Finding time to read

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, January 9, 2020

Trying to find time to read while raising a toddler, working full time and getting adequate sleep is a challenge on the best of days.

Needless to say — takes break from writing to yawn — the struggle is real.

Over the 12-plus years my wife and I have been married, we’ve both amassed books, and many are carryovers from our single days, but the ones I’ve had for myself have collected dust on the bookshelf, and there are too many to count.

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Still, I go to my local library and check out more in the wishful thinking that I’ll get around to reading them. It’s been some time since we’ve bought books for ourselves, so I’m thankful for libraries to explore different interests and subjects.

But by the time I have time to read them, I’m too tired to focus on the words on the page, and I just want to shut my eyes. So what am I do to when I want to feel like an accomplished book reader?

I’ve turned to audiobooks.

I tried once before without success, but in the last month and a half, I’ve given it another shot, with much better results.

With some trial and error, I’ve found the type of audiobooks that will keep me listening as I spend time in my car to and from the office, and around Suffolk and beyond as I travel to get to and from assignments.

Those books are autobiographies, and on top of that, are read by the author. I’ve tried listening to other types of books, read by guest readers who didn’t author the books, and they don’t hold my attention.

What I like about the ones read by the author is the same thing I like about getting around to all the various nooks of the city — I enjoy learning people’s stories.

Hearing the author read about herself or himself gives me a different perspective on the person that I don’t get by simply reading the words. It’s also the difference between reading someone’s words in an email or text message, and talking to them over the phone, or better yet, in person.

I’ve listened to four autobiographies on CD in my car since I restarted listening to audiobooks, all read by the author of the book, and all unabridged.

In the latest one I’m listening to, “In Pieces” by Sally Field, I can clearly hear the emotion in her voice as she speaks about her formative years and her family.

Listening to it reminds me of many of the conversations I’ve had with city residents on serious and silly topics alike, many of which never see the light of day in print, as after my interviews with them, we move seamlessly to other topics.

Sometimes the conversations happen organically, as it did with one person following a recent meeting. I didn’t have anything to ask that person about the meeting, yet we casually went from talking about what we had done over the holidays, to talking about our respective families. We were there well after others had left the room, and then we continued talking on our way out the door.

I enjoy the give-and-take in the personal conversations I get to have with everyone. The flip side is that the audiobooks let me escape into someone else’s life, and I can simply listen and ponder.

In both cases, I learn new things, which I’m always striving to do, whether those things are about people, or learning how to do something I did not know how to do previously.

I still want to read more print books, but in the absence of time and energy, I’ll take the audiobooks.

And I know that if I don’t have the energy for that on my drives, I can think about the meaningful things people in Suffolk have shared with me.

Each one of you is an audiobook unto yourself, and I appreciate the chance to listen to your stories.