I can tell that school is back in session because I'm not reading a novel. I'm reading Newsweek, O, The New Yorker, and the Sunday newspaper. I'm reading small things that float across my desk--mail, advertisements, and bills. I'm reading student work, essays and short stories. I'm gearing up to read novel sections and some editing projects coming my way. I'm also trying to write my new novel, and that takes up "story" time, too.
This is why I love books on CD. During all the hours that I drive, I can "read," or, at least, I can imagine. I can fall into that tribal pattern of listening, that older than reading mode of hearing story. I've been listening to books for years, back in the olden days when they were on tape. I listened to children's books with my children as we drove around town, and I listened to adult stories with them, too.
Once, my youngest son got in the car after school, turned to me and said, "Can we listen to the novel?"
We did, listening on the way home, taking in the story together. We did this often, and he would ask me what he missed. Sometimes, we would rewind and listen to it again, just so we were both on the "same page."
Michael and I now share our CDs, both of us listening to the same stories, talking not only about the plot and characters but the readers of the tales. The readers--their voices, their acting skills--can make a book I would not normally read palatable. Long tomes of history suddenly come alive. Slightly "thin" novels full of mostly plot become interesting and rich, the reader's voice deep and thrilling.
Tell me a story and I'll lay it all down. Tell me a story, and I'll drive anywhere to get to the end.
My latest novel The Beautiful Being comes out on Wednesday. To anyone wanting a free copy, please write to me by 7 pm today at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send the first five who write a copy.