Even today I can still see my grandmother’s long red fingernails, always perfectly manicured. When she talked she, like me, always used her hands and her fingernails would simply sparkle. Sadly I only inherited the flailing of hands when I’m speaking and not the beautiful nails. I have memories from my late teens of going out for a day of shopping and lunch with my mom and grandmother. My mom was always in charge of driving and along the way my grandmother would give me details of whatever book she was currently reading – her fingernails flying about the car as she spoke.
I was always baffled by the fact that she was reading because at this point in her life my grandmother had developed macular degeneration and was legally blind. After one such trip I questioned my mom about her ability to read with so little sight. “She doesn’t really read, Nancy,” my mom explained. “She listens to the books on tape.”
Fast-forward a few decades to when my grandson was at the “is he going to nap or not?” stage. As any mom knows a three-year-old will fight a nap like he’s guarding the President of the United States and if he accidently falls asleep heads will roll. But, this particular grandson loves to be read to and one day I mentioned to his frustrated mom that maybe he would enjoy listening to books “on tape” while he “rested.” If we could get him to lay still long enough there was a slight possibility that he might actually drift off to sleep. Even if he didn’t, a quieter three-year-old would give his mom a bit of a break and that would make for a more pleasant afternoon. Of course, at this point in history most cassette tapes are laying in landfills but my daughter-in-law was able to find some fun books on CD at the library.
The last time I was visiting however my grandson’s rest time book was checked out from the library – on the iPod. Wait one minute. I have an iPhone which is really an iPod plus. Does this mean I too can check books out of the library and listen to them? Why yes it does. And I don’t have to listen to Winnie-the-Pooh either. There are all kinds of books available in an audio format.
THIS IS A GAME CHANGER!
This means that I can “read” at least one more book per month! There are lots of times, especially when driving, where a book would be a welcome diversion from the monotony. (But please start said book before heading down the road. Safety first people!)
Just like when there’s a great sale, a girl’s gotta share, right? When I started sharing how excited I was with this game changing method of reading most of my friends were unaware of the service. Thus the reason I’m telling you about it today.
So, here’s what you need to do if you, too, want to “read” with your ears. Using your iPod, tablet, or smart phone, download the free app called Overdrive. It takes a few minutes to set it up, and you’ll need to know your library card number, but after that you just pretty much have to find a book and download it. Though not every title is available in an audio version you’ll find plenty of variety to choose from.
I decided to spend most of my time focusing on biographies. Biographies, I’ve determined are perfect books for traveling because if you get distracted by say, traffic, you most likely won’t need to go back and replay the part you missed in order to keep up with the rest of the story. Besides, people are fascinating, as are their stories.
The most delightful book I’ve listened to so far is Carol Burnett’s biography, This Time Together. If you don’t know who Carol Burnett is please just humor me and pretend you do. I already feel old enough. I believe the audio version of this book is even better than the print because Carol actually reads the book to you and when she reads about her famous Tarzan yell, she does it. It’s a funny, touching and enjoyable “read.”
There are still some books that simply need to be read in a print version as I just learned while “reading” Andy Andrew’s book, The Noticer Returns. His books always have several great points and I found myself thinking, “Oh, I want to underline that part,” which simply can’t be done.
Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be sitting in the back seat with my granddaughter, hands flying around while I tell her about my latest “read.” By then I might even have beautiful red nails.