Thoughts and other Miscellany

Musing Mondays – Covers, Audio, Amount and Textbooks

Catch up post – 4 weeks in one! Aren’t you lucky.Do you judge a book by its cover?

Don’t we all? I have previously written on a Booking Through Thursday post regarding covers, but I didn’t really say whether it was something I did. I have to confess that my book buying can be pretty indiscriminate and based mostly on author and title, but if I’m browsing displays where the covers are obvious (i.e. the books are stacked cover up, rather than spine out), I’ll be much more selective about my covers. Judith just ran a feature on ugly covers, and the sheer awfulness of quite a few of the ones that featured really surprised me.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Why, or why not?

I never used to; they take far too long (10+ hours compared to 2-3 hours to read a standard sized book), they’re expensive, but my main objection was the attention ratio needed. If listening to the audiobook is my only task, my mind wanders, as it does if I am walking somewhere or sitting on public transport with my mind in neutral. If I try to listen while doing housework, cooking, working, I don’t devote enough attention to the audiobook and I find I lose my place easily.

However, at the start of this year I hit on two factors for success: only listen to audiobooks when cycling (obviously only with one non-noise-excluding headphone so I can hear traffic clearly) or driving long distances, because the attention split is perfect – the story drowns out muscle exhaustion as you fight with that hill/grumpiness as the rain pours down on you/annoyance as you sit in yet another traffic jam on the M6. Secondly, only listen to audiobooks that I know I will enjoy – audio is not the format for trying out a new author or genre. I struggled with Counting the Stars by Helen Dunmore until I realised that I wouldn’t have even opened it in book form (historical romance of sorts written in very poetic language). I had a much better time with The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney (historical murder mystery of sorts, in deepest pioneer Canada).

Would you say that you read about the same amount now as when you were younger? More? Less? Why?

Well. Up until I was 13, you would NEVER see me without a book. Mini-me is the same now too; any trip to the opera, restaurant, or formal occasion would find a Saddle Club or Enid Blyton book tucked away in Dad’s suit pocket to be slipped to the bored reader. Enti bags (as we call the bag full of entertainment necessary) for long plane or car trips always had three times more reading matter than could possibly be consumed on that trip. No shopping trip was complete without a book purchase, and our generous parents never refused us a book. (If I went on a spree I might be asked to downsize from 6 books to 4, but still)

But from about the age of 13 I was simply too busy with school and sport and music and everything to do much reading. I also developed a tendency to car-nausea at that point so I couldn’t read in the car any more. As a result, my non-school related reading shrunk to nearly nothing; I still read voraciously on planes and holidays but it wasn’t part of daily life any more. I didn’t take a book to breakfast. Mini-me appears not to have reached this stage (I hope she never does!).

But, chatting with a friend while on accountancy camp in North Wales (oh yes, it does exist…) I realised just how little of the body of impressive literature I had read. An Oxford degree and an accountancy job do not a well-read person make, so off I set on my classics diet. The diet may not have worked out for me, but I’ve read over 80 books this year, so I think I’m achieving my objective of widening my reading!

Other than for school, do you read books to learn how to do something? What was/were the topic(s)?

Isn’t that what the internet is for? I do have to read textbooks for my Open University degree, and I own Vehicle Maintenance for Women (because while I can drive and The Physicist can’t, I am terrible at remembering to or even knowing how to do any kind of maintenance on Bunbury – the car – and Cecily – the bike).

But no, I’m not much of a voluntary textbook reader. I would like to learn some programming and internet coding skills, but I have a little bit too much other stuff going on in life at the moment.


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