Wednesday, September 7, 2016

All Hail Audiobooks

I went for a run yesterday on my two mile loop. After stopping briefly at the end of my driveway to talk with my neighbor, who informed me that the city stopped by, I was in need of the sweat, endorphins and clear head that come with a short jog around the neighborhood.

Usually the thought of the city stopping by brings annoyance. I have an elderly couple next to me who like to pick nits. I am surely in their sights as I just installed my new driveway and one edge comes closer than comfort to their property line. I also have a morning glory growing in my garden that is engulfing one of the wrought iron wickets that they use to make overly clear to me where the property line is. At this point you should call me paranoid, but they did come out to heckle the work crew on the driveway and I did have words with the neighbor on the property line while planting my garden. I also just realized I'm a little late on paying my water bill so I have a little of my own self justified worry built up.

I needed to clear my head. Historically, I'd put on some heavy metal and run angry. That is an acquired taste. As evidenced by my playing some Meshuggah for my girlfriend in the car over the weekend. They are coming to town next month for a concert and I was going to feel her out for if she'd want to go. I started laughing as soon as the music started realizing this definitely wasn't her genre (she played the Dixie Chicks just prior to the onslaught). I'll also now have to see if my brother or another friend would like to go to the concert.

Metal music has a way of clearing my head, or at least resetting my brain. I love it, but as seen in the previous paragraph, it is something that is uniquely mine. I've just been feeling the heavy music a little less lately for working out. I must be getting old, or my brain is wanting to be "tickled" in a different way. I put on an audiobook. It's amazing that we live in a bath of information availability. Through the Overdrive app I'm able to check out an array of audiobooks through my local library. I tend to prefer wading my way through non-fiction titles such as "Freakonomics" by Levitt and Dubner or Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point", but I've also recently placed holds on fiction, in particular the mega-favorite "The Da Vinci Code", by Dan Brown.

The books offer an opportunity unlike music. They keep going and allow for longer spells of cardio. I can also really get lost in chapters and find myself pining on what I just took in for the next few hours. They also offer an opportunity for me unlike...books. It takes me forever to sit and read a book. I resisted novels in high school and college English classes. Indeed one of my only "C's" in English came during the semester that Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" was assigned. Interestingly, in contrast I excelled at short story literature classes.

I consider myself and audible and kinetic learner. In a lot of ways I consider my physicist roots as being a hands-on trade, more like a carpenter or mechanic (quantum mechanic(s) jokes aside). I have always had a hard time sitting still to read and have little patience for more than a dozen or so pages in a sitting; thus making my preference for the short story natural and obvious. Give me an audio book and a manual labor project, or a workout, to do and I can get through the long reads in a matter of days.

In some circles this may be considered cheating, but what's better than being read to and getting something productive done?  Much of human history relied on oral storytelling tradition anyway, so I view it as getting back to my/our roots. This doesn't dispel the necessity that the book was written. In fact it's absolutely to humanity that books be written, nowhere else are there places of such continual streams of concise consciousness that present unifying themes or present a detailed account, fictional or otherwise. This is evidenced by the throngs of movies that are book based. Indeed, it's hard to come by a screenplay that's not some literary adaptation these days.

So to all the authors out there, keep writing! Know that I'll be listening...and likely sweating.

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