2006-01-20 08:19 in /books
Now that I have a longer commute, I’m spending a lot more time listening to the radio; maybe 1.5 hours a day instead of 20 or 30 minutes. And one thing I’ve discovered is that NPR gets pretty repetitive pretty quickly. In fact, if I time things wrong I’ll end up listening to the identical segments going home that I heard on the way to work.
In an attempt to improve the situation, I took a trip to the books-on-tape section of the library and found a couple things to try.
The first was Two Plays for Voices by Neil Gaiman. I’d read the comic version of one of the stories (“Murder Mysteries”) previously but it was interesting to see how my memory had shifted some things around. (I checked the book later and it matched the radio play pretty closely.) The other play, “Snow Glass Apples”, was new to me and a real delight.
My second attempt was Faster by James Gleick, and while I am generally a fan of Gleick’s books, I gave up on this one somewhere in the middle of cassette 3 of 8. Partially this was the fault of the medium and my car. If my attention went to other things (hey, driving, imagine that) for a moment, it was too awkward to back up and re-listen to a section, so I usually didn’t. Also, these tapes seemed pretty beat up and kept triggering the auto-reverse. But, I might have gotten over all that if the book were more engaging. Instead, it just reads like a laundry list of gripes and mostly uninsightful observations about that crazy modern world we live in. The chapters don’t tend to reach conclusions individually, but they also don’t seem to build on one another. Maybe something on tape 8 wraps it all together, but I didn’t have the patience to find out. (Maybe that makes me a victim of what he’s complaining about, but ironically the style of the book seems to be just another example — rapid fire, just-the-facts delivery without any moments of careful consideration, so I guess I’m not the only one.)
That was all before the holidays. I ought to make another trip to the library, now that I have a better idea of what sort of books are likely to work well for me. I also considered the audiobooks from the iTunes Store, but $20 for a DRMed book that I probably will only listen to once isn’t tempting me.