I know that today is more or less a straightforward, how-to kind of blog entry. In other words, not really an insight into my thoughts on the world, or any information about some interesting piece of history or what have you. Please bear with me; I just want to discuss something that, in a short period of time, seems to be changing my life.
Yesterday, I wrote about the benefits of reading slowly. I’m able to go through pages quickly, decoding each of the words; the trouble is, when I do this I’m not really taking the time to make sure I understand the sentences and paragraphs that they form. Consequently, I get through, say, fifty pages, and realize that I take away little of the material that I’ve supposedly read.
To help slow myself down, I got an Audible subscription, and started listening to the books as I read them. It has made all the difference.
I always liked reading (I should hope so, as I’m a librarian), but I never truly loved it the way a number of my friends do until now. There is simply something about listening to the words as I read them that has changed everything. And because I’ve grown to love reading as much as I do, if it in any way increases someone else’s enjoyment of reading, so much the better.
Megan (that would be the significant other) said that doing this kind of created a “virtual reality reading experience,” and I’m not sure how much of an exaggeration that is. I’m something of an audio learner, in that I do very well when I hear information as well as see it. The trouble with this is, stray sounds tend to get in the way, so that if I hear, say, a television playing or even listen to songs with lyrics, they start interfering with the words that I’m trying to process on the page.
To deal with this, I often listen to non-vocal music on headphones, such as jazz, classical, or ambient (Brian Eno’s music is a particular favorite). Right now, in fact, as I’m writing this, I’m listening to Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman.” Really enjoying it, by the way.
When I listen to an audiobook while reading it, it does more than take me into the book’s world. It brings back wonderful memories of grade school, when a teacher would read aloud to us, or when we would take turns from reading a particular books. In fact, I can still remember all the books from fifth grade because of this: Harold Krents’s biography “To Race the Wind;” Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey’s “Cheaper by the Dozen;” and Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer.”
As I’ve written a couple of times before, the book that I’m using this for is David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” which isn’t exactly an easy read. This is a book with paragraphs that often run five pages, replete with words that send me scurrying to the dictionary every page or so. When I tried reading it in the past, I gave up in frustration; now I actually look forward to spending a few hours with it at a time.
Listening to a book while reading it makes the book my world. I often, in my world, have many things that vie for my attention. How nice it is to have such a nice thing that, for a few hours at least, completely absorbs my attention in such a captivating and satisfying way.