Reading while driving? Not OK. Listening while driving? Fabulous!

Cover of "The Pillars of the Earth"
Cover of The Pillars of the Earth

I hate driving. A few years ago, when I traded my local job for a 45 minute commute, I needed a way to pass time without freaking out in heavy freeway traffic. The solution– books recorded on CD. As it was years since anyone read me a story,  I wondered if I could concentrate to a read story.  That was never an issue! From the first book to now, I’ve listened to dozens of books– even in genres  I’d never considered before. My first book, 1776, by David McCullough was the perfect listen as I drove home in the Bay Area’s winter of 2006 torrential rains. If our Revolutionary War soldiers could plod through battlefields streaking the snow red with their bloody feet, then I could surely cope with crawling traffic in my heated mobile cocoon.

More recently, I’ve “read” such wonderful books as Ken Follett’s thrilling Pillars of the Earth— 30 CDs worth of medieval England rife with religious and political intrigue. I’ve listened as Nora Ephron shared her  mid-life mental lapses in  I Remember Nothing. I’m finishing up the sexy novel A Reliable Wife and looking forward to starting Steve Martin’s  Object of Beauty. I’ve listened to Tom Friedman’s provocative Hot, Flat & Crowded and Malcolm Gladwell’s intriguing Outliers.  I never read much non-fiction before but now I enjoy listening to it. If you have a great narrator, it becomes a transporting experience–both literally and figuratively.

The best part is that I’m reading more books than ever and rarely spending a dime. I order books on CD from the public library’s online catalog and hey let me know when the books are in. Because my home and job are in two different towns, I hold library cards in both communities, upping my chances of getting a book I want.Of course, you can sign up for an audiobook service where for a monthly fee, you can get the  latest bestsellers sent a la Netflix. But the public library is just as easy and it’s still free or they charge just a small reservation fee.

So, torturous traffic doesn’t bother me anymore.  I look at it as a chance to catch up on my reading!

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