A reading workaround

When I was 7 years old, my parents bribed me to read.

I had been asking them to buy me Uno (yes, the card game) and they said that if I read regularly for a month, they’d get it for me.  My mother made a chart and hung it on my bedroom door.  Every day that I did my reading, I got a star sticker.  I could read anything I wanted.  I think I read a lot of Ramona Quimby and Sweet Valley Twins that month.  Remember, I was 7 and this was the 1980s and…. well ok, I admit that now I read the adult equivalent of SVT.  It was fun reading!

At the end of the month I had enough stickers that my parents bought me Uno.  I also had a new-found love of reading.  Uno and reading – it was a good month!  Reading used to be a chore, and now I hated to put a book down.  I’d read after school.  I’d read at restaurants.  I’d read while I walked through parking lots (that one was discouraged.)  I’d read with a flashlight under the covers, long after I was supposed to be asleep.  Suddenly reading was great.

I read through the rest of elementary school and by 6th grade, I’d run out of books to try in the school library.  I made a good dent in the junior high school library’s selection after that.  I read through high school and college, and somehow I even found time to read in grad school (though mostly just on the long bus rides every day.)  I always have a book to read.  I have dozens of books at home, waiting to be read.  I go to the public library constantly.  No, I don’t read all day every day, but I do read at some point every day.  It’s rare that I go for a day without picking up a book.

At least, it was rare.  It was rare until a few weeks ago when the fatigue got especially bad.  Now, I’ve been falling asleep when I read.  I can’t get through more than a few pages at a time.  At night, I fall asleep before I even open the book.  I’ve spent 2 weeks on a book, a good book, and only got through 50 pages.

And then it all changed.  I got through another 50 pages of that book just this afternoon.  How did I do it?  I got the audio book!  I prefer to read, since I’m a visual learner, and I feel like I get deeper into the subject matter when it’s on a page in front of me, but an audio book is better than no book!  For a lot of people, audio books are much easier.  For years, I have had to simply not read large hardcover books.  Thanks to my joint point, I find them too heavy.  I did get a Kindle, but a lot of those books are expensive, and I can’t afford to buy all of them.  What to do?  Viola!  The library has audio books!  I just ordered two more audio books today!  [A shoutout to the Minuteman Library Network.  I go on their web site, pick the book, cd, dvd, etc. that I want, and it gets delivered to any branch I choose, all for free.  If only all other municipal services worked like this!  Plus, their staff is always helpful and pleasant.  I can’t say enough good things about our libraries.]

While I’ll miss reading, I have to admit, it’s nice to zip through a book.  I’m a very slow reader.  I may read every day, and spend hours at it, but it will still take me a long time to get through a single book.  Today, I listened to a big chunk of the book while I took a walk (and I walked longer because of it!), played solitaire on the computer, knitted another section of a scarf, made dinner, ate dinner, washed the dishes, and sorted through some junk on a shelf.  Sometimes I read while I eat dinner, but I couldn’t have read a book while I did any of those other things.

So this is my Ode to the Audiobook.  Having CIs sucks, and there are a lot of things I can’t do now, but every now and then I find a workaround, and it just makes things so much better.


** By the way, I’m not suggesting that anyone else bribe their child to read.  The same technique didn’t work on my sister.  I’m just glad it worked on me.

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