March 24, 2010

Audio books in general and a review

I have a love/hate relationship with audio books.


All the years I spent driving the 6 hours to and from Modesto to visit Daughter and family every 3-4 months, audio books were the best things since sliced bread. The hours would go by so quickly that I would pull into the driveway almost without knowing how I got there.

In the week before each trip I would visit the library and hopefully find something that sounded like it was worth listening to. I have 3 libraries nearby so it was a pretty safe bet that I could come up with something that met my criteria: not more than 12-13 hours so I could complete it during my trip and preferably something shallow but entertaining, like Danielle Steele. And no abridgements! I always worried that they were cutting out something important, that I was missing some good part of the story.

I made that trip many, many times over the years and listened to many, many books. What a great way to pass the time and the perfect opportunity to ingest more books!


Because I am a visual person, I rarely ever retained what I had heard! More than once I started to read a new book and a few pages in, realized I had listened to it on CD, but could hardly remember the details. And at least once I put in a CD at the beginning of a trip and realized I had heard it before, but the written description didn't ring any bells....I need to see things in writing or watch them being done in order for them to really register in my brain. If I write something down on paper, even if I never look at it again, I'll probably remember it, but if I try to remember something that I hear.... forget it!! Any book that is important or that I really want to read, I need to actually read with my eyes.

Well, it's been 3+ years since Daughter & Family moved to town and I haven't given audio books a single thought in all this time.....until recently.......

I've always been a voracious reader. As a child I would often spend an entire Saturday reading a new book from start to finish. As a young Stay-at-Home-Mom I read 2-3 books a week. But the last few years, with Grandkids, Netflix, DVR, Internet, Blogging, etc, I just don't seem to read like I used to. Don't get me wrong! I still have a constant, ongoing list of books I want to read. I still check out stacks of books from the library and usually return them unread 2 weeks later. I still buy used books by the sackful and they sit here unread, silently taunting me on my shelf.

Even when I budget some reading time into my day, I just can't seem to concentrate like I used to (gee, THANKS! peri-menopause).......which brings me to the point of this post in the first place:

I had been wanting to read this book for quite a while:

I was on my library's website, putting a hold on it so I could take it home and not read it, when I noticed they had it in the audio version and I suddenly heard the DING! of the lightbulb going off over my head!

"HELLO!! You commute an hour each way to work! That's 8-10 hours of wasted time every week! Why haven't you though of this before?!!"

So I put a hold on it, and after an 8 week wait I finally popped the CD into my car stereo one morning and BOY WAS IT WORTH THE WAIT!! The production of this audio book is the best I've ever heard! Instead of just listening to one person read the story, this production has a different actress reading each part, which was absolutely necessary for this story. It takes place in Mississippi in the early 60's during the Civil Rights Movement and the main characters are the Black maids who are raising the White children of their employers. Hearing each characters different voice made such a difference and 3 months later I've definitely retained what I heard. I looked forward (if that's possible) to my commute instead of dreading it, knowing I'd be in the company of these characters who grew to feel like people I knew personally. I think that for the first time I prefered an audio book to a hard copy, especially since the book is written in the southern vernacular of the era and I have such a hard time reading words written like that. Reading misspelled words is like fingernails-on-a-chalkboard to me, and any time I've tried to read something written in a certain vernacular, exactly the way it's meant to be spoken, my brain just freezes up and I can't do it!! (WRONG SPELLING! WRONG SPELLING! CAN'T COMPUTE!)

This audio book was an absolute pleasure for me and I can't recommend it enough.

AND...I hear that Steven Spielberg is going to make it into a movie, so it must be good right? Movies are rarely as good as the book, of course, but if it's anything like the job he did with "The Color Purple" (another book my brain couldn't process but LOVE the movie!) I eagerly await this one.

March 7, 2010

rain, sewing, and the Oscars

It's not often that I spend the day in my P.J.'s, but that's what I'm doing today. I did take a shower and put on a clean pair, but if all goes as planned, I wont be putting on real clothes today for 3 VERY good reasons:

1. It's a rainy, cloudy day, perfect for doing nothing much in particular.

2. I have an injured knee that is requiring ice and immobility, thanks to yesterdays BIGGEST LOSER CHALLENGE. (HA! Can you believe that I actually have a sports injury?!)

3. The Academy Awards and all the hoopla that goes along with it are on all day long!

Years ago, I was part of a group of friends who really took the Academy Awards seriously. We always had a viewing party of some kind. One year we all dressed up in our best "Red Carpet" attire. We would fill out ballots at the start of the evening and I won $200.00 one year for a perfect score! The friend who was always the instigator of all the fun had an uncle in the movie industry who was a member of the Academy. All members receive copies of the Best Picture nominees ahead of time and my friend would bring these to the party. We topped off the evening with a showing of the winning movie. Sadly, this friend passed away several years ago and that was the end of the parties. We tried the next year, but it was just too depressing.

So now I watch the show all alone in my room in front of my sewing machine. The last few years I made myself several kind of appetizers to eat while watching, and since I have no friends or family members that enjoy this watching/eating ritual with me I mostly finished off the goodies by myself (60 lbs. overweight? hmmm...wonder how that could have happened) But this year, thanks the the VALLEY'S BIGGEST LOSER, I'll be having a big healthy salad instead, which doesn't sound like near as much fun!

Hopefully I'll get several of these projects done today while lounging around in my P.J.'s trying to keep ice on the sore knee:

1. 2 flannel baby blankets for my long-distance Friend. His sixth Granddaughter will be born next week.

2. a bunch of Little Girl Aprons for the ETSY shop. I've had several requests lately for these so it seems like the perfect day to stock up on the Etsy inventory.

Well, I'd better finish this post because I see that there's Red Carpet activity starting already at only 11:30 a.m. for a 5:30 show!

I'ts going to be a full Oscar-Show-watching day!