Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing, Baby

Tracy is a purist. When it comes to fizzy beverages, it’s Coke: straight up, fully sugared, with the right amount of ice–preferably pebbled–or NOTHING. I’m a bit more flexible. Sure, all things considered and in the perfect circumstances, I prefer a Coke Zero with pebbled ice, but if the situation calls for it, I’ll happily substitute a Diet Coke, less happily a Diet Dr. Pepper, and rather begrudgingly, a Diet Pepsi—especially if I can mix in some regular Pepsi. I mean I love my Coke Zero, like addiction-level love, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Popcorn and Duds demand fizz, and if Diet Pepsi is the only offering, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Not Tracy. I’ve personally witnessed her swallow down her popcorn and Jujyfruits with...gasp…water. I can’t even imagine.

So it comes as no surprise that Tray turns her nose up at audiobooks. In her mind, audiobooks are a woeful imitation, the ugly stepsister masquerading as the lovely Cinderella. While she’s never actually tried one, she pitches her tent squarely in the camp of Joe Queenan, author of One for the Books, who declared: “I do not listen to audiobooks for the same reason I do not listen to baked ziti: it lacks the personal touch.”

Hold on there, Joe, I beg to differ. I’ll admit my tent was once smack dab in the middle of your camp, right next to my “no e-readers for me” tent (that one’s still standing, but that is another story for another day). Once I actually tried listening to a book, I found it to be quite the opposite: listening to books often adds a personal touch. Especially if it's Adriana Trigiani bringing Ave Maria to life in Big Stone Gap or the voices of Minny and Aibileen in The Help. William Kent Krueger, author of Ordinary Grace, reminds us that "stories come out of the oral tradition." The art of storytelling has been around far longer than books on the page. For me, there are some books where listening heightens the experience: The Help, The Invention of Wings, All the Light We Cannot See, and pretty much any book by Ivan Doig, to name a few. Now that's not to say I don't go out and buy the actual book as well. I do that way more than I'll ever admit to if my husband is doing the asking. Books like All the Light We Cannot See, Rules of Civility, and The Bartender's Tale have sentences so divine they demand to be savored. So I buy them, reread them, and mark passages to return to again and again. And admittedly, there are books that something is lost when you listen to them, like The Book Thief.

All this to say that while I know I'll never win Tracy over, if you love a good listen, I'll let you know when I've listened to a book and whether or not I recommend it (just check the listening section on our bookshelf). So happy listening or reading...or both!

Posted by Rachel