“I can’t see music…and I don’t listen to books”

My wife is a big fan of audio books. I myself like the concept of them, but just can’t seem to cope with the reality of a fifty-three year old man needing to be read to. Years of conditioning have developed in me a sense that in order to really take in what a good writer is trying to convey, a tranquil, peaceful, quiet environment is necessary. This means no talking. Most especially by the book in question. I just can’t concentrate on the story line when a narrator is blathering away in exaggerated accents and over done voice inflections that I myself would never have assigned to the various characters. I find myself mildly annoyed whenever I hear adults reading to children over the age of five in this fashion and become down right hostile when it is aimed in my direction.

To make matters worse, these audio books are specifically marketed for the drivers of automobiles. A moving automobile is in my opinion not the proper environment for digesting a good story, regardless of whether or not you are physically reading the words or having them force-fed through your ear canals. A comfy chair in a darkened room next to a window and a warm fire comes to mind but maybe that’s just me. Every time we are in the car together with windows down, kids yelling, dogs barking, and the world flying by at seventy miles per hour, she will pop in whichever one she currently has checked out from the library and cranking up the volume, will then attempt to filter the general plot of the novel from the overwhelming din surrounding us. I just don’t get it. It’s like preparing a gourmet meal for a woman you are particularly interested in impressing, while sharing the kitchen with your bachelor friends who likely share DNA with a troupe of beer swilling, aggressively screeching, poo flinging chimpanzee’s.¬† Both have their charms but unlike chocolate and peanut butter should probably never be combined.

I lost the desire to be read to around kindergarten age and see no reason to take it up again. Reading is a function of the eyes and of the mind. My ears will stick to what they are good at, namely suffering through the bad music played by my teenage boys and successfully tuning out anything anyone says to me while lost in the world of reading a good book.

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8 responses to ““I can’t see music…and I don’t listen to books”

  1. Now that you mention it, when my gf puts in CD “books” they are more often than not of the fictional variety; and when I pick them out for myself, they’re usually non-fictional. Either that or they are thick literary classics that I really think I should’ve read by now, and if I can only make time to burn my way through by audio, then better that than nuthin’. But most of my selections are non-fiction. And that’s probably because I’m mildly piqued at the imposed voice inflections.

    That having been said, the only time I take it upon myself to pick up an audio-book is during child drop-offs & pick-ups. Which in my case is 300 miles one-way across Nevada desert. Um…yeah. Sorry Mark, but I’m taking something. If you’ve been there you know what I’m talkin’ about.

  2. And then when she asks where is her book, you answer…”um…it’s around…somewhere,” while taking another.

  3. Ah, then you’ve missed the magic of driving through the dark with four kids–every mind in the vehicle transported to the same place by a good story–so transfixed that no one wants to pull into the driveway despite having been cooped up for six hours.

  4. You should probably loosen up on the forced-voice-inflections complaint though. My own experience is…Kinsey Millhone novels, which are read by a female narrator. And of course, some of the characters in the story are male. Gets just a little bit comical and awkward, but I sort of work my way through it. I like my gal, and anyway I’m a little curious to see what will happen to Kinsey next.

    But — again — when I’m driving solo, it’s something different or it’s nothing at all. Then again: If I’m carving my way through that forsaken wasteland, it’s gonna be something. It isn’t mind-expanding to listen to Dvorak’s Stabat Mater or Beethoven’s Ninth for the fifty bazillionth time.

  5. I guess my real complaint Morgan, besides the voice inflections that just irritate me for some unknown reason, is that she turns on the book in the middle where she left off and I don’t have a clue what is going on. I’d rather just listen to some music.

    Alas BAP, my teenagers would sooner lose a limb than abandon their i pods and listen to a story.

  6. I love some audio books, but I rather like the old radio plays, more. I love the sound of transatlantic English being spoken, and the sound effects and the dramatic music.
    On the other hand, listening to a Harry Potter audio book while having to travel through the wastelands of Kansas and Oklahoma was an escape. Modern talk radio is awful on those trips and so is FM radio.

  7. The only audio books I like the voices in are the Discworld books. And I heard an audio before I read one so the voices weren’t implanted in my head already.

    We took lots of audio books with us when we drove the 24 hours to Florida in December. We listened to an Ender novel, a Heinlein book and a Gaiman book. The Gaiman did have accents in it, but I don’t mind accents and I did like these. Sure did help pass the time.

    If I’d had to pick up in the middle of a book with lots of other noise in the car I probably would have been irritated as well, though.

  8. Yeah, I do think that’s a good point. They’re somewhat better if you’re alone. You almost have to be alone…or, with only one person you happen to like more than a little bit.

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