one of my favourite book series is otherland by tad williams. i’ve read it more than half a dozen times; it’s one of my go-to reads when i just can’t cope with life. at the end of october i was thrilled to see that the first two books, city of golden shadow and river of blue fire, were available as audio books. i finished city of golden shadow this morning.
there’s something about reading your favourite books over and over again. you almost always find something new in them, something small that you missed the other times (at least that’s what happens for me). but you still end up skimming parts. maybe the phone rings and you look to see who it is. maybe you hear a song on the radio or anderson cooper comes on tv. but an audio book requires your full attention and suddenly there’s all this nuance that you didn’t hear in your head when you were reading it. suddenly the story is so much bigger, so much more intense, so much more. williams’ otherland series is the perfect example of this. the characters are still the ones i pictured every time i read the books but now they’re in colour, not just in black and white. now, i’m finding myself holding my breath during certain scenes, awaiting the outcome, even though intellectually i know what’s going to happen.
whether you’ve read the otherland series or not, i can’t recommend the audio books enough. they really bring the story to life in a way i wasn’t expecting but was, in all honesty, hoping would be the case. the first two are on audible and i’m hoping the third and fourth will be available soon.
keeping with the reading is fun theme, i read a book riot opinion post today about abandoning books. unless they violate my personal rule about reading i really try not to abandon books, especially books i’m supposed to review. this has led to me having some exceptionally long read times on some books because i just didn’t like them. i’m not talking about books that violated my boundaries, as i said i have rules about reading books and if a book violates one of those rules i’m done with it and don’t review it. after all, it’s not the author’s fault that i either didn’t research the books topic enough or that the objectionable material wasn’t delineated in descriptions or press material.
but what to do about those books we just don’t like? those books that drag on and make us hate looking at our kindle (or nook, or whatever)? those books that make us turn on a simpsons marathon or open 20 tabs of buzzfeed articles? articles like finish that book! don’t help us feel any better about ourselves. you STOPPED reading a book? you’re killing literature. you’re ruining civilization! thanks, atlantic monthly, that makes me feel so much better.
peter damien‘s opinion piece reading is not a chore: on quitting books brings common sense and sanity back into the discussion. it’s not about saving the state of literature, writes damien, but about acknowledging that maybe you and the book just aren’t clicking right now. realizing that it’s not that the book is bad but that you and the book aren’t compatible right now sounds like a very freeing idea. although, come on, sometimes a book is just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad book (i’m looking at you moby dick)!
i like the idea of giving myself permission to set a book aside just because it’s not happening for me. i like the idea of not forcing myself to turn something i love doing into something that fills me with dread and makes me feel guilty every time i look at my kindle (or nook). most of all, i like damien’s advice:
when you love something, don’t do variations on that thing which will make you hate it.