Posted by: Ted Balcom
Do you listen to audiobooks?
I do. In fact, I’m addicted to them. I particularly listen to them in the car, whenever I’m driving somewhere. I started doing it when I was still working and spent two hours every day commuting. I’m retired now, but I can’t break the habit because I really enjoy listening to them. Sometimes when I get home, I have to sit in the driveway listening until I get to the end of a chapter — I can’t bear to go into the house until I know just a little more of the story!
I’m still reading books, too, but what I like about audiobooks is that, strangely, they seem to give me permission to dip into works I might never pick up in the standard printed format. I’ve always liked mystery stories, but I rarely read them. Now I find myself listening to them — and eagerly rushing to the library to check out more. That’s how I discovered Ian Rankin, and in a couple of months, I’ll be leading a discussion of his Resurrection Men in my book group.
Yes, audiobooks are providing me with suggestions for book discussions! It happened last year with Falling Angels, by Tracy Chevalier, and last month with Digging to America, by Anne Tyler. Obviously these aren’t mystery stories, but books I first became acquainted with through the audio format. Falling Angels is a story of two families in England, just after the death of Queen Victoria; they are neighbors, but members of slightly different classes, and although the daughters develop a friendship, there is tension between the mothers, played out against the background of the rising suffragette movement. The audio version is read, beautifully, by Anne Twomey, and I was completely drawn in to the setting and the characters, so much that I wanted to discuss the book with my group.
Digging to America, the discussion of which I reported on in a previous post, is read by one of my favorite narrators, the skilled actress Blair Brown. She has the ability to bring great nuance to the dialogue of the characters. I enjoy her reading so much that I now expressly look for titles she has recorded. Another book that she read, The Senator’s Wife, by Sue Miller, also intrigued me to the extent that I have scheduled it for discussion later in the year.
So you see, you never know where your ideas for book discussions may come from! I’m getting mine, just driving along and keeping my ears open.