Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A Good Listen

When,  a few years ago I started out on some renovation projects my first purchase - after the skip hire but before the wallpaper scraper - was a radio. It followed me round one flat and two houses becoming progressively more speckled with dabs of plaster and paint - an essential bit of kit. Woe betide anyone who turned the dial from Radio 4..... 

I'd switch it on as I walked through the door and turn it off when I left. In between times I'd listen - and listen with the greatest pleasure to plays and stories. A virgin wall,  a can of paint and a brush in the silence of an empty house, hanging onto a ladder with one hand but onto every word with my ears. Not going home until the story had ended, dragging out those brushfulls' of paint. Bliss.  How I love to be read to.

I can't remember if I was read to as a child. Perhaps I was, that is surely something my father would have done. Miss Charles would read to us at school - I've a vague memory of Pilgrim's Progress - though suspect it was a special 'primary school edition' - it's hard to imagine it being the reading matter of choice for a coutry school in 1950s Warwickshire.. A play on the car radio can be a blessing to while away the miles. Who hasn't sat, late for a meeting, listening to the last few moments of some drama or other?

A short while ago the Glam Ass bought me an iTouch. Perfect. From the moment I fired it up and slid my finger across its seductive screen I was hooked - this sleek little gadget could be the repository of my secret world. What's there not to like? It stores pictures, notes, apps, music, movies and accesses the t'interweb. Download and store books too. Not just books to read - although that is possible - but books to listen to. What a good idea.

I now subscribe to audible, where for £7.99 per month I get a 'credit' which gets me a book. So far it's been fine and value for money. I download my book, sync the iTouch, put in the 'phones and listen away. There are other, free sources out there in the vastness of the www which I have not as yet explored. I have a feeling though that, if not audio books, then books for a 'reader' are the way that things are heading. Did I hear somewhere that Amazon's download sales for its 'Kindle' outsold traditional book sales recently?

Anyway - my book of the moment is Kathryn Stockett's 'The Help'. Nearly two-thirds of the way through now and I am hooked. Three voices for the three main characters narrate their stories. I am in the white/black world of Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s - not a good place for everyone - and I hear every word of a good and thought provoking story. This is gripping storytelling too - I am tempted nightly to listen just a little bit longer - I really care about what will happen next. (I do so hope Miss Hilly eventually gets her comeuppance....)

But what do I want to do?  I want to flip the page to see how a name is spelled, check on something quickly, perhaps even flick forwards for a taste of what's to come - and that is not so easy without a visual reference. This is my only caveat. Perhaps I shall have to buy a real copy after all - it wouldn't be the first time.

13 comments:

Pam said...

I read this post with interest as I'm an avid reader too and love to settle down with a book, not an iTouch or a Kindle (I own the first, not the second).
There is nothing so wonderful to me than reading a book, turning the pages, reading the author biography and the passing it along to loved ones when you are done. I'll never leave my books.
Will check out your current read. Ta!

Wipso said...

Book reading alas is now mostly just for holidays for me. By the time I have time to sit down with a good book my eyes are usually too tired to read and I tend to pick up the knitting or something that doesn't need such concentration. I think you have just sold me the idea of an ipod with your wonderful blog. Thanks. I will be looking into the idea soon :-)
A x

Twiglet said...

I think, for now, I will stick to the real thing. I have just used my Christmas book token and have a lovely pile of new books to delve into.

rachel said...

I had Jane Austen's 'Persuasion' on my iPod for my long journey to Australia a while back, and oh, the delights of being read to! But like you, I miss the ease with which you can answer your own queries when you have a real book in your hands.

Frances said...

I have lovely childhood memories of being read to by my father (probably while Mom did the dishes) and learned to read at a young age. Nowadays, most of my reading is done on my daily subway commute to work.

However, years ago I gave myself four years off to stay at home and paint. I listened to the radio while I worked, choosing the classical music station. I got quite a lot of education and pleasure from those hours, days, weeks. And, then after I returned to actual employment in a a new field, retail, I had an additional pleasure in meeting and really getting to know one of the classical music station's best producers and presenters. Extra treat!

I still miss those hours by myself, painting away, listening to beauty.

xo

her at home said...

Give me old fashioned paper books any day!!

Pondside said...

I'm still one who needs to turn the pages, although I'll check out an audio book from the library for a long trip. You are so lucky to have your Radio 4. We have nothing like that here - even the CBC is just one program after another of people who like to hear themselves expound - sometimes with classical music in the pauses.

Nan said...

This was so very interesting. I, too, love audio books and have the same 'caveat.' I've found that I can't read crime fiction that way because of hearing every word. In that genre, I sometimes skip ahead past a 'gross' part. :<) You are so, so lucky to have a radio station that reads to you. Does it still, or is this in the past. I like the image of you painting quietly while listening. Some different from the young men building my daughter and her boyfriend's new house - classic rock is on their radio. :<)

Fennie said...

Well should we ever go house painting I would subscribe to your Radio 4 regime - for that is how I paint, not that I am a good painter at all at all. Equally Radio 4 goes well with printing labels. Listening to a story can be evocative and romantic - there's something about a voice in a darkening room. I can still remember to this day a scene from about 38 years ago, huddled round a little open fire with two friends (who by coincidence we are seeing this weekend again) listening in the gathering twilight to 'My Son, My Son.'

Chris Stovell said...

Golly, you've been a very lucky ducky lately!

Friko said...

Maybe so, and yes, up a ladder, etc., and while doing a mucky job, hm yes, maybe so.

BUT what could be better than feet up in an easy chair, a cuppa or a glass of the grape by the elbow, and nose-in-book heaven materialises for hours on end.
And what about the smell of books in a room? How could you live without that?

elizabethm said...

Mmm, torn here. I love Radio 4 too but, oddly, tend to turn off the afternoon play and don't listen to the Archers. I seem to like my fiction in my hands. I suspect you have the reason in the skipping about and that also I am another who skim reads sometimes and doesn't want every single word. But I did love being read to as a child. Perhaps I should give it another go.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Audio books are marvellous when I'm sewing and need my hands free. I've just got a Margery Allingham to start today ... with lots of Jasmine tea .
Sunday bliss .
P.S. "The Works" has a small selection of audio books at a reasonable price .But I must try audible .... it sounds ideal .