Books on Tape? Michele Shrugged

I blame Ayn Rand; however, I credit Syliva Schick Young.

For anyone who loves to read and feels as though time doesn’t permit the luxury, recorded books are a viable and enjoyable answer. I, in fact, have become a bit of an addict. My book club pal, Sylvia, told me about a site called Audible.com. It’s a fantastic source—a reliable dealer—offering a low cost membership and monthly book credits.

The first book I ordered and subsequently downloaded from Audible.com was Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, a 1200-page epic novel that I started reading in hardback version far too late to finish for our October meeting. Never mind that I’d had the book on my shelf for 15 years, before our club selected it. I couldn’t seem to find the time to devote to reading this tome. And then once I got into it, I realized I didn’t have the hours it would take to finish it by simply sitting in a chair and reading.

I, like EVERY modern woman, needed to multitask.

This is how books on tape or audible books became invaluable for me. One can listen in the car, listen while working out, or even listen the way I did, while designing a new jewelry line.

Atlas Shrugged, a story about American business tycoons involved with things like railroads and metals, depicted a distinct characterization between the producers and the consumers in a capitalist society. Allowing the flavor of the book to color my choices of silver and copper in my work (as I decided to absolutely be a PRODUCER), I felt good about myself, and my work.

This, by the way, was in spite of the fact that I ultimately detested the novel, and wanted to murder the narrator. Still, I’ll never forget the experience. Is it because I read it or listened to it? Or was it because I discussed it at Tucson’s most intellectual book club where Sylvia was the host?

Hmmmmmm.

I’m one of those avid readers who won’t go anywhere without a book. Now that I’m not writing a novel, I’m back to satisfying my voracious appetite for reading novels. Right now, I’m reading one and listening to another. I realize I’d come across as a complete nerd if I listed how many I’ve tackled since sending in my manuscript for editing during the last week of February. . . so, I won’t. But I will disclose the way it works:
I listen at home and I read on the road.

Because I don’t always know when I’ll be waiting in line—or waiting somewhere—I always keep a book handy. I know when I’ll be stuck in the waiting room of my kid’s orthodontist office, for example, so whipping out a book (provided I remember to bring my reading glasses) helps pass the time.

Right now I’m listening to Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos (outstanding) and reading The Sunday Wife by Cassandra King (wife of Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides). I had the funny experience of meeting Cassandra King at the Tucson Festival of Books, which prompted my desire to buy her book. We met in a bathroom, where I had to rescue and escort her to her proper lecture venue. She, along with my actual charge, novelist Barbara Samuels Oneal, were both delightful. (I should mention that I enjoyed the one of seven novels published by B.S.O. that I read after meeting her). Meanwhile, King signed my copy of The Sunday Wife: “Thank you for seeking me out.”

It’s important to note that audible books owe a great deal to their recorded narrators. Sometimes authors read and it’s awful and detached. Other times, authors like Barbara Kingsolver read (High Tide in Tucson and The Lacuna) and it’s impossible not to marvel at their talents for both writing and performing. I listened to six of the seven Harry Potter books on CD (while cleaning my cabins at Sandy Point Resort), read by the amazing Jim Dale. This was a reader so gifted that I never had to wait for a “said Harry” or “said Hermione” to know which character was speaking.

But the actor or orator or whatever you want to call him that read Atlas Shrugged made me want to kill someone. The taped version of the book was some 54 hours long, and because of the way he impersonated the female lead, Dagny Taggert, I couldn’t’ help but visualize her has a transsexual rather than a strong, female lead.

Couple that experience with the positive hours spent with Dale and the Harry Potter series, and you realize that books are still all about the reader’s (or listener’s) ability to use her imagination and be entertained.

Check out Audible.com when you want to read but need to multi-task. Tell ‘em Michele sent ya.

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