Page-Turning Panic Attack
Now that every woman in America - and a few self-confident men - have been conscripted into book clubs, I'm going to assume that some of you must have experienced Page-Turning Panic Attacks. They strike when your meeting is just hours away and you haven’t finished the book. Or started it. Or even bought it.
You know that if you try to fake it in front of your brainy friends - the ones who've not only read every word of this month’s novel but have dog-eared pages and highlighted passages - you’ll be outed.
And you can’t insult them by trying to find some deep meaning in an event that takes place in the first chapter. It’s the oldest trick in the book. So to speak.
I never experience Page-Turning Panic Attacks anymore. In fact, my club meets tonight and I’m cool.
That's because I have no more than a mile left.
Rather, I have precisely 31 minutes and 1 second remaining in the audiobook version of “Home Fire: A Novel,” by Kamila Shamsie. If I walk a mile and there isn’t a strong wind blowing out of the north, I should finish it in plenty of time.
Yep, I’m a book club member who never picks up a book anymore. I just throw on my tennis shoes, stick in my earbuds, and head out the door.
Another member of my club - which began in 1990, more than 300 books ago - also listens to audiobooks. But we’re regarded with wariness by the more traditional members who prefer to remain stationary when reading.
“Can you really say you read the book, when you only listened to it?” sniffed one member, a few months ago.
Yes, as a matter of fact, I can.
“How do you go back and reread sections you liked? “ asked another.
Don’t need to. I’m an auditory learner and I remember more when someone reads a book to me than when I squint at the pages and read to myself.
“You won’t have copies of your books on your shelves,” the first member pointed out.
Excellent. I’m decluttering.
What these well-read book clubbers don’t understand is that listening to books is luxurious. Press a button and a narrator with a smooth voice will read to you. Oh, and scientists say there’s no real difference between reading a book and listening to one. At least that’s the conclusion of UVA psychologist Daniel Willingham who seems to be quoted in every single magazine article that debates the question.
Willingham's a 'Hoo. Good enough for me.
Listening to books has the added benefit of freeing up your eyes. You can drive a car, watch the ocean or peek in your neighbor’s windows while soaking up a story.
Best of all, listening while walking exercises both mind and body. Shoot, I nearly wore out my shoes while compulsively listening to “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles last winter. That one’s 17 hours and 52 minutes long.
I don’t like to brag, but I earned my first FitBit Hiking Boots award while listening to Towles' engrossing novel: 35,000 steps in one day. Had blisters the size of biscuits on my feet to prove it, too.
The host of tonight’s meeting sent out an email reminder to our group on Monday. I noticed with delight that the very member who’s been most critical of the audiobook contingent, replied enthusiastically:
“I will be there! Finishing up audio!”