Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 157: Books on Tape

In preparation for my trip to Lake Tahoe, Day 157's thing I've never done before was to download an audio book (read: book on tape) onto my iPod.

Another unexciting thing I’ve never done before, but this is what happens when it gets to be 11pm the night before you’re leaving for a 5-day trip you haven’t packed for.

I thought the audio book was a perfect option for several reasons: I’d never listened to a book on tape so it was perfect for my trip out west, plus completing the task would be quick and easy.

Despite having never listened to a book on tape before, the pros were not lost on me. Most downloadable books are cheaper than the print version. No book to keep up with, or hold on to (which actually is also a con in my opinion because I enjoy owning and holding a physical book.)

But the best part of an audio book is that you can download whatever you want and not be embarrassed to listen to it, because no one can tell what you're listening to. You can give people around you a discerning look like you're listening to War and Peace when really you've got Danielle Steel's lastest romantic exploits blaring in your ear.

The cons of an audio book, at least on iTunes, is finding the book that I wanted. Their selection is scarce. I decided I would be a good book club member and search for this month's selection, Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl, but my search was in vain. They didn't have such a fine piece of literature. (I know! An outrage!) When that wasn't an option, I debated briefly on purchasing Game Change, a book about the 2008 presidential election. I know, how very intelligent and current of me. I do want to read that book, but I knew now wasn't the time.

I scanned the available titles by my favorite authors and decided on Augusten Burroughs' Magical Thinking, a collection of essays and memoirs. I knew it would be funny, and an easy read. Or is it an easy listen?
Another con about the audio book is the how quickly the sound of the author's voice reading me his book put me to sleep. I started the book right after I purchased it and I fell asleep within five minutes. That's faster than I would have fallen asleep had I been reading the book, and that's hard to do. My inability to stay awake while reading has nothing to do with the book not being hilarious or the author's reading style. I just run myself ragged all day between working, writing, and trying new things that when I finally crawl into bed, I'm ready to sleep. Perhaps this is why it now takes me six months to read a 200-page book?

The same thing happened the next day when I was on the plane and tried to listen again. I put my ear buds in, pressed play and within five minutes, I had drifted off, as the words I was still hearing in my ears became scenes in my dreams.

Listening to an audio book while already in bed or already reclined in a plane seat was a mistake. It was the equivalent of taking Tylenol PM. Perhaps I should try an audio book when I'm alert and driving a car far away when I can stay awake? Or is that just another way to distract myself from driving? What if I can't even finish an audio book? Again, another failure.

Here’s my question about audio books: after you finish listening to one, do you tell people that you've read the book or that you listened to it? Is there a difference?

I'm just wondering.

Anyway, not the best activity for me, or for you to read about, but it put me in travel mode for Lake Tahoe. I promise more fun adventures, with me wearing my tight ski pants from eBay are up ahead.

1 comment:

  1. Audio books seriously changed my life. I've upped my book consumption rate about tenfold since I've been commuting back and forth to SC... and I always tell people I "read" the book because I think it sounds smarter. :)