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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