. Flitting comes much easier...so I read a bit, then flit, I FB a bit, then flit, I knit a bit, then flit...
I too love Barbara Kingsolver, although Flight BehavioUr (so spelled so you don't cringe) less engaging than other books she wrote. Certainly Poisonwood Bible is the top of my list, but I also liked her earlier novels--The Bean Trees; Pigs in Heaven. I also liked Prodigal Summer--also an environmental theme but less heavy handed that Flight BehavioUr.
As for listening to books (while I knit)--I know I would get lost in my knitting pattern--and I would either lose my place in the book, or lose my place in the pattern.
SIGH--the vagaries of aging.

Hena Tayeb said...

i don;t think i could listen to a book.. i would find myself tuning in and out of it.. missing parts because i got distracted..

Mary Gilmour said...

I have to speed read! Have to. I usually read a worthy book at least twice, once for plot and action and again for language, detail and slower enjoyment.
Hmm, maybe I should try listening the second time. I have a whole bunch of knitting that is not getting knit.

Kerry said...

A few years ago I made a road trip with our daughter who was moving across the country to go to grad school. We borrowed a bunch of audio books from the library, got out on the highway packed to the gill in her little Nissan,put a book in the cd player...and there was so much road noise in that rattletrap car that we couldn't hear a single thing! We laughed ourselves silly. I haven't tried listening to a book since then, although I do like podcasts.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

As one who has only listened to a couple of audio books, oddly enough while working in the kitchen, I found that this post has made me think why not try an audio book again...so thanks for the push, AC. However, I do wholeheartedly agree with your comment that some parts of a book need to be skimmed over!