What to read: Road Trip Edition


I have several hours in the car ahead of me on Monday. The best way that I know of to make a long trip when you are driving by yourself go quickly is to listen to an audio book. So, I decided to see what audio books the library might have.

I had a brief hope that the library branch I went to would have a copy of George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Unfortunately, it was not available. So, I spent 30 minutes I didn’t have to spare today searching for something else to take with me.

There were plenty of “Great Courses”, but I thought that all of those were likely candidates to either put me to sleep (not good, Driver!) or would be better suited for something with video (understanding geometry without any visuals?). There were several discs that would retell most of Shakespeare’s plays. Perhaps a good option, but again, unless it was originally decided for audio-only, I can’t imagine “listening” to a play. The sci-fi audio books had their own 2 shelves worth; the mystery audio books was the largest section, stretching on for several shelves and bookcases.

I eliminated anything that was more than 10 hours. I figure that I wouldn’t find be likely to listen to anything more than that. I should only finish about 8 hours worth, unless there is some colossal traffic jam on 80/94. Another hour or two I would be able to find time for. But there were some audio books that were 24 – 30 hours long. I rarely am in my car for trips longer than 10 minutes, and I don’t think that I’d have the patience to sit on my sofa while someone read to me for any length of time.

What did I settle upon? I checked out three audio books:

1. Washington Square, Henry James. Why? Because it’s James! And I’ve never read it before.

2. The Dubliners, James Joyce. Selection criteria: contains two of the best short stories ever: “Araby” and “The Dead”. Actually, “Araby”, though a great story, doesn’t come close to “The Dead”. Few short stories do.

3. Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom. How did this make its way from shelf to bar code scanner to my car? I’ve been thinking a lot about how people reinvent themselves. I’ve heard and read a lot on the Internets recently about the current recession causing people to find new careers paths. While my current reasons for not working are not related to the recession, I find myself at a crossroads wondering where I will head next. A book about retirees who have forged second or third careers seemed timely.

Who knows what kind of mood I will be in as I drive? Whatever it is, the mood will determine which of these I will listen to. One thing I do know: if I don’t get to bed soon, I will not be keeping to my timetable.

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2 responses to “What to read: Road Trip Edition

  1. Joe, Plays are a great idea! I almost picked up recording of Shakespeare, but what the library had was not one I was interested in listening to (The Winter’s Tale, which I just saw a few months ago). Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. yes, listening to audio in the car is a great way to travel.

    i’ve always found trollope to be a good listen, and there’s a lot of it.

    i’ve listened to a lot of plays. try it. they work. pick a fugard, for example.

    itunes university has some great courses. the princeton civil war lectures are great.