I’m addicted to reading.  I’m not planning to stop, ever, because for me, reading is the best single skill I ever learned.  Fiction is my draught of choice, specifically speculative, science fiction and fantasy.  The best of  human capability is the capacity to imagine worlds, abilities and experiences that are not representative of our consensual, ‘real’ world.  A well-written story will pull you in and immerse you in another world and time, make you cry or laugh, and works as a forum for examining concepts of existence.  Stories of dystopian futures serve as warning while far future stories give hope that we as a species can go beyond the present human condition that, in the words of Tom Robbins is, ‘desperate, as usual.’

So I escape.  Too much?  Maybe.  I’m always looking for new authors, stories and worlds to explore and I’ve collected hardcovers of my favourite authors because the best stories are  fun to revisit.  In recent years I’ve discovered e-books and I’m reading even more because I can download books from the library and my virtual library has over a thousand titles.  I love that I can have hundreds of books in my hand, and I read more widely with this newfound ease.

My very cool Pocketbook 360 e-reader

My very cool Pocketbook 360 e-reader

It’s hard to get other things done when reading so I’ve branched into audio books.   Listening is not my preferred way to absorb a story and the quality varies greatly depending on the reader/performer and the production values.  Some stories are too complex for the initial read to be via audio.  I imagine The Game of Thrones would be too confusing, with all the unusual names and changing voices.  I listened to Cyteen, by one of my favourite sci-fi authors, C.J. Cherryh, and found I needed to re-wind frequently  so that I could fully comprehend the concepts and relationships.  Still, I’ve found that re-visiting stories I’ve read before  in their audio format can be most entertaining, although, again, the performer or poor editing can ruin the story.

Which leads me to my withdrawal.  I’ve recently finished the Harry Potter audio books, performed amazingly by Jim Dale.  I can’t say enough good about these.  He makes the stories come alive in a way I’ve never encountered and creates distinctive voices for all the characters that are exactly what I would hear in my head if I was reading to myself.  He truly performs the scenes, changing characters within the many conversations with an ease that bogles the mind.  After each audio performance I watched the movies to remind myself of that version.  J.K. Rowling created a complex world and story with nuances that the movies cannot ably portray.  The gist of the stories is there but some of the nuances,  that kindness and friendship are the motivations  of Harry and his friends, are missing.   In The Deathly Hallows movie Creature is treated rather more harshly than in the book and the concern for elves is not as evident.  Reading the books is the only way to experience the complexity of the story and the relationships and for those who don’t read, the audio books are an excellent substitute .  In a way, the audio books are even better than silently reading the books.  This is the first time I have encountered audio that is better than simply reading to myself.  And so, I am going through withdrawal from a marvellously created world, admirably portrayed.   My ears are tuned to the stories and I’ve  yet to move on.



4 responses to “Withdrawal

  1. Yay for reading! Most definitely one of my favourite forms of entertainment….I’ve been reading so much for school in the last year, which has been interesting but academic and heavy, that it was with great pleasure and joy that I started reading a novel (a story!) a week or so ago – it’s Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, and I’m enthralled.

    • Ah, the joys of summer and non-school-related reading. My dear, if you could email me your current snail-mail address, I could send a next instalment of the the letter, old-fashioned. I do occasionally venture from my sci-fi/fantasy comfort zone and the standout novel is Border Songs, by Jim Lynch. The hero is an autistic, bird-counting, spontaneous art-creating, border patrol dude in Whatcom County, my old stomping ground. It portrays an interesting interior view of autism. And I always like books that make me cry and laugh.

  2. I wish I could get back to the habit of reading!

    • Well… I got rid of my TV when I moved to Maine. It took up too much room and the energy TVs put out is compelling and hypnotic. I download a few fiction vids on my computer but really don’t watch unless I’m knitting or doing hand-sewing. Now when I’m visiting where there is TV I find it really annoying and superfluous. Reading is good for the brain, providing the ability for long-term focus. (See The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr, for thoughts on attention span and brain changes through the ages.) My biggest problem is if I’m into a really good book, I keep ending up in my giant chair, not doing the things that need to be done. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s