The Eyes Have It

I’m reading a really long book. I’m enjoying it, but worried I wouldn’t be able to finish it by the book group meeting at the end of January, which I am supposed to lead, so I also got the 40-hour audio book from the library.

Since I’m in the car an hour a day to and from work, I’m making progress even on days I can’t manage to sit down and read without falling asleep. (This isn’t a reflection of the quality of the book, just of how much I enjoy napping.) It feels a little like cheating, but it’s not the same as watching the movie instead of reading the book — the words are the same. But someone else is performing it, instead of the voices in my head.

I have enjoyed many audio books, but this is the first one I have been able to compare directly to the experience of reading. I’m finding that I would much rather be reading with my eyes. I’m actually getting a little bored with parts, especially when I am driving home from work. I am less bored driving to work. My mind wanders more than it usually does when I’m listening to a book. I don’t think I would keep listening to it, if I weren’t already enjoying the printed book.

The speaker is British and he performs the characters in varying British accents. The voices in my head aren’t British, and it surprises me that I don’t prefer having the accents supplied to me. One of the first audio books I listened to in this manner was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and the skilled performance of distinct voices was one of my favorite parts.

The only other book I have both listened to and read is Atlas Shrugged. I read the book several years ago and adored it. To me it’s a perfect book, because although it is so long, every sentence has meaning and reason for being there. The ending is satisfying, and on top of everything else, there is a real point of view behind the whole novel. I started listening to it a few years ago and got irritated with it. Maybe because I am at a different time in my life, or maybe I was just uncomfortable with the comparison to some real-life events at the time, such as discussion of a Windfall Profits Tax, which sounded straight out of Ayn Rand’s head.

I’m not worried that I won’t have time to finish Pillars of the Earth, because I have enough time to listen to it, but I am looking forward to upcoming plane rides that will carve out some time for me to read with my eyes.