I spend, on average, ten hours driving to or from work in a given week. Much of this time is in crawling traffic and it’s frustrating. Then I started listening to audiobooks during my commute, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my subscription to Audible.com. Often, the audiobook narration is superb and easily pulls me into the story. The books I have bought from audible have all been complete versions – none were abridged, which was a concern I had when I signed up.
Though the stories are complete and well read, there are times when I want to see the words. Sometimes I want to see the sentences. I want to see the punctuation, paragraph breaks and spelling of unusual names.
Maybe this is the writer in me – my love of the language in written form will always win out over other mediums, time notwithstanding. Simply, I want to learn how this author wrote the work I am enjoying.
This happened most recently while listening to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton. The story is compelling and fresh, and it could have taken a turn towards conventionalism but didn’t. It’s an incredible book and I highly recommend it to anyone who remembers the 80’s fondly.
As my traffic-laden commute goes, I pass the Barnes and Noble in Southlake, Texas. Around chapter fourteen of Ready Player One, I couldn’t resist a detour to pick up a hard copy of this great novel.
That night, I started reading where I left off in the audio book, and was delighted to see the spelling on one of character’s names was ‘Aech.’ The pronunciation was simply ‘H’ and that’s what I heard, even though the phonetic spelling was described. It just felt good, like reading Star Wars (back before the movie released and before it took on the moniker: A New Hope), and seeing the names of C-3PO and R2-D2 spelled out as See-Threepio and Artoo-Deetoo.
It’s hard to describe, and maybe I’m the only one who thinks that sort of thing is cool, but I do. It’s something I can’t get from the movies or audiobook. I have to see the words.
I continued this pattern on listening in the car and in the evening, pick up reading the hard copy where I left off in the audiobook, and vice-versa the next morning. It’s a long book with reasonably short chapters, so this worked well.
Until I have a car that can drive itself so that I can read a book during my commute, audio books are going to be a regular part of my library. But there will be times when I want to see the words in the story I am enjoying, in print form. I don’t think that is going to change.
© 2013, Mitch Lavender