Fandango’s Provocative Question #191

With all of the possible distractions, do you read books as much now as you used to ten, twenty, or thirty years ago? Why or why not?

Back when I was working and commuting insane distances from home to work, Audiobooks (back then it was “BooksOnTape” and after that “Recorded Books“) saved me from losing my mind. At one point, I was commuting 140 miles each way from Uxbridge, MA to Groton, CT. It’s a long drive. Half of it was on unmarked little roads in strange areas of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Unmarked one lane roads through farmland that all looked the same.

That was when I discovered two important things that changed my world. I needed something to occupy my mind. Music wasn’t doing it and I needed a GPS.

GPS’s had just been invented and were expensive and hard to find. If anyone needed one, I was that person. I have no sense of direction at the best of times but on this commute I’d get lost somewhere in Rhode Island or Massachusetts. I wasn’t sure which state I was in much less what road I was on. Once I drove around for hours and I could not figure out where I was or how to find my way home. I also didn’t know where I was so I couldn’t even ask for help.

I kept circling until finally, I accidentally made a correct turn and wound up home. I bought a GPS, installed a tape machine (BooksOnTape and Recorded Books were on tape in those early years) and lived to tell the tale.

Not for long, though. I came down with pneumonia that lasted for months. I ended up on disability and then got even sicker with two kinds of cancer and then, heart disease. My working days were done.

Audiobooks saved my sanity, especially when I was recovering from cancer and then after the heart surgery. I thought the cancer was bad, but the heart was worse. It is normal to be depressed following heart surgery. They warn you about it in the hospital. What they can’t explain is how depressed you can be. I was in a deep black hole. Thinking about life and how I felt was not improving my state of mind.

Audiobooks brought me back when I couldn’t help myself. I would immerse myself in a book and the real world vanished. I wasn’t thinking about me. I was somewhere far away, in a place where magic ruled. By the time I had listened to a few hundred books, I was beginning to emerge from the black pit. Eventually I became me again. It took a year and a half before I was halfway human again and another year to feel close to normal.

I still listen to Audiobooks. I listen to them on a Kindle. I have a good BlueTooth speaker. I’ve read and listened to so many books, it’s actually getting difficult to find books I haven’t already read or listened to. The other day I had to pick new books. I took me three hours to find two books. A lot of writers I’ve been following are my age or older and they aren’t writing as much as they used to. A couple have stopped writing completely and although I keep hoping they’ll write just one more, I know it’s not going to happen.

I find it weirdly difficult to love new authors. I try, I do. I even buy their books. I get a chapter into the book and I begin to twitch. It doesn’t “feel” right. Sometimes, I come back later — occasionally years later — and discover the book is actually great. Then I read a lot more of them.

I love prolific authors and I especially love special sales and freebies on Audiobook. I have more than 2000 books in my Audiobook library which means that my Kindle is struggling to function. I may have to start listening on my Mac instead. I won’t stop listening, though. I’m not sure I could even if I wanted to.

Categories: #Books, #FPQ, Anecdote, Audiobook, Author, Holidays, Provocative Questions, reading

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8 replies

  1. I do like audiobooks, very much. (I used to buy CDs of books such as a multi-CD set on the Teddy Roosevelt to fall asleep to). Your uses of them, especially through recovery, is brilliant. I’m likely to buy more of them in the future. I had a membership — with the digital library sort — in something like year 2004, but I didn’t always see my books showing up and thought I didn’t understand the technology well enough to spend the money. I’d love to have kept grandfathered into a price. I used to be satisfied to listen to music on a longish drive; I wouldn’t be anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love them and listen to many when commuting to work each day

    Liked by 1 person

    • The actually made the drive not merely bearable, but sometimes the best part of my whole day. They also have turned out to be great for lying in bed at night. Audiobooks are part of why I don’t get nearly enough sleep. Just one more chapter…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Now that the MS has affected my ability to hold onto a book and turn pages I find Audiobooks the best thing ever. In a good month probably at least 15-20 . I’m also averse to new authors but by the power of Goodreads….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have worked to become more tolerant of unfamiliar authors. I get very cozy with the ones I know well, so it’s like making a new friend. I can’ hold a book in my hands for long either. Among many other arthritic parts of me, my hands and wrists are barely hanging on.

      Audiobooks are a lifesaver. I don’t know how I survived without them! And they have grown huge. I joined up with them before Amazon bought them — in 2000! I’m still grandfathered in at the price I paid originally in 2000. My biggest problem is finding a machine to play them on that can find the books because there are SO many. But my brand new Kindle is struggling. This isn’t unexpected, but there are functions on a kindle that aren’t available on a computer including the Mac. But I may not have a choice. None of the other readers are any more likely to be able to sort through 2000 stored books.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Would you believe I’ve never read (or listened to?) an audiobook?

    Liked by 1 person

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