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I love to read, but I’ve been cursed with this lack of ability to read at any reasonable pace.  I’ve tried speed-reading on my own and through a class but without extreme dedication to the program, it’s just not worked.  The fact that it takes so long to read for me (generally in the vicinity of 10-20 pages per hour) makes it much harder to pick up a book in the first place.  After all, if it takes you forever to read a book, you can spend that time a lot more efficiently elsewhere.

Back in college I got addicted to talk radio.  I’m not talking about Howard Stern or Dr. Laura.  Rather I was an NPR junky and even listened to short-wave stations from around the world.  This was when the USSR was first starting to open up a little with Gorbachev’s Glasnost and listening to the state-run propaganda while they were trying to muddle their way to more open discussion of at least domestic matters was fascinating. Anyway, I began to see that one could listen and learn stuff and not have to be tied to one spot (vis-à-vis a walkman), or even have one’s full attention one thing.  After grad school when I got a car and started commuting to work (some of these commutes could be long), I would listen to the radio all the time.  Although I still enjoy NPR, especially in the last few years, much of the news has been rather depressing.  I would rather glance at or when I get to work, then to be drowned in very in depth coverage of a rather depressing issue.  So audio books seem to be the best solution.  You can pick the topic and it can be a serious look at history, a language lesson, a travel narrative, a mystery, or really anything you’re in the mood for.  You’re not at the mercy of others for what you will hear.

Many of you may have read my previous book reviews here, most of which have actually been reviews of books I listened to as opposed to “reading.”  I use a service called  It’s been around now for several years and they have quite a nice selection of books, a lot of them being unabridged and read by the authors or by skilled narrators.  You can buy books ala carte, and even in this way you save a good amount over what you would pay for, say a book on tape or CD in a bookstore.  But the real savings comes when you subscribe to one of their “listener” plans.  I am on one that gives you two books a month for $20.  $10 for a recent best seller in print is a steal, let alone an audio version of it.  They also have tons of magazines, radio shows, and newspapers in their catalog that you can either subscribe to or just buy individual editions.  Many of these are even on a daily basis like the New York Times digest or various public radio shows. 

Because of Audible I’ve probably read 60+ books in the last few years, probably a 10-fold increase in what I was doing before that with standard printed books.  This brings me to the part of the blog-entry that is hardest.  It’s the one where I grovel for financial support.  Actually, not quite that bad, but just a request that if you’ve found my reviews and info about Audible helpful and you happen to then subscribe to them, I would be grateful if when asked you entered my audible id (�leviwallach’) when asked who referred you.  I get a couple of free books when people do this, not cash, and you can in turn recommend them to others and get the same thanks in return.  Grovel, grovel.

posted Thursday, 13 November 2003

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