Tuesday, January 06, 2009

And Drive

I love to read and drive.

A habit I acquired when I drove each Friday night from San Jose to Sacramento. I found that music, which I love, put me to sleep. Listening to audiobooks engaged my mind enough to keep me awake. And so the practice came into my life.

I don’t remember my parents reading to me. I doubt that they did. Though we had books (and my mom was an English teacher). So audiobooks introduced me to that pleasure. Having a book read to me. I grew to young adulthood in a time when “speed reading” was seen as positive. Graduate school taught me that “slow reading” was better. But listening to a book read with relish and talent really taught me about slowing down with a book, sinking into the world, enjoying the slow, delicious sound of each word spoken a relished.

And there is definitely a practical side to being read to (AKA listening to audiobooks). I still read in bed, at tables, over coffee, sitting on the couch, in restaurants and libraries. But now I can read in times and places never before possible. A truly blissful discovery for the girl always called a bookworm. I can read while I’m doing dishes and cleaning the house. I can read while walking, running, exercising. I can read when I wake up at night--I don’t need to sit up, turn on the light, wake myself up. I can almost look forward to my insomnia.

And I can read while I drive. This brings together two blissful experiences from my childhood. A good book. A drive (with my folks that generally meant towards the Tetons or Yellowstone, a picknick, a move in the direction of mountains and streams and creaks) on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Now I drive as a hobby? An obsession. And a good part of the pleasure is the pleasure of the sounds of books--trash, classics, histories, thrillers. I’m an omnivore on the reading front I’m afraid.

And so the the real sub-text of my story about fear on the roads in the snow. I was a afraid. But I was also enjoying myself. In the middle of a good book. Which kept me from worrying too much on the other front. And with my perfect driving/ reading companion--Bevin. She never complains about what I am listening to. All she needs is an occasional poppy and a stop from time to time to relieve herself. And food (though she, my daughter, will eat most anything).

A good part of my recent two-week plus holiday was spent in the car (a hybrid, my nod to responsibility on driving as a hobby/compulsion), reading. (A couple of books may have been part of my Thanksgiving driving in Virginia. . . . . .)

Here are some of the books (what pleasure)--I have included brief reviews of most of these on my Facebook account (Susan Staker) and on Library Thing linked here on my blog:

Netherland: A Novel by Joseph O’Neill
When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson
The Comfrots of a Muddy Saturday (Isabel Dalhousie) by Alexander McCall Smith
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
His Illegal Self by Peter Carey
I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass
Fleshmarket Alley (Inspector Rebus) by Ian Rankin
The Interpretation of Murder: A Novel by Jed Rubenfeld
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
The Careful Use of Compliments (Isabel Dalhousei) by Alexander McCall Smith
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (this one may have been before the trip)
Home: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
The Girl of His Dreams (Commissario Brunettie) by Donna Leon

What grand fun!


Lisa B. said...

I still have not tried this. That's a pretty great list of books. How did you like Edgar Sawtelle? I really loved that book. And I am behind on Isabel Dalhousie, whose charms I am highly susceptible to.

SusanS said...

I loved Edgar Sawtelle too. Didn't understand the Hamlet connection in advance--not quite expecting the ending. But the more I think about the book the more intriguing it is. Especially the part the dogs play as characters in the narrative.

Nate said...

Mom, as a grateful user of your Audible account, I have to say that you aren't an omnivor. You are a literary goat. The breadth is at times disorienting.