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COMMENTARY

Enjoying a good read -- out of the dashboard

August 17, 2007|Susan Reimer | Baltimore Sun

I hesitate to admit this in polite company, but if I didn't listen to books, I wouldn't read at all.

I have a daily commute that is almost an hour in each direction, and for many years I have spent the rest of my time driving kids hither and yon.

During that time, I bet I "read" 500 books -- books that I would not have had the time or the inclination to read if I'd had consumption or two broken legs.

But a recent article in the New York Times echoes the bigotry that caused me to quietly withdraw from my book club. There are a lot of people who believe that listening to a book is cheating. I thought it was just my book club, but apparently there is a real schism in book groups over whether you read the book or have it read to you.

And I thought abridged was cheating.

To settle this, I went to a higher authority: Carla Hayden, executive director of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library. "No, it is not cheating," she said. "I think we should appreciate the fact that we have so many ways now to enjoy literature."

Hayden said that the Pratt had increased its purchases of recorded books because they are popular. "To hear an author read it can be magical," Hayden said.

"You can hear the voice the authors were hearing in their heads when they were writing those words."

There is nothing I would like better than to curl up under an afghan on a rainy afternoon and spend three or four hours with a good book.

But I'd probably fall asleep inside the first 10 minutes.

Life being what it is, I will take my books where I can get them and my reading time when I can -- out of the dashboard of my van, on the long ride home.

It's not like waiting for the movie to come out.

That would be cheating.

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