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If You Don't Have Time to Read, Just Listen

Is there anyone who doesn’t enjoy listening to a good story? If your excuse for not reading is that you don’t have time, think again. If you haven’t discovered audio books (either via Audible download or CD), you are missing out on a delightful experience.

I first discovered the joys of audio books years ago, back when cassette tapes were still in vogue. For a short time, I used my lengthy, daily commute as an opportunity to learn (or rather, attempt to learn) a foreign language via cassette tape. More often, however, I listened to the types of books I didn’t have the patience to actually sit down and read. For example, my sister gave me the thirty CD unabridged version of Tolstoy’s ANNA KARENINA for Christmas one year, and I loved it. I’ve actually listened to it a couple of times. As much as I enjoy reading, I doubt I would have tackled the hard copy version of that classic.

I have always found driving to be a consummately boring task, but not when I have a good book on my car’s audio system. During the years I lived in Maryland and drove to New York to visit family, I never made the trip without having an audio book queued up and ready to play. When the cassette player in my car began to chew up tapes, and before I could upgrade it with a built-in CD player, I attempted use of a portable CD player balanced on the passenger seat. Unfortunately, the shock of a decent sized pothole destroyed the delicate mechanism and left me stuck with just the radio for companionship for the duration of that trip. Not fun!

I enjoy listening to a wide-range of genres, any interesting, but not overly complex, story will suffice to make my drive more enjoyable. However, I don’t recommend listening to a novel with an interweaving of complex plot layers (like those by Tom Clancy, or the Thrones series by George R. R. Martin). At least for me, those are a bit too dangerous to take on when at least part of my brain needs to stay focused on the road and the crazy drivers around me. I’ve found biographies and memoirs to be excellent choices, especially when read by their authors.

I think that listening is a much different experience from reading. The characters are somehow more real, and the story more engrossing. Some audio-books, like Bob Simon’s PRETTY BIRD, a compelling novel about the Balkans and the impact of ethnic cleansing on two young women who had been childhood friends, have stayed with me for years.

Whether you download a book, or pop in a CD, audio books are a great way to experience the joy of hearing a story you may not have had the time to read. If you’re like me, however, your trips may sometimes take a bit longer than normal. I’ve been known to drive the long way around, or to sit in my car after I’ve gotten to my destination, because I am so involved in the story plot that I can’t tear myself away.

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