Friday, June 26, 2009

Feeling Bookish

One thing I might not have mentioned last week is that I tend to stress out about, oh, everything. My brain is always working overtime planning out the next day, week, or you know, hour. I construct conversations in my head before I ever have them, and then I deconstruct them afterward, thinking about what I should have said, or analyzing what exactly the other party meant by what they said. The brain, it does not have an off switch. Or it didn’t - until I discovered audiobooks. Now they don’t have a 100% success rate, but most of the time, I can turn on a good audiobook and get lost in someone else’s world.

Frankly, I always thought of audiobooks as boring stuff for old people. I gave them a shot because I realized that I was spending my entire drive to work at 6:30 in the morning stressing out about the work I had to complete that day. I have a fairly demanding job and a lot of the things I do (or don’t do) have a significant effect on other people’s lives. I mean if I have an off day – oops!, your sick kid has no health insurance, or oops!, my company gets sued for ridiculous sums of money, or maybe oops!, I don’t know WHO his life insurance beneficiary was, the two of you will just have to duke it out – just to name a few prime examples. I would start the day completely drained before it even began. I tried listening to music, but I would keep advancing to the next song on the iPod as my brain churned, and that wasn’t helping. It was fortunate that the first audiobook I tried was “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. The author was also the narrator, and that gave the book an extra spark for me. I loved that book like I haven’t loved a book in a long time. I didn’t necessarily agree with her life view on everything, but I loved reading about her life experience. And it came at a time that I really needed to hear it. To this day I pop that book in the CD player every time I’m feeling a little restless, and I swear it drops my blood pressure 10 points.

Since then I’ve discovered that my tolerance for audiobooks depends 100% on the narrator. I can tell you within 5 minutes whether I’m going to make it through the book or not. It could be a really fantastic book – for example, I was enchanted by “My Life In France”, a memoir of Julia Child’s life, but the way the narrator pronounced the French words in the text made me nauseous. I had to stop two discs in. But I was really enjoying the book itself, and now it’s on my “To Be Read in Print” list.

So I thought since I love books, I’d occasionally tell you what I’m currently devouring so those of you who dig that kind of stuff can check it out. (Side note: I thought about having a song of the day each Friday, but my music tastes are probably a little too random for the masses. Or in my husband’s opinion, too sleep inducing for public consumption.) Another thing about audiobooks – they are ridiculously expensive. So I frequent the local libraries to get free audiobooks in conjunction with my library high. Yesterday I checked out “The Girl Who Stopped Swimming” by Joshilyn Jackson. I have also listened to her book “Between Georgia” and it was one of my favorites. I am already so engulfed in this one that I hate to get out of the car when I arrive at my destination. Yesterday Mark came home to find me sitting in the dark garage with the car off just so I could hear five more minutes of the story. The author narrates these too, and I really love what that adds to the book, it makes me feel like I’m getting to know the characters as they were made to be known. There are some exceptions to that rule though (I’m looking at you Elizabeth Berg*). Great authors are not always great narrators.

If you enjoy Joshilyn Jackson’s books (or even if you don’t) you should check out her personal blog too. It’s pretty funny stuff. I just found the site recently and I’m so tempted to start with the archives and read through the whole thing, but I’m a little late to the party and that would be FIVE YEARS worth of material. Don’t put it past me though, I’ve done it before. (Did I mention the OCD thing? Um, yeah.) And you know…I’ve been wondering how to fill the lazy vacation days I have scheduled for next week with something that would keep me from reorganizing every closet in the house (as necessary as that may be). We’ll just see. Check back next week and I’ll let you know how it goes. Regretfully, I would place my wager on the closets if I were you.

* ed. note: I’m referring to the author, not the childhood friend with the identical maiden name who now happens to follow this blog!


  1. now i want to read a book! (and organize a closet.)

  2. That is really cool, Mary that you are loving your books and also reducing your stress level (always a plus!!). I had to laugh at your comment to Elizabeth Berg and took a double take for a brief moment since that is the name you knew me as at FBC Euless!! LOL Anyways, I am intrigued by the idea of an audio book and might check it out the next time I am at the library.