My friend the automated-library-lady called the other day to say I had three requested items available for pickup – an unheard of delight, even for someone with a never-ending list of requested items. (Number 95 in line for 5 copies? No problem!) Off I went to retrieve my prized paper friends, only to find that one of them was an audiobook. Hmmm. Do I want an audiobook?
One of the great pleasures of reading is setting the scene. Cozying up with a slightly rumpled paperback. Window seat. Afternoon sun. Mug of tea. Or even more idyllic, let Alexander Maksik and You Deserve Nothing take you along for this early morning read in Paris:
I crossed the bridge and stopped to watch the sunrise over the dull industrial buildings to the east. I walked up Boulevard Henri IV until I came to the Place de la Bastille and took a table at the Café Francais. Waiters were still arranging chairs when I sat down. The wind was very cold. I ordered a crème and a croissant. The waiter didn’t speak. The coffee and milk came in separate pitchers, both scalding hot, and the croissant was still warm. I hadn’t eaten since lunch the day before. I ate very fast and then, remembering Silver, poured the coffee and milk very slowly.
The first thing I thought after my hunger had subsided and the coffee began to brighten me was that he’d approve. He’d like that I was sitting there alone, so early in the morning, paying such careful attention to simple, beautiful things. Paris morning, coffee, milk, pitcher.
Ah, Paris. I’m pretty sure my new 9-disc box set and my laptop would ruin that moment.
What do you do with your eyes when you’re listening to a book? Look at the screen? Stare into space? Can you get lost in a book the same way Maksik’s young Gilad does?
I read the way you read when you’re young. I believed that everything had been written for me, that what I saw, felt, learned, was discovery all my own. I read for hours without rest.
When I looked up, it was nearing eleven. I ordered an omelette and another coffee. The café had begun to fill. I was surprised to find people around me, reading newspapers, chatting. I was part of that place, part of that moment, one Saturday morning.
My long-awaited book is apparently a gripping thriller, a real page-turner. So what happens if I want to listen faster? At least I won’t be able to cheat and flip ahead a few pages to see what happens.
I don’t know why I’m resisting so much. Having someone read to me could end up being my new favourite thing.
Ok, here I go. Pressing play.