Monday, September 7, 2015

Books = Joy. Or, at least, sanity.

Throughout my life, writing has saved my sanity-- and quite possibly my life. In times of extreme stress, hardship, physical and mental anguish, or when it just flat seemed like nothing would ever go right again, I always knew my keyboard and notebooks would be waiting. I could pour my heart out into a journal or a Word document and at least get some of the poison out.

Writing, of course, was also a way to escape reality. I could invent demons that could actually be slayed, battles that could actually be won, entire worlds where things happen the way I want them to.

If you’re a writer, I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. I’m happy to say that, for the most part, my life is not one that requires a lot of venting or escapism these days. Which is okay, because that leaves writing as a time of simple, unbridled happiness.

But if you’re a writer, then your first love was probably the same as mine-- reading. Books. The places and characters we can visit time and again. (I know I do.) Mid-World, Hogwarts, Watership Down-- too many places to name, too many friends to count. All escapist destinations of the first order.

I mentioned in a previous blog post I’ve gone back to a traditional job, and I like it. But I don’t like the commute. I hate driving—always have, always will. And while I know some people commute much farther than I do, (my commute is only 40-60 minutes long depending on traffic), it’s longer than I’ve ever driven before, and it was causing me a great deal of anxiety. I would arrive either at the office or back at home every day, sweaty, shaky, teary-eyed, on the verge of a full-blown panic attack.

A friend very sensibly pointed out that I should listen to books on tape. So I got an Audible account.

You guys. It. Is. Awesome.

Browsing the Audible site, I was immediately beguiled. Reese Witherspoon reading Go Set a Watchman? Colin Firth reading The End of the Affair? Alan Cumming reading Hamlet? Yes, please.

It’s funny, I never thought I would enjoy listening to audio books. I like to read, I like the action of reading. Listening to books is a very different experience. It's engaging different parts of my brain. I feel like it’s making me a better listener, and I'm giving books I would not have otherwise read more of a chance.

My first book is Neil Gaiman’s new collection of short stories, Trigger Warning, read in the man himself’s silky tones. Where I used to dread getting into my car, now I look forward to it.

So I don't know why I'm so surprised that once again, literature has enriched my life in such a big way. I guess it's just nice to find that something you've loved for so long can still surprise you.


  1. Great post, Lauren. I know many people in Southern California who listen to audiobooks on their long commutes to work. An audio book I especially like is Frank McCourt reading his masterpiece Angela's Ashes. You can hear his great Irish accent talking about his childhood with such innocence, forgiveness, and humor.

    1. Oooh, Angela's Ashes is one of my favorite books of all times. Great recommendation. Yes, I don't envy folks in places like that who have such long, long drives, but audio books definitely make it bearable!

      Thanks, as always, for reading and for the kind words. :)