this i believe

This I Believe | Audio turns the page on tradition

April 5, 2014 

It’s 6 a.m. I peel myself off the bed. I drag myself to the shower. I get dressed.

I grab my lunch, my coffee mug, my gym bag. I get into the car.

For the next 15 minutes as I drive to work, suddenly it’s not a Monday morning any longer. And it’s not freezing January outside. I am engulfed in the wonderful, crazy, scary, challenging world of a book I am listening to on my smartphone.

I believe in audiobooks.

It seems to me that audiobooks don’t get as much respect as “real” printed books, or even e-books. Snobby readers don’t consider listening to a book the same as reading.

But I feel differently. To me, audiobooks are less demanding than printed books — more friends than mentors.

They don’t expect you to stop your life for the pleasure of reading. They say: “Hey, I know you are busy. Do what needs to be done. But I am here for you if you need me.”

They can turn any tedious task into an adventure. I listen to my books while driving, doing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, folding laundry or working out at the gym.

I actually find myself looking forward to all and any of those chores. Why? Because I am eager to know what will happen next in my book.

And there is one more, not practical but emotional, reason audiobooks are special to me.

I lost my father very recently. When I was growing up he used to read to me all the time, especially when I was sick. Most people read to their kids when they are young. My dad read to me even when I was in high school.

I would be sick in bed all day. He would come home, change out of his work suit, take a book from my hands and just start reading aloud, sometimes for hours.

But more often he would take one of our all-time favorites from the bookshelf — James Fenimore Cooper’s “Leatherstocking Tales” or something by Mayne Reide — and savor it with me as though he himself were a child again, reading the story for the very first time.

I would close my eyes, smell the faint tobacco scent on his clothes and listen to his voice. I imagine myself not in the suburbs of Moscow, but in the faraway America of the 19th century, the land of frontiers and Indians, plantation owners and wild horse catchers, pathfinders and trappers.

Never in my life did I feel more loved and protected than during those times with my father.

For me, to be read to is to be loved. In some ways that’s what I feel when I listen to audiobooks. And that is why I believe in audiobooks!

Vicka Pevzner lives in State College. Her essay aired March 20 on WPSU.

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