December 31, 2012

How to read a book a day for a year.

Choose short/easy/audio books.

Actually, I read a book a day and have for years — but it's an audiobook, and most of this reading is done while asleep.

Do you have an reading-related New Year's resolutions? Let's think up some reading projects for the new year. We don't necessarily have to do them. Let's just contemplate them. I've already thought of 2, one of which I plan to do. First:
Maybe a good project would be those "History of..." pages, not just for their most common words — WAR! — but to have had it run through your head, at least once, what happened in all of those places. Do you know how many pages we are talking about? The number of members in the United Nations is not the right answer, but do you know that number? It's 193. Wikipedia lists 206 sovereign states (including those with disputed sovereignty).

Let's make a New Year's resolution: Each day, read one Wikipedia "History of..." page. Will you join me? We'll go in alphabetical order, and I'll prompt you with blog posts.
That will start on New Year's day. Don't worry, I'll make it amusing. Second:
What I like [about "The Great Gatsby"] is that each sentence is good, on its own. Seriously. Test it out. "As my train emerged from the tunnel into sunlight, only the hot whistles of the National Biscuit Company broke the simmering hush at noon." Every sentence is a writer's inspiration....

I feel like starting a blog devoted to individual sentences in "The Great Gatsby," chosen randomly, and continuing until all the sentences have been used up.
With commentary, of course. For example, here's my commentary on the hot-whistle-simmering-hush sentence (responding to a commenter who complained that "trains do not 'emerge' from tunnels. They blast, speed, rip, explode, hurtle. E.B. White and Orwell would have hated the verb 'emerge'):
Now, one reason the train can't "blast" or "explode" from the tunnel — and by the way, oh, you men, with your cocks — is that the "only" sound was the "hot whistle." Otherwise, there was a "hush." That's all very surreal, no? Why didn't the train make any noise? It emerged, because it wasn't a screaming cock blasting through a vagina tunnel, as happens in your (presumably) E.B. White-approved works of fiction. Why was the train silent, why were the whistles hot, why was the hush simmering, why was it noon, why were the whistles biscuit whistles, and why wasn't it the biscuit, rather than the whistle, that was hot?

103 comments:

Craig said...

My great grandfather's older brother maintained a flour mill for a bakery that was bought out by the National Biscuit Company a year after he died. Apparently it was a steam bakery, although I'm not really sure what that process involved.

Curious George said...

"Actually, I read a book a day and have for years — but it's an audiobook, and most of this reading is done while asleep."

That's called listening, not reading. And hardly even that.

Shouting Thomas said...

Don't know if I can go with you here, Althouse.

I was an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction until I was in my early 30s. Economic necessity intruded, and I read almost entirely technical and programming tracts until... well, the past year as I've moved toward retirement. I learned to really love the tech and programming stuff, and to regard it as superior to general prose.

I am now reading religious philosophy, but that's because I'm trying to answer those age old questions all over again. What or who is God? Does the soul transcend death?

I'm pretty suspicious of the literary world because I observed it descending into a morass of identity politics that didn't interest me. The pragmatism of the tech and programming world really took hold of me. There is beauty, truth and clarity in that kind of thinking that, I don't believe, people who haven't been there can possibly know. The symbolic density of code written by a great C++ programmer is breathtaking.

The need to be so damned pragmatic is receding, but I don't know if I want to, or can be, pulled back into a more prose-oriented way of looking at things.

My New Year's resolution is to return to being a serious and working songwriter, something that I mostly put aside some years ago in order to make a steady living to take care of my kids. That's a very specialized form of poetry.

Lyle said...

I want to start reading more fiction. I read exclusively non-fiction. I'd like to make up a literature course for myself. American literature probably. I am open to suggestions.

St. George said...

Unless "The Great Gatsby" is a surrealist work or the narrator is in a dream-state, trains make a ton of noise. They smash, crash, hum, creak, and whistle. Unless the narrator's train is crawling, creeping, or inching along, Mr. Fitzgerald is using an inapt and weak Latin-based verb, instead of a crisp Anglo-Saxon derived verb that would give the sentence the punch it demands.

Pow.

In his grave, Hemingway pukes.

m stone said...

I actually have three books---usually fiction---going at any one time: audiobook in the car, kindle and and tree book at night. I find the multi-media approach to be satisfying.

A tip on audio books: find a good reader, one who appeals to your tastes and evokes some emotion. I actually pick a book by it's reader after 15 years now.

Paco Wové said...

I'm with St. George on this one - the train's lack of noise is a big stumbling block. I spend the rest of the paragraph thinking, hey, trains make a lot of noise. How can there be a "hush"?

Mitchell the Bat said...

In law school I worried that I was shoving too much stuff into my brain and that it was pushing other stuff out the other end.

Some 20 odd years later, I've been reading fiction and listening to audiobooks (mostly college-level lectures, actually) every day for maybe 2 years. I remember almost none of it.

For me, the process of cramming that stuff into my skull is, at best, like that high-spirited dinner party I attended this Christmas.

I remember I had a blast but apart from that I remember almost nothing.

Paco Wové said...

I could see it in some artsy-fartsy cinematic treatment - utter silence, the train (in black and white, of course) emerges from the tunnel - protagonist stares out the window across the hopeless wasteland of America - a close-up of the shrieking, sweating whistle, cutting through the silence to startle our hero into action. (Well, not action. Just some other train of ennui-laden thought.)

William said...

While the image of a train entering a tunnel is phallic and sexual, a train emerging from a tunnel has more to do with the birth canal and birth. The hush and noon brightness refer to a newborn entry into a splendid, confusing world.

dustbunny said...

From the comments on this thread and the Gatsby movie one, it seems many of your followers see themselves as better writers than Fitzgerald. I think it is still the great American novel and look forward to your random selection of his gorgeous and perfect sentences.
Also I have a vague memory of reading that it was Fitzgerald that first used the word glamour in a novel or used it in the way we now do.

edutcher said...

I like to poke along and stop on something that tickles my little gizzard.

Took me forever to get through "Gunga Din".

Ann Althouse said...

most of this reading is done while asleep

You'd be surprised how many of my teachers in grade school thought I did the same thing.

Freder Frederson said...

Actually, I read a book a day and have for years — but it's an audiobook, and most of this reading is done while asleep.

This is a very strange definition of "read".

Freder Frederson said...

Actually, I read a book a day and have for years — but it's an audiobook, and most of this reading is done while asleep.

This is a very strange definition of "read".

EDH said...

"As my train emerged from the tunnel into sunlight, only the hot whistles of the National Biscuit Company broke the simmering hush at noon."

Reminded me of taking a shit.

William said...

Both Nick Carraway in Gatsby's world and Gatsby in Daisy's world are innocent and newborn....I was an English major. I can knock this stuff out ad infinitum.

Shouting Thomas said...

I ride on a mail train baby
Can't buy no thrill
I've been up all night
Leaning on a window sill
But if I die on top of the hill
And if I don't make it
I know my baby will


Dylan. Who else?

Richard Dolan said...

"How to read a book a day for a year"

Sounds like some kind of contest or race. Better to slow down and enjoy the scenery, don't you think?

Richard Dolan said...
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Christy said...

My resolution is not to be seduced by cheap Kindle books. I am shamed by all the unworthy novels I read in 2012.

I soured on Fitzgerald once I realized his truth was that of an outsider who desperately wanted to belong.

ken in sc said...

The National Biscuit Company is the old name for Nabisco. Crackers were and are called biscuits by some—usually British. A friend of mine’s grandfather worked at National Biscuit Company and had his front porch blown off his house by dynamite during a labor dispute. This happened in New jersey. He was not in the union.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Actually, I read a book a day and have for years — but it's an audiobook, and most of this reading is done while asleep."


I'm not sure you understand the meaning of that word...reading.

I can't stand audio books. When I read I don't want somebody else's voice in my head. Seeing the written words, the punctuation also gives me a better sense of what the writer intended....not some disembodied voice.

Dialogue from various characters in funny voices by the same narrator is disconcerting and instead of concentrating on the actual story and the words, I get distracted by Morgan Freeman trying to sound like a girl.

Driving and listening to the audio books is even worse. IF I can get into the story and do start to visualize the descriptions of the scenery, clothing etc, it becomes too distracting and I think actually dangerous to driving.

Reading a book is an immersive, relaxing and sensual pleasure. Audio books are just grating.

deborah said...

The engineer said, before he died, there were two more things that he'd like to try.
The conductor said, what could they be?
A hot cup of coffee and a cold glass of tea.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Now, one reason the train can't "blast" or "explode" from the tunnel — and by the way, oh, you men, with your cocks — is that the "only" sound was the "hot whistle." Otherwise, there was a "hush." That's all very surreal, no? Why didn't the train make any noise? It emerged, because it wasn't a screaming cock blasting through a vagina tunnel, as happens in your (presumably) E.B. White-approved works of fiction. Why was the train silent, why were the whistles hot, why was the hush simmering, why was it noon, why were the whistles biscuit whistles, and why wasn't it the biscuit, rather than the whistle, that was hot?

Well, if you are "listening" to someone else read the Great Gatsby to you, you hardly have time to make these reflections. Unless you are constantly stopping and starting the audio book, which defeats the purpose of the audio book, then by the time you have even thought of any of those things, the reader has moved on. You better keep up with the reader or you will be lost :-)

Actually reading the book: you can stop, reflect, read the sentence again and reflect some more.

edutcher said...

Christy said...

My resolution is not to be seduced by cheap Kindle books. I am shamed by all the unworthy novels I read in 2012.

I soured on Fitzgerald once I realized his truth was that of an outsider who desperately wanted to belong.


Sounds like Choom and white people.

Christy said...

I am commenting via Kindle. Love the way it offers up the rest of a word or the next, but it kept turning d_ r_e_k into "feel." Whee, this is almost as much fun as early spellcheckers.

I'm retro. I use an mp3 player with a sleep function for listening at bedtime so as not to get too lost.

FleetUSA said...

My latest book: Dinner with Churchill , just delightful.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I do think that I will go back and read some of the classics that were mandatory reading in high school and college. A new perspective from my more advanced years might be interesting. (Steinbeck, Crane, Fitzgerald. And then some of the classics by English authors.)

Craig said...

Soldier's rations during the Civil War consisted of crackers called hardtack. The bakery business was transformed by the need to produce large quantities on an industrial scale for the war effort.

Shouting Thomas said...

I have downloaded one book from audible.com. That would be The Gospel of John, performed by Charlton Griffin.

Griffin is a FB friend, too.

He really brings the Gospel to life with a fine dramatic reading.

Christy said...

DBQ, my experience with Cloud Atlas was enhanced by listening rather than reading. Others in my book group were annoyed and never warmed to the segments told in Island patois. I was totally charmed and found it to be my favorite narrative.

Tank said...

Gatsby. What a great book. Makes his others look pretty weak by comparison. The writing itself is ... superb. Actually, makes almost everything look weak LOL. Best course I ever took: college English course where we did nothing but read/discuss Fitz, Hem, and Falkner. Damn, that was good.

I don't see the point in trying to read a certain number of books. I'm good for about 75 a year, but it all depends on the book. I read to (1) lose myself in a good, well written story and/or (2) learn something. I'm reading one of each, Nate Silver and Tessa Hadley's latest.

Robert Cook said...

I find that when I hear William Burroughs read his prose it becomes much clearer in meaning, as he imparts the pauses and emphases that his eccentric punctuation (i.e. an apparent aversion to commas) obscures.

Chip Ahoy said...

I like that you like the book chock full of burnished sentences. I too have such a book as that in mind, Dear and Glorious Physician.

It gets all great reviews if that means anything, so naturally I read the worst ones. They say, and comments to the comments agree, they object to blue eyes. Upon re-reading they realize it's perfection is ruined by the unnatural insertion of blue eyes.

It's sad there were no blue eyes in the ancient world innit.

They coined the term Aryanization -- providing blue eyes -- to formulate their objection because apparently nobody in that area could possibly have had blue eyes nor blond hair, no, that's not possible. Therefore the book must be marked down a few stars. Agreed. Agreed. Agreed.

I have blue eyes and now they have me wondering how that bizarre anomaly could have occurred so late in history. I feel like such an albino.

But, the thing is, polished sentences or not, the story has to carry you and Gatsby just does not for me. I don't like it at all. A guy trying to act rich, and all the little signs that are noted about the differences. Empty new books and such, the blinking light, the unattainable old wealth and such but the story does not grab nor does drive. Me. For me it just goes thud like Ford Maddox Ford. See what I did there? We literary pissants like to toss out other crap books we read Having said that there is inspiration in it. Notably the billboard for eyeglasses that overlooked their down class doings. Constantly watching over their activities. Good one.

I can use that.

At Benton AFB, PA there was a radar that patrolled the sky, part of a system that ran the tippy tops of Appalachian chain. My brother and I played around the base of that radar, exploring around the whole area within the base's fence and beyond. It was a giant radar on top of a box, the box being the building that serviced the radar. The radar being the point of the activity of the whole base. My dad was very please to show us what they did inside. And when I flash to those scenes I smell them, ozone or something, it seems, the electronics have a distinct odor a crisp air and the floors are always like glass. Green glass. The rotating radar was omnipresent. Like Gatsby's monocle billboard, it watched our every move.

We found casings at its base and used them to supplement our plastic army men and shot each other's armies with rubber bands from opposite sides of the room. Did it catch us doing that? No.

caplight45 said...

The best audio book I ever listened to was a Robin Cook medical mystery read by Barry Bostwick. It was Fatal Cure and Bostwick captured New England dialects superbly.

The wife and I logged many miles between Kansas and Boston during the six years we had kids in college there (1525 miles door to door one way) and audio books were indispensable. I like fiction that teaches me something about science or history or another culture.

Carol said...

I read a lot, and am really happy when I have a good book going. Right now I'm on an Evelyn Waugh & Kingsley Amis kick.

But anymore I have trouble remember what I read just in the past couple years because so much comes from the library. I find good stuff up front, new arrivals and staff picks. But sometimes I want to revisit something like Mississippi Rising or Secret Rebel but can't remember the title or anything.

There is another recent work I'm looking for, about railroad history and the evolution of corporate personhood (liberal spin of course but still interesting) but damned if I can remember the title.

I even asked the librarians if they have a record of what I have read and of course they don't.

It's a big civil liberties thing, I guess.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I get distracted by Morgan Freeman trying to sound like a girl.

This.

I tried listening to some Hemingway short stories with Stacy Keach reading dialogue and trying to sound like a woman.

Painful.

I got far enough into the discs to learn that The Snows of Klimanjaro has something to do with gangrene and there's a woman in it who has some speaking lines.

Chip Ahoy said...

When I was on a read a book a day phase following Regis college which forced us to read a ton of books all the time, just blast them then write about what you got from that. Just DO IT!, as time passed I realize I was reading about everybody else's life and not having one of my own and made a decision to stop doing that. Stop reading about other people's lives and start living my own. Of course I already was, but that was a turning point that reading went too far and knock it off.

Mitchell the Bat said...
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Mitchell the Bat said...

And while I'm at it, I know Althouse likes Bill Bryson's speaking voice, but to me he sounds like an exhausted Elmer Fudd trying to do an English accent.

David Foster Wallace is okay, though.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But anymore I have trouble remember what I read just in the past couple years because so much comes from the library. I find good stuff up front, new arrivals and staff picks. But sometimes I want to revisit something like Mississippi Rising or Secret Rebel but can't remember the title or anything.

I'm always doing that. Pick up a book that sounds good, get about 30 pages in and realize that I've read it before. Doh!!

I'm a volunteer at our local, non-profit run library. The county doesn't have any library access for us in the back country so we made our own library and it is better than the branch library in the next town over the mountain!! HAH!! There is a man who comes in who impressed the heck out of me. He keeps a spreadsheet of all of the books he has read, so that he won't accidentally repeat a book. He knows at a glance if he read the book and when....AND he has a numbered rating system for each book. I also imagine that his house is creepily organized like Monk's (the TV character) with OCD...everything neat and anally in place.

Bob Boyd said...

There were probaly hot biscuits in there somewhere, but the whistles were hot because they were steam whistles.

William said...

I heard T.S.Eliot's reading of The Wasteland. He certainly sounded like the kind of guy who would write The Wasteland. How a voice could sound so dessicated and still remain alive is a mystery.

Baron Zemo said...

I read one book every two days or so on my kindle. Every day I get two emails with kindle books under a dollar. Mostly fiction which I alternate with more expensive biographies.

You can get a whole bunch of fun fiction for under a dollar.

ricpic said...

By hot I guess Fitzgerald meant shrill. So what's wrong with shrill whistles? Better than "hot whistles" IMO.

Baron Zemo said...
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wyo sis said...

I might read close to 365 books a year if I get to count children's books.
I usually have at least three books going at the same time. I've purchased more books for myself than ever since e books became easy to get. Publishers should be happy about e books if my experience is typical.

Baron Zemo said...

You can go to the source material and read a biography of Arnold Rothstein who FItzgerald based "The Great Gatsby."

Or at least the most interesting character.

Chip S. said...

Why didn't the train make any noise?

Because it was pulled by an electric locomotive, the only type allowed in the NYC tunnels since the very early 20th century.

wyo sis said...

A hot whistle is not at all the same as a shrill whistle.
I think Fitzgerald is over rated, but the sentence Ann chose is pretty good. Just consider the comments about it. You wouldn't get that much meat in a random sentence from most writers.

ricpic said...

If you listen to audio books in your sleep every night you're messing big time with the dreams that are so essential to keeping you on an even keel, psychically speaking. Explains the Althouse hysteria regarding bad faith comments that pops up from time to time.

Baron Zemo said...

Arnold Rothstein is one of the most fascinating characters in American History. He basically invented organized crime and tutored Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. The portrayal of him on HBO"s "Boardwalk Empire" is right on the money.

He was also the inspiration for numerous novels, short stories and even musicals which range from "The Great Gatsby" to "Guys and Dolls."

"The Big Bankroll" by Leo Katcher in particular is well worth your time.

Astro said...

I've gotten to the point where I just can't bear most fiction anymore. I find the situations and events described to be ridiculous and unbelievable. One example is "The Pillars Of The Earth" (TPOTE). A couple friends recommended it highly, so I promised I'd read it. About 50 pages in I started calling it "Pillars In South Swindon" (PISS).

I enjoy some 'hard' science fiction. The Alex Delaware series by Jack McDevitt being an example; good stories that follow an internal logic with exciting non-contrived action, while delving into the mysteries of human relations and activities.

The other type of fiction I like is a good historical novel, such as the Aubrey-Maturin sea novel series by Patrick O'Brian. The audio versions narrated by Patrick Tull are particulary well done and worthwhile since his pronunciation cleared up some questions I had about certain words and names O'Brian used.

Chip S. said...

By hot I guess Fitzgerald meant shrill.

My guess would be that he meant "hot", as a steam whistle is when it blows.

tiger said...

Let me be yet another person to point the fallacy in the Professor's and article writer's premise:

'Listening is not, I repeat: NOT reading. It is listening.'

These two processes use completely different sense organs.

And don't get me started on 'listening' to books while you sleep.

Unless it's 'Renshawing' it doesn't work.

Baron Zemo said...

Patrick O'Brien is very overrated. There is just not enough action for it to be enjoyable.

If you enjoy sea fiction check out the works of the English author Douglas Reeman in both his name and his more famous pen name of Alexander Kent for rollicking sea stories that are a hell of lot more fun that O'Brien's stuff.

Kirk Parker said...

ken in sc,

Actually what the Brits call 'biscuits' are what we call 'cookies'.

DBQ,

"I do think that I will go back and read some of the classics..."

Melville, Joseph Conrad, Kipling... all available in free Kindle editions if you prefer.

Pete said...

I can only imagine an Althouse student sputtering after failing one of her exams over written course material: "But but but, I listened to the audio version while I was asleep!"

Baron Zemo said...

Patrick O'Brien is for people who love "Masterpiece Theater."

The Alexander Kent books are for people who like HBO.

Robert Cook said...

"Patrick O'Brien is very overrated. There is just not enough action for it to be enjoyable."

I've never read Patrick O'Brien, but "not enough action" is hardly a literary critique, unless that is what one is promised and is expecting.

EMD said...

Took me forever to get through "Gunga Din".

Cary Grant makes it all worthwhile!

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I'm listening to Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum, a really delightful listen. Before that I listened to The River War by Winston Churchill. The motivating factor is that I just got a car that plays .mp3's. No more dreary, depressing news or flatulent talk radio for me. I'm getting the free downloads here.

jacksonjay said...

Pete is right, the schoolmarm would not accept such reasoning from her scholars! Audio books are a pleasant "learning experience" but reading it is not!
I attempt to listen to podcasts as I sleep and would never pass a quiz over what I "read" in my sleep! I readily accept the superior intellect of the Professor, but ....? More and more I'm convinced that Althouse is just pushin buttons!

wyo sis said...

Tyrone
I'm trying to imagine listening to The Federalist Papers. I think I'll try it.

traditionalguy said...
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traditionalguy said...
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traditionalguy said...

Bill Bryson reading his "Shakespeare: The world As Stage" is a treat.

Will from Stratford on the Avon wrote during the Elizabethan Age from 1588 to 1609 which was a boom age for a creative writer. In 1550 there had been 5000 books in all of England and only 37 of them were written in English with the rest written in Latin. That times learned Treatise about the English language was written in Latin.

But by Shakespeare's career there had become some 100,000 books written in English.

The lessons of the Stage they learned then are still very cogent today.

Lincolntf said...

Audio books from the library are great. I've re-"read" a bunch of the modern classics from my high school reading list, along with the standard Sherlock Holmes, Poe, Twain compendiums, Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse and so on... Probably not good for the old gas mileage though, because listening in the car makes me far more amenable to long drives.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

@wyo sis

The Federalist Papers is on mt list, too.

Petunia said...

"Listening" to audio books while asleep is not reading. It's not even taking in the content.

Someone with whom I'm in a Facebook group has got a doctorate (as does everyone in the group). She claims she can speed-read a book in a very short time, but then a week later she doesn't remember the book at all.

What's the point, then?

Of course, based on her other FB postings, she's intolerant and a liar and an idiot. So there's that.

Reading a book a day seems pointless, unless you truly can enjoy what you're reading. Why not go for a book or two a week, that you will enjoy and remember?

Unless your goal is to brag about what a great reader you are. Which is just sad.

rhhardin said...

If you want to fall asleep, I'd choose a science-like lecture with a lot of writing on a blackboard.

There's nothing like blackboard writing for sleep, owing to years of conditioning.

This guy ought to do it.

Zach said...

Has your commenter ever listened to a train? They don't explode, hurtle, or blast. There's a rhythmic and somewhat soothing rumbling. Sometimes they whistle. From the inside of the train, they can be quite quiet -- it's very easy to carry on a conversation.

Second, the sentence is commenting on how quiet and restful everything is. It's a hot day (no air conditioning), and nobody can stay alert. It's a simmering hush -- the imagery is that everything has been cooked until it's limp. A phallic, blasting train would be dissonant.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Baron Zemo said...

Patrick O'Brien is very overrated. There is just not enough action for it to be enjoyable.


De gustibus non disputandum est.

I'm a huge O'Brien fan. His characters are fully fleshed out, his historical research is exhaustive, and his prose is witty and easy to read. I'm reading the Aubrey-Maturin series for the fourth time, and I never get tired of it.

But, no accounting for taste. If it's action you crave, maybe you should stick to H. Rider Haggard?

Ignacio said...

Althouse has never liked the fact that some of literature endures and will be read in after the author is dead whereas nothing of her blog would be remembered in six months were she to get hit by a bus tomorrow afternoon.

Every so often she comes out with one manner or another of what amount to attacks on literature. Every two months or so, approximately. This is why I stopped regularly participating in the blog some years ago. I still occasionally enjoy reading her comments on topics of the day, despite (or even because of) her rampant egotism.

My guess is that becoming a television personality was her ultimate goal, but that somehow just hasn't worked out, despite the occasional forays into, uh... Bloggingheads.

sydney said...

I've been listening to audiobooks while I do my paperwork at night. Right now I am listening to Victor Hugo's 93. The reader doesn't have much voice character range, though, so I find it a little irritating. Nonetheless, knowing I will be treating myself to a book makes me dread doing my paperwork a little less.

I have been using audible.com, but I am going to try my library's audio service and that free google list mentioned in the comments above.

I prefer reading the books, though. I find I miss quite a bit when I am listening. But, my current schedule only allows time to read about 1 to 2 pages a day. Very slow going.

Strelnikov said...

Sleep reading? Hey, that's the how I learned brain surgery.

Crunchy Frog said...

I can only imagine an Althouse student sputtering after failing one of her exams over written course material: "But but but, I listened to the audio version while I was asleep!"

Well, if he records it in audio she can grade it in her sleep.

creeley23 said...

Audio books are a good way to go for absorbing more fiction than one might otherwise.

But there are a lot, a lot, a lot of books I want to get to that will take more than a day to absorb and I accept that.

There are few books I could read in a day that I would want to read. The only one that comes to mind is "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and that was, technically, a novella.

I think a big part of the appeal of movies is that you can take in a movie in a couple hours.

Books are much more time and work.

Astro said...

Patrick O'Brien is very overrated. There is just not enough action for it to be enjoyable.

Wild guess here - you didn't get through the first book. The first book gets off to a slow start. It was written in the 70s. Certainly by today's standards - where the unwashed masses expect a J J Abrams style beginning, with the equivalent of explosions and cameras shaking and megadecibel background music - the opening scene with Aubrey and Maturin enjoying some chamber music will be too refined and slow. Your loss.

Astro said...

And by the way, it's Patrick O'Brian. With an 'a'. Not that you'd probably care.

Anne Cacioppo said...

Thirteen years ago, I happened to be at my folks for New Years. Both my Dad and my significant other were asleep in couches and Mom and I were sitting drinking and gossiping. The subject of resolutions came up and somehow we decided we were going to do a good deed at least once every day for a year.

It seemed so much better than depriving ourselves of something or quitting something or losing weight or whatever. It could be as simple as letting someone ahead of us in traffic, helping a person find the right aisle in the grocery or even being nice to a telemarketer.

My Mom passed away that year. I have done a good deed every day since, for the last thirteen years. And every time I do, I think of her.

John said...

I "read" a book every 3 weeks from the old Books On Tape. At that time I was driving 35,000 miles/yr and had plenty of time for them. I probably read 150-175 books from them.

When they went out of business, I got out of the habit.

I have read several Audible books and do not like their approach. They seem to want to act out the book rather than read it.

5-6 years ago I discovered Librivox.org which is sort of like Gutenberg for audio books. Volunteer readers of public domain books. Something like 20,000 titles.

Currently reading "The Duke's Children" by Anthony Trollope. I generally listen in bed and fall asleep halfway through the chapter. While I technically continue listening after I fall asleep, am I really getting anything out of the book?

I don't think so.

John Henry

John said...

I do read a lot. I've probably averaged 2 books a week since I was 14 or so.

Since I got a Kindle 3 years ago, I have gotten completely spoiled. I find I can't read paper books anymore.

I probably read more than ever now. Especially since I can have a book on my phone to read wherever I am.

I don't consider audio books to be a substitute for visual books. I enjoy both. This is the 2nd or 3rd time for listening to "The Duke's Children" and I have read it a couple of times over the years. One version complements the other.

Currently reading, on my Kindle, Evelyn Waugh's "Sword of Honor" trilogy about WWII. I've read the book a dozen times over the past 25 years and it never gets old. Kindle now has it in a single volume for about $8.

What's everyone else reading?

John Henry

sydney said...

I have tried a LibriVox version of Summa Theologica. Didn't care for it. The reader sounded like he was imitating Wormwood when he read the "contra" arguments. I will have to give them a chance with other titles. I am still looking for a good reading os Summa Theologica, though. I stumbled across a reading on a Catholic radio station once while travelling through Pennsylvania that was very well done, but I have not been able to locate a recording of it.

Dr Weevil said...

sydney:
How did they make the Contra arguments sound like Wormwood? I enjoyed the LibriVox Paradise Lost until Satan started talking - fairly early on, of course - and they were using a reverb machine! It made him sound like the villain in a cheap horror movie. I couldn't continue for laughing.

tim maguire said...

I read more slowly than I'd like for shorter periods than I'd like. I remember facts best this way, but narrative worst.

stephenfromlongisland c said...

Good book, but any friend of the author's would have said, upon reading it, good book, lots of great sentences. But now go do what you need to do for your friends and loved ones and sober up. Literature is finite: sobriety is infinite.

Ann Althouse said...

@Anne Beautiful. I am going to make a separate post out of that.

sydney said...

Dr. Weevil,

We used to have a book on tape of The Screwtape Letters and the narrator sounded like the Wormwood voice from those tapes when he read the contra arguments.

Baron Zemo said...

Thank you elitist reader boys.

Unfortunately I slogged through the entire Patrick O'Brien catalog and it was a long and tedious and overrated slog at that.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with
H. Rider Haggard or Robert E. Howard or Talbot Mundy or Edgar Rice Burroughs or Zane Grey or Kenneth Roberts or in the current day Eric Flint or SM Stirling or David Weber or Bernard Cornwell.

Patrick O'Brien is adventure fiction for people who are too snooty for adventure fiction.

But your condescension and smug elitism is noted for the record.

Happy New Year.

Baron Zemo said...

I do apologize for misspelling Mr. O'Brian's name. He deserves better than that.

It has been a long time since I slogged through his books and I have since donated them to charity.

I understand they were very helpful to the treatment of sleep apnea and insomnia.

wyo sis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Haz said...

@Anne - Thank you. I will use your idea as my 2013 resolution. It is so good on many levels.

rcocean said...

"There is absolutely nothing wrong with H. Rider Haggard or Robert E. Howard or Talbot Mundy or Edgar Rice Burroughs or Zane Grey..."

Or C.S. Forester or Sir Walter Scott or Mickey Spillane or Raymond Chandler.

And good God, literal-minded nobodies criticizing F. Scott Fitzgerald for not writing literal minded prose. But that's the intertubes.

rcocean said...

Now its time to go join the party.

Happy New Year!

JAL said...

@ sydney -- Re the recordinh -- ask over at The Anchoress . She or one of her friends might know what the recording you heard was.

We always take books on CD when we travel. (I frequently listen running around locally). It's allowed us to listen to some fabulous (and often long) non- fiction ("Into the Silence") that we would take forever to read. I also catch some light weight mysteries and thrillers.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

@Baron Zemo

Let me get this straight-- you find Patrick O'Brian intolerably boring, but you went ahead and read all twenty books? You are either full of shit or a masochist.

Nichevo said...

I was a Horatio Hornblower groupie/fanboy/worshiper in my youth. Having discovered PoB I am reminded of the comparison of Stephen Crane to Leo Tolstoy as a teller of war stories. Sorry you didn't like Audrey-Maturin, Troop; and I forgive you.

Nichevo said...

Aubrey, dammit! Lowbrow Android spellcheck!

Christy said...

Terry Pratchett should be heard rather than read. So should much of Neil Gaiman and all of J.K. Rowling. Why read The Iliad when you can listen? Margaret Atwood is good listening. Don't under any circumstance listen to A.S. Byatt's Possession. Half should be skimmed. Non- fiction is hard. I start to think and find myself lost in the audio book. I listened to Shelby Foote's Civil War on a long road trip -- great listening, but I missed being able to haul out historical maps.

Baron Zemo said...

I read through all of them because I heard so much about it was supposed to be great.

That's why I post here. Just sayn'

Baron Zemo said...

The reason I read them all was that I got them as a present and when I needed something to read....well there they were.

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