Faye Rapoport DesPres

A little light reading

Now that I’m teaching at Framingham State, I actually have to leave my home office at least twice a week. This means interacting with colleagues, students, and other members of the campus community — not the easiest thing for a somewhat solitary soul. At the same time, it’s refreshing, a good change.

I also have to drive further than I usually do on a regular basis; it takes me about half an hour to drive to campus from my home. I’ve never enjoyed driving. One of the best things about my time in Boulder, Colorado, was that I was able to ride my bicycle to and from work.

Driving does provide one opportunity, however. During a period when I have less time than ever for reading, I can listen to audiobooks in the car (the term “books on tape” is so outdated). The most cost-effective way to do this is to “rent” audiobooks from the library through online downloads. I’ve found, however, that it is more difficult to navigate through a text on an MP3 player, and to guarantee the clarity of the sound. My car is six years old, which means, oddly, that it is also outdated (no fancy iPod or Smartphone connection, just a curly, wiry contraption that plugs into an old-fashioned car lighter and somehow uses a local radio station for bandwidth).

So the other day I decided to splurge on two audiobooks on CD from Amazon.com.

Ah, the choices! They are endless. But one of the things I’ve hoped to get back to lately is reading the great classics. I have usually read maybe half of the books on the “Top XX greatest books” lists that various publications put out, leaving so many unread classics. For my first purchase, I’ve chosen two I’ve been wanting to read for a long time: Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I must have read To Kill a Mockingbird at some point in my life, but because I don’t remember doing so, I decided to listen to it. As for Lolita, I have a beautiful, old, type-set hard cover of the novel that sat on my father’s bookshelf for decades. I opened it once and, after reading just a few sentences, was stunned at the beauty of the prose. But I haven’t found time to read the whole book, so now I’ll be listening to it.

Can’t wait.

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