Saturday, August 7, 2010

I'm not much of a reader, but...

....I blasted through The Great Gatsby in less than 3 hours yesterday with the help of an audiobook. I used to read non-stop as a kid, but not so much anymore.

I'm a big fan of This American Life and Planet Money and things of that nature, but sometimes, I just want to sit down and enjoy an epic story instead of just hour-long programs on NPR. I also wanted more variety.

My sister recently mentioned to me that she and her boyfriend were talking about the Great Gatsby and how different each of them saw the book. My sister and I both read the book in high school, and they clearly steered us to think certain things about the book. My sister's boyfriend never read it in school, but only after his education and for casual reading. He saw something much different in the book than she and I saw.

Because of this, and some other factors, I just had to see what the hell was going on, here. I didn't remember much of the book - I was an awful student in high school, and generally didn't take any of it seriously. But I do remember The Great Gatsby being one of the more tolerable books I read for my English class.

After I finished the book, I couldn't believe how different I saw it. It's such a different experience when you're not being tested on it, or seeing symbolism in one way, but not another.

I really enjoyed it. And now, I'm moving on to what I can remember from school and other American classics. I've got Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five and Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath loaded on the iPod, along with Nabokov's Lolita (which I did not read in high school).

I find it a lot easier to get through these books when they're being read to me. That probably sounds so infantile, but I guess unless you know me, you can't really understand my perspective. I'm the kind of person who feels guilty for sitting down and reading a book without doing anything else. I feel like I should be performing a task, preparing a dinner, cleaning something, or just doing something other than reading. And when I do read, I never read long, out of those guilty feelings.

So listening to these books while driving, or knitting, or doing something otherwise productive, makes me feel less guilty.

Which is perfect. Let's see how long this phase lasts.

Do you folks listen to audio books? Any recommendations for this born-again reader??


Kate! said...

I'm such a huge fan of Barbara Kingsolver, and she reads a couple of her books on tape- it's wonderful!

Sassafrass said...

I'll have to check her out, thanks for the suggestion Kate!