Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reading aloud

Lynn and I started reading to each other years ago.  My main reason, besides the fun of narrating, which is big, was that the jokes and fun of the novels of Peter DeVries were simultaneously available to both of us when we listened to the text aloud.  Usually, I am able to read something funny without too much interfering laughter.  Some of the DeVries lines and plot events did make me spurt out in a laughter, which I don't like to do since it can create something of an obligation to find the joke funny in the listener.  I did have trouble with "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" by Bryson.

Narrations such as Boris Karloff reading the Just So stories by Kipling, Lissette Lecat reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective Stories, Ian Mackenzie reading the Love Over Scotland series are magical.  It is true that the Kindle can read text out loud (if that ability has not been turned off by the publisher - who should listen a few times and then heave a snicker at the non-contest between a professional narrator and a flat computer voice).  Similarly, Microsoft Word can also read aloud but with similarly low-level results.  

One of the main reasons that print is king is that all sorts of books can be located in print but far fewer have been narrated.  One little book, Kindle or paper or Nook, is all that is needed for a great hour.  When one of a couple gets tired of reading or of driving, the other can take over.  The story unwinds off the page and twines around the listeners, linking them in a new way.  With glances into each other's eyes, they can validate their appreciation or disgust with the story and the language.

We just finished The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta, maybe his best so far but could be better.  The premise is promising: how would we feel when we find people disappear randomly here and there, all at the same time.  Was it the Rapture?  Why were we left behind when we have lived so uprightly?  Why were X and Y taken when we know the one was a bad sinner and the other not even a believer?  

There are tons of book clubs and they are quite valuable, I know.  However, I haven't heard of any where the book is read aloud by a human who is present.  There could be one narrator through the whole book or the group could take turns.  Our ears get too little attention but research shows they lead right into our brains.  Listening to a good friend read can be valuable at all ages.  Reading aloud keeps the eyes, voice and brain lively, too.

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