Sometimes its important to take a step back and re-think your assumptions.
For many years I’ve held the attitude that audio books are of little value. It’s a prejudice that stems from my education, which was strongly rooted in a liberal arts background and valued reading, writing and rhetoric. The assumption was that if you listened to a book being read, you were not actively engaged in the reading of the book and for that reason, the act of listening to the book was somehow diluting the value the book itself.
I’ve got a long commute (generally over an hour). Over the years, several people have suggested to me that I try audio books to help pass the time. I have always dismissed this, preferring to listen to the radio or the ipod, including a wide variety of music and some NPR.
I have a great deal of respect for NPR, however, I have been having a really difficult time with the news over the past year and a half. I want to stay informed, but the news is really bogging me down. That being said, I get bored with music on radio and my ipod on a frequent basis. Sometimes I’ve ridden to work in silence.
Yesterday, I finally broke down and purchased an audio book for the car ride. For a variety of reasons I chose On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. First and foremost, I’ve never been able to read the book in it’s entirety. I find the style a little bit difficult to read. The sentences are short. Choppy. Or, they are long and rambling in a manner that makes it difficult to remember the subject when you finally get to the verb; let alone the all the conjunctions and interjections that appear throughout them. In short, the book is written in a manner that many find appealing, but I find hard to read.
Upon listening to the first five chapters on the way to work today, I noticed something interesting. The book is a conversation – albeit in the narrator’s head. Listening to the reader’s voice, I was finally able to identify the reasons for the strange gate of many of the sentences, and quite frankly, it was a thrilling listen.
I’m sure not all books lend themselves to nicely to the audiobook format, but for certain, there are books that are meant to be read aloud. On the Road is one of them.