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June 23, 2022
This month is Pride and Audiobook Appreciation Month. Kate and I are reading (listening to) Marlon James’s Moon Witch, Spider King, the second in his Dark Star trilogy. We did not intentionally decide to listen to a book by a gay author, but we are.
Notice that I said we are reading the book yet we are listening to it. If you are one of those people who think listening to a book does not count as reading, I beg of you to change your mind.
As established readers (though there is a ton of merit to using audiobooks with struggling readers, but this is not the platform for that) we are not reading to practice phonics. We are not proving ourselves to teachers. We are exploring foreign lands, making connections, learning about the world, escaping and growing. It is not the actual reading that is challenging us. It is the thinking.
Audiobooks get a bum rap.
But they are delicious, especially the ones recorded in the last 2 decades. These are actors reading the book. They make each of the characters come alive through different voices or inflections.
The readers of Marlon James’s books are amazing. While listening, I sometimes remember that it is only one person reading all of these characters, so many characters, Marlon, and I am impressed all over again.
Audiobooks layer another form of art on top of our favorite form of art, fiction.
Once you can swallow that listening to audiobooks is actually reading, you will be freed. Seriously. You will suddenly realize that you have time to read because you can read while you are driving or walking the dog. You can read while washing the dishes or while your partner is asleep in the bed next to you. You can read just about all the time!
Sure, sometimes you space out and daydream while you are listening. Maybe I am alone in this (nah), but that happens during reading also.
I will say there are two things I hate about audiobooks. 1. I keep and display all the books I read. I love looking at them and remembering. I love people to ask me about them. 2. I like to write in my books.
However, I have come up with solutions to those problems. 1. I design my own book jackets around books that I find at yard sales for cheap. I decorate and paint and write on a piece of paper. The book jacket is essentially my book report, and then I put it on the bookshelf.
If it is a book I want to write in, I will buy the book and after each listening session I will go to it and make my marginalia. Problems solved.
Besides anything written by Marlon James here are some awesome books to listen to:
Milkman by Anna Burns
The Dutch House by Ann Patchet
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Miracle and Wonder by Malcolm Gladwell (only available on audio)
No One Goes Alone by Erik Larson (only available on audio)
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