I may start to sound like a broken record because I tend to talk about some of the same things over and over and over. Alas, I will NOT be talking about real estate or my impending move (even though, these days, I could probably talk about all my angst over those topics every. single. day.)
Today, I’m talking books. One book, in particular. It’s called “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. If you haven’t read it, plan to read it, and/or are in the middle of reading it, don’t worry. YOU WON’T FIND ANY SPOILERS HERE! So you can keep reading my post.
But a book that is this important and has such an impact on me… well, I just couldn’t NOT talk about it.
I personally love to read books. I’ve always been a reader. I actually started reading at the tender age of 4 with a large collection of Dr. Seuss books and I haven’t stopped since.
As I moved into high school, my dislike of literature put the brakes on some of my “reading for pleasure” mojo. You can have your “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” and your Charles-Dickens-endlessly-long-descriptions-of-the-outside-of-a-brick-building type novels. I’ll take the Cliff Notes.
Then I discovered pop fiction. I read every single Michael Crichton and John Grisham book. I picked up a taste for the milder novels of Stephen King (one of my favorite novelists) and then eventually moved on to the non-fiction realm. I love Sebastian Junger, Jon Krakauer, and any novel about Africa, mountain climbing, true crime, or polar exploration. Um, yeah. I never said I was easy to define.
And then I had a baby…
I could end my post right there because if you are a parent, you know exactly what that means. It means that you are lucky if you can keep your eyes open long enough to breeze through the fashion police section of Us Weekly, let alone actually comprehend a bestselling novel on the New York Times list.
You eventually find that your children get older and your free time opens up a little and your brain starts to return to a state of normalcy. But if you are a parent who blogs, you probably end up spending that time getting caught up on blog posts, Facebook updates, and maybe a few tweets. Where is the time for good old fashioned reading?
I found the secret. It’s listening to audiobooks.
I listened to my first book a few years ago at the strong recommendation of Stephen King. He recommended a little known story that couldn’t find a publisher and instead was released exclusively as an audiobook, called “The Memory of Running” by Ron McLarty. He recommended listening to it. So I did.
I respect Stephen King (he’s one of my favorite authors) and I listened. I was mesmerized for a couple of reasons. First, the story is an amazing one. Second, the story was read by the author (always my preference) and third, the author is actually a successful character actor. He knows how to read the story. His story.
I listened to a few more. Some were read by authors who don’t make very good readers but the story still held my interest. Some were read by good readers but the story bored me out of my mind. I was entranced by “The DaVinci Code.” I knew the characters intimately, including their accents. I fell in love with David Sedaris (in a strictly platonic way, obviously).
Then I fell off the audible.com wagon. I ran out of time or credits or money. Or I discovered blogging.
Recently, I’ve found a huge chunk of time on my hands that I can’t spend online. I’ve been driving back and forth to Baltimore while we try to figure out our moving situation. That’s about 5 hours each way. And there’s only so much of a children’s DVD that I can take.
I struggled with which book to start with since I’m so out of the loop on modern fiction. I heard familiar names thrown my way but in the end, I listened to a sample of “The Help” and it sounded like something I might like.
I listened intently to the narrations of two black maids working for nice white ladies in 1960s Mississippi. I listened to one of the nice white ladies narrate her portions of the story. I created an Oscar-worthy movie in my mind. I laughed. I cried. It was better than Cats.
As a result of spending my driving time listening to a NYT bestseller, I discovered a couple of things.
- I miss reading. A lot.
- Listening to a book can be almost as much fun as reading it and it exercises your audio comprehension skills.
- The words came alive and I found that it inspired my own writing.
- My attention was focused on the story and my hands thankfully stayed off of my phone (no texting or tweeting behind the wheel!)
- Time flies when you are totally engrossed in a story.
If you aren’t going on a roadtrip, you can still listen to a story. I listen in snippets in the car. I put on headphones while cleaning or doing dishes. I put my iPhone on speaker when I’m getting ready in the morning or taking a bath.
If you haven’t read book in a while and want to, consider listening to one for a change. And if you need a suggestion, I think “The Help” is one of the best books I never read.