Friday, March 1, 2013


Someone asked me recently what I was reading, and I started to throw out titles: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz; NW BY Zadie Smith; Untouchable by Randall Sullivan; Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe, etc.  Later, I thought about our conversation and I realized: I had lied. I had not actually read the last two volumes, I had listened to them.

Yep, The Leopard is a busy cat, so lugging heavy books around  is sometimes woefully inconvenient. Seeing how many hours a week I spend in transit, it makes pretty good sense, because you can drive or ride a subway or just walk down the street listening to the latest New York Times bestseller.
Now, so I don't sound like a commercial for, here's the catch: it's not the same as actually reading a book by any stretch.

Unfortunately or fortunately, these books are read by trained actors who tend to put their own spin on the words. As of now, when I think of Humbert Humbert from Nabokov's Lolita, I hear Jeremy Iron's
criminally obsessed voice. In The Great Gatsby, Tim Robbins' slightly sarcastic interpretation of events; even Arnold Schwarzenegger's narcissistic book Total Recall is mostly read by the actor Stephen Lang in a gravely macho growl.

Vocal stylization can rob one of the complete experience a book can provide. Certain intonations and emphasis can change a books' intended mood. We hear the book as the actor hears it.

Still, the theatricality of having a book read to you can also be immensely reassuring. It can bring you back to the days when mom & dad read you your favorite board book before beddy-bye.