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Monday, 17 February 2014

Reading aloud


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.

9 comments:

  1. The technology involved leaves me astounded. I have a combined tape, CD and radio thing on which I listen to Alan Bennett most evenings, would that count?

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  2. I've tried a couple of audio books, but I don't like to hear men reading female parts in high whiny falsettos, so I'm looking for someone I can stand listening to. Audio books in the car are a great idea though, you will be so well read!

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  3. Velly intelesting.
    My husband used to get through dozens of audio books when he was repping, and driving miles, years ago. I listened to one or two with him and found them unexpectedly gripping. Like you, I am a terrible skim reader, quite often having to go back and re-read bits...

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  4. When I am stitching away in my sewing room I ALWAYS have an audio book on the go. And what you say is absolutely correct. I am also a speed reader and it is only actually having to sit and listen to those passages I would normally skip over, has made me realise how long winded some of my favourite authors actually are! Some of Ruth Rendell and PD James more recent books are SO wordy, I think they have somewhat lost the plot, and only by listening do you realise. However. it doesn't stop me enjoying either a good listen or a good read!

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  5. I am a big fan of audio books, too. I have an Audible subscription for two audiobooks a month. I must investigate the lonely polygamist, the title is intriguing. Happy listening. C

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  6. Oh whew, my name is Gillie and I am a skim reader....... so glad not to be alone ! Would love to know who you can't stand.......

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  7. I listened to Dracula whilst I was on a running mad fad... weird choice I know, but it kept me going. Each chapter was read by a different person and ... oh boy... there was this one from NOOOOUVA SCOOOSSSHHIA... that drove me insane. DRHHHHACHUULAAAH... BY BRRRHAAAAM....ahhhhhhhhh

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  8. Such a good idea to while away those hours in the car. Glad that you are joining in. x

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