Do you ever have this strange sensation: that January is the most important month of a year but yet is the shortest?
I do, I think what we do and how we feel in January define the whole year, our dream, hope, fantasy, expectations and resolutions, we tend to put them all in January, like planting seeds, and yet, it ends before we have time to say: wait, here is another « hope » I forgot to tell you my dear calenda…...
It is like eating a 300g chocolate bar. You will tell yourself, it is three times bigger and longer than all those pitiful 100g chocolate bars, you will be able to get much more enjoyment out of it, and then, before you know it, the foil paper is holding nothing anymore. But how can it be? Did I really?
Yes, you did really, one night, in bed, with warm fire, soft light and goose down duvet, holding a good book in one hand, and a few tasty chocolate squares in another, you told yourself: just a few more squares, everything is so perfect, just a few more, the night is still young, just a few…...
To me, January is just like that, you think you are holding 31 days in your hand, but you never do, January 1 is of course just one such chocolate day, then Jan.5, 11, 12...21…... it seems there is always more reason to celebrate and indulge in this month, as if it were an extra month, a gift of god.
And this January, I have squandered in traveling. Just one more small trip, I said to myself, then, just another small trip, just 3 days...then it was February 1, I was still traveling.
But the wonderful thing about traveling this time, is I found how much I love reading book through listening…
Listening to book has become such a natural habit to me now that I start to forget how wonderful it is to be able to do so. But the non stop travel of January, made me realize that reading a book by listening is my favorite thing in this technology era after Steve Jobs’s iTunes library.
It took back all those time we think are born for wasting:
Waiting for a plane to take off and land, waiting for security check or checked luggage, waiting for the arrival of a train at the platform, waiting for… all those minutes even hours otherwise defined as “in between” and spent without any guilt or shame or consciousness (or most likely anxiety and nervousness), were saved by a voice reading a book you have wanted to read but have failed to find time.
It enhanced reading experience:
I have read De Profundis of Oscar Wilde Long time ago, in print form. But listening to it again, narrated by Simon Russell, in a small city in Italy, made it a much more special book to me: i still remuer an early afternoon, it was time for siesta(nap)of the italians, there was nobody on the streets, other than an occasional tradesman or a beggar. It was a small city in Northern Italy, not famous, not touristy, half empty even in the busiest time, and the proof of ongoing crisis was everywhere, the closed shops, restaurants, and the red signs of “for sale” of real estate agencies were everywhere.
I was there, walking on those small narrow cobbled streets having being walked on for hundreds of years, now almost abandoned, listening to one of my favorite writers living more than a hundred years away, in disgrace, poverty and prison, expressing his deepest feeling to his undeserving lover Boise in the most sincere and eloquent way, it broke my heart, piece by piece.
It made the book stay with me more vividly:
It happens all the time, we read, and we forget, then we read more, and we forget more.
But I found listening to a book made me remember more and remember better. Léonardo da Vinci thought sight is our most important and precious organ, I agree with him, If i had to choose between losing eyes and ears, i would always choose ears, but listening to Demian of Hermann Hesse narrated by Jeff Woodman at the airport of one city, a restaurant of another, and finishing it in the hotel swimming pool of yet another city, made Demian the boy, Demian the man, Demian the face and the voice organic parts of my travel and an unforgettable part of my memory, together with the name of that airport, the color of menu of that restaurant, and the shape and size of the swimming pool in that hotel.
It made me being more conscious of time.
Demian, unabridged, 5 hour 46 minutes, De profundis 4 hour 54 minutes. Books used to mean pages, 249 pages, 300 pages, 356 pages, but now, the audible form gives book a different measurement, a different dimension.
While reading a good book in print, I almost always get lost in it and loss sense of time. While it is harmless at home or alone, slightly annoying when I need to meet someone at a certain time slot, it can be disastrous while I travel.
But now, i synchronise those “ in between moments” of travel with book listening, with the timer set accordingly at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 60 minutes, so just as the voice in my ear slowly fade away, the train would slowly glide into a station, or a flight attendant would start to announce it is time to board...at times,the synchronisation worked so perfectly it gave me a strange sensation that the whole universe is in harmony.
Some books are written to listen instead of reading.
Nothing can compare with holding a book in your hand, between your palms, with your eyes and fingers touching the words, the sentences, every single letter, but I found out now some books are so much more fun and enjoyable to listen to, particularly those with lots of characters and actions, I enjoyed immensely Her Royal spyness written by Rhys Bowen, a writer I have never heard of.
I could list many reasons why I like this book:
The language in general is melodic in general, except a few times when it is too long winded I want to close my ears.
The main Character is funny,witty, at times resourceful and always attracts trouble: the main character Georgiana (Géorgie) is like Rebecca (Becky) of Sophie Kinsella with a royal title, or at times Bertie Wooster of P.G.Wodehouse in a woman form.
Plot is smart: The author made Georgiana the 34th in royal line, so it is safe enough not to put her into too many direct contact with real historic events, but at the same time allow her some harmless royal privilege like having tea with the queen or meeting Wallis Simpson in her friend’s boutique.
There is a Darcy in it: Since Jane Austen has invented Fitzwilliam Darcy, Mr darcy has seemed to stay in the collective consciousness of women eager for love. Aloof, arrogant even a little bit rude on surface, but soft, sweet and noble in heart. Then Helen Fielding modernised the 19th century nobleman into a 20th century barrister Mark Darcy, giving him different career and different clothes, but essentially the same Prince who will rescue his princess. Rhys Bowen has continued the tradition of Darcy obsession with a twist: she carried him into 21th century, made Darcy the surname into Darcy the first name: a Darcy O’Mara, and made him Irish and roguish, but she kept his devastatingly good looks.
But what I enjoyed most about the book, was the narrator’s incredibly talented voice: her name is Katherine Kellgren. The book was well written by itself, but Ms Kellgren’s voice made it alive, she is like a mini theatre of voices: from queen to grandfather to detective to duke, every character has their distinctive mannerism; and the accents: from Irish, Scottish to American English to French to French spoken badly by upper class English young men, and British English spoken by different classes…..she can mimicry all with such easiness, it is unbelievable, and she is American.
In fact, I found the book Her Royal Spyness because of Ms. Kellgren. I was browsing www.audible.com to choose for next read, and I saw her picture on the home page, and learned of her untimely death. And I decided to buy a book narrated by her.
So you see, an audiobook is becoming as essential as a dark grey cashmere shawl for traveling in winter.
How did you spend your January and how would you define it?