The Driving Story

These days I am doing a lot of commuting back and forth to Raliegh. Last night I finished teaching a class at nine at night and I had to be back in the same place at 8:30 this morning to set up to teach another class. Thankfully late at night there is no traffic to slow me down, but that is not always the case in the morning rush hour. The only thing that is saving me on all this back and forth travel are the books on audible I listen to.

Currently I am 17 hours into Jonathan Franzen’s 24 hour long book Crossroads. It has kept me enthralled enough to look forward to getting in the car and not necessarily getting right out when I arrive home. Sometimes I sit in the driveway finishing a chapter, which is always dangerous because then I want to go right on to the next chapter. I have kept the book playing on my phone and come inside, but find there are certain chores that are more compatible with listening to a book and some that are not.

Driving is an excellent time to listen, especially if I already know where I am going. Gardening is also a prime listening activity, along with mopping, and cleaning the kitchen. I have made whole complicated quilts while listening without an issue. Things that I can’t do at the same time as listening to a book are reading, especially mail, either paper or “e,” writing something by hand that is longer than a couple of sentences or doing math.

It is terrible when a text comes in while I am listening. I often will read the text and even respond and then realize I have missed some of the important plots points. It is so interesting that I can’t multitask the same way when listening to a book as I can when listening to music.

Thanks to my pandemic book club of three very literary friends who keep me supplied with good and well written things to listen to. The list in the past year has been much more high brow than I would have chosen on my own. Some of my favorites to listen to in the recent past have been,The Midnight Library, Snow by John Banville, Hamnet, and The Lincoln Highway.

During the real lockdown days of the pandemic I was reading real books and not listening as much so that I could have the book to share with friends when I was done, but as life picked up a little, especially since the summer I have found myself downloading books much more. I can’t drive and read a paper book, although in all my years of travel I have seen plenty of people doing that. They were obviously too busy reading while driving to notice me waving my hands out the window screaming at them. I know that making the same drive over and over again is boring, so than goodness for audible. I can listen and drive, but I can’t read and drive.

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