Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On being read to...

Yesterday, on the way down to see my mother (just over an hour's drive on the highway) I started listening to the audio book of  Sue Monk Kidd's "The Mermaid Chair."
Lovely book. When I got home last night I was reluctant to stop, I wanted to go driving on into the night, being read to.

For some time I tried to bluff that my decor for it was the "distressed look" but it had gone from being distressed to being in downright agony and shrieking "torture!" and it was time to bite the bullet again. I'd already spend several weekends on it and this was a long weekend — Monday was a public holiday. Everyone else I knew was going away on the last long weekend before winter, but my only plans involved getting this wretched job finished, if it killed me

I made my usual visit to the library during the week and the audio book section caught my eye. There was a book by a favorite author on it that I hadn't read. I checked the catalogue, and all the books by her were out, so I looked at the audio version and thought, why not?

By the end of the weekend, the vestibule was all done, and I'd even managed to wash down the wall in preparation for the undercoat of sealing paint. And although my arms and shoulders were aching, I didn't feel as though I'd passed a weekend in endless drudgery, I felt instead as though I'd been naughty and spent an entire weekend reading. It was wonderful. 

The following weekend I listened to more books as I painted. The surface was still so bad a normal coat of paint would show up every faint pock mark, so I ragged it (painted on the paint roughly and while it was still wet, blotted it with a rag) and I really loved the textured result. That's it behind the tulips.

The most fantastic thing was that the nasty, dreary job not only had a great outcome, but that I'd felt like I'd been given a treat by having all those books read to me. And because the selection isn't huge in my library, I tried some authors new to me and found some I really liked.

So now, whenever I have a mundane household task to do — cleaning out cupboards or regrouting tiles or whatever, I grab an audio book. My hands are perfectly capable of carrying on and getting the job done while my brain is in the world of the book.

And lately, as I've been driving down to see Mum more often, the stories not only make the time fly, they're a comfort. These days I'm not so impatient and it's such a treat to be read to.

So what about you? Do you like to listen to audio books or have someone read to you? Or if you still prefer to do it all yourself, where's your favorite place to read?


  1. I've never tried audio books, though I might have to now! Actually my daughter has a tape of Witches that she sometimes puts on to fall asleep to and I really enjoy it and always end up listening, so maybe I should give them a go!
    Thanks Anne
    Carol Marinelli

  2. I've only heard some non-fiction books in audio format, and maybe one fiction book - I actually had read the book and wanted to see what the audio version was like. Unfortunately it was abridged. So that was a disappointment that I haven't tried again since. But I think I will give it another go after reading your post Anne. Especially when doing those jobs that drag along.

  3. Carol I love it s it gets me through a boring job, and yet I feel as though I've had a treat instead. And if you spend time driving kids around and waiting to pick them up from various things, it can make the waiting time fly, too.

    Eleni, yes, some of them are abridged, but if I like a book I've heard, I'll read it as well, in full.

  4. Audiobooks! I am a huge, HUGE fan! Few days go by that I don't have an unabridged audiobook playing on my stereo or my portable CD player. I have almost all of the Georgette Heyer Regencies in audiobook format (listening to The Talisman Ring right now). I also have all of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and all 21 of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, including his last unfinished book. Oh, and the entire Harry Potter series, narrated by the wonderful Jim Dale.

    Narrators can make or break an audiobook, and that's why I like those produced by Recorded Books. They use professional actors who breathe life into the stories. I listen to my audiobooks over and over, never tiring of them.

    I love listening to audiobooks. I was never read to as a child, and I find I quite like the experience as an adult. Also (and this is going to sound a little weird), I live alone, and having a favorite audiobook playing as I do housework or play computer solitaire or work in the garden is like having a comfortable old friend in the house.

    I love your new picture, Anne! You look so pretty, so glamorous.

  5. I agree with you about the importance of the narrators, Sherrie. And it's not just the reading, and expression it's the accent. The Mermaid Chair was read by a woman with a beautiful soft southern accent -- perfect for the story and added that slight touch of atmosphere without it being overdone. I haven't heard the Jim Dale recordings -- I had an idea that Stephen Fry read at least one of the Harry Potters, so it would be interesting to compare.

    And it makes sense to me to have a book playing while you're doing other things. We can multitask, and why not have a treat while you're doing something less thrilling?

    Thanks for the comments about the new picture. I was on TV the other day and the makeup artist made me look so much nicer -- I guess that's the point, LOL -- so afterward I took a few pics on my computer and that's one of them.

  6. Love audio books in the car and love plays on the radio -- perfect for when there's a pile of ironing to get through. And we continued to read to our kids long after they were reading proper books. Sunday morning and everyone piled into the big bed with tea, toast and Daddy reading Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes is still a blissful memory for all of us.

  7. Hi Anne! Love your books that I have read so far and looking forward to those I've yet to get. So great to find your blog!

    I'm deaf so I don't use audio books and my daughter who's not much of a reader, I tried to encourage her to try audio books and maybe she'll 'read' more! My son on the other hand is so a book-oholic like me :)

    I love reading before sleeping in my bed and too on the couch. I don't go a day without reading. On good days, I love to go under the tree and relax and read! Beautiful to be out when its not very hot and to get all that fresh air. I too like to go into a library and find a chair and just bunch up and read!!

  8. Anne, I am another that has never listened to an audio book but I might just try it. I too, prefer to have the book in my hand and snuggle up for a good read, especially if it is raining or I am in bed. Congratulations on your blog. Well done!

  9. I listen as a captive in a car, but I usually listen to CDs of lectures in family history and try to apply them to my plots as well.

  10. Guess I'll have to start listening to audiobooks. But I need to find the time. Too bad I can't listen to someone else's book while I'm trying to meet my own deadline!