Reading Review Time!
Another challenge I informally set out for myself was to expand how I read. Traditionally I read books either in paper format or as ebooks, and honestly the reading of ebooks has been a slowly-increasing occurrence out of necessity and convenience. My back was not too pleased with me hauling around heavy paper (or hardcover) books everywhere, and I wouldn’t always want to carry a bag JUST to have a book. Not to mention that, if the bus is crowded and I need one hand to hold on to the overhead bar so I don’t fall over, it’s pretty challenging to hold a book with my other hand!
With ebooks on my phone I can read pretty much anywhere, but it’s been an adjustment to read on such a small screen. However, it’s an adjustment I’ve made and I’d say most of my reading now is via ebooks.
But Audio Books… this is a different challenge for me. Part of it has to do with my learning style – I don’t process as well when I’m simply hearing something — seeing the words on a page and reading them helps me get better understanding of what I’m reading. So when I pick up audio books I sometimes forget what I’ve just listened to. I also have a tendency to get distracted – my mind will wander as my eyes search for something to do and soon I’ll realize I haven’t heard any of the last ten minutes of what’s been said.
I started to try dipping into Audio Books with a few memoirs by comedians in the past year. I find that a story being narrated in the voice of the person it’s actually about holds me better – I’m listening to an oral history of sorts, and that traps my brain in differently.
This year, so far, I’ve listened to THREE audio-books, and one of them was quite the step away from the memoirs.
Written and Narrated by Mindy Kaling
First, one of the audio-books more in the style of what I’ve already listened to. I enjoyed The Mindy Project, so thought I’d give one of her books a listen — and it was really fun. There were parts that I wanted to copy down (another disadvantage to audio-books, it’s a lot harder to simply highlight a passage). I found what she had to say to be fairly inspiring, and surprisingly relatable at times. This is one I’ll probably try to get an ebook copy of so I can pull out some quotes for later reflection!
Written and Narrated by Lauren Graham
I hadn’t expected to enjoy this book as much as I did! I expected to enjoy it — I like Lauren Graham and figured any stories she was telling about herself would be entertaining. I’m also a fan of Gilmore Girls (and Parenthood) so was looking forward to what she had to say about her experience with those shows.
What I hadn’t realized was that she also wrote a fiction book, and there were parts of her story where she was talking about being an author. Again, I wish I could just reach into the book and pull out some of those passages – and I’ll probably have to get my hands on a physical or ebook copy so I can do just that.
By Benjamin Alire Sáenza. Narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
A friend had recommended this one. Because of my challenges with audio-books I was hesitant, but the fact that Lin-Manuel Miranda was the narrator (and I do adore him) was a HUGE selling point for me to give it a try.
There were certainly moments when I had to rewind a bit to pick up bits of the story I’d lost, but I really enjoyed the story. Listening in as Ari learns about his world and himself over the period of a bit over a year, appreciating the style of the writing, and some of those moments of reflection that give a hint of the person Ari might grow into. Again, there were quotes that I want to pull from the story and explore more — but unlike the other two which I borrowed from the library, this one I’d purchased and had the option to “bookmark” passages so I tried that a few times and need to check out how that worked.
I do wonder what my experience would be if I had read it instead of listening to it. Would I understand the characters differently if my own intonations has been placed on them, rather than being told in another person’s voice? Would different things have stood out to me?
Either way, I would recommend this story. As is often the case when I read stories about people who are pretty thoroughly different than me, I found myself seeing many pieces of thought, moments of interaction and reflection, that could have been plucked out of my head. It’s one of the reasons I like to encourage people to read books about people different from themselves — I feel like it can actually highlight the ways in which we are similar.
Reading Challenge: Beaverton City Library Booking Ahead (Book with a Main Character who doesn’t look like you or live like you).