Monday, 17 February 2014
In response to Laura's Circle of Pine Trees Year in Books, I present my state-of-the-art reading equipment. It is two very cheap USB-chargeable speakers, plugged into a Playaway book from the library, using a two-way headphone splitter. The happy fact that one speaker has a longer wire than the other means that I can balance one of the speakers on the car dashboard to my left; one to my right. I drive a lot now, as I take Eldest to the Distant School, and listen to one book when she's in the car, one when I'm alone.
Our last choice was Sherlock Holmes' Hound of the Baskervilles, downloaded from Librivox, with the state-of-the-art reading equipment plugged into my phone. But when Eldest is safely in school, I unplug and get straight back into Brady Udall's The Lonely Polygamist, which I knew I would love as soon as I saw the author's name. Years ago I read The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, and can remember very little of it (I don't have a good memory for books at all) except that I loved it. Every word.
One of the alarming things about a Playaway book is having no clue at all, really, how far you are away from the end of the book. It's beguiling. Your whole idea of what plot point is important, depending on how many pages have passed, is lost. In addition, you don't get to skip bits. I'm a proper skim-reader, especially if I'm excited by what's coming next. Audiobooks don't let you do that: they make you concentrate on every word, enjoying the language and the seemingly unimportant detail. So far I've come across only one narrator whom I really can't stand: I can only hope that his tremendous back catalogue doesn't include anything I desperately want to read in future.