Monday, July 12, 2010

Public Domain

I like to consider myself an avid reader. If committed to a book, I will read it for hours on end not breaking to  eat or relieve myself (since you only need one hand to hold a fork and the other to hold the book for the former and because books are so mobile and people tend to build entire libraries in their bathrooms for the latter...TMI?). If I am REALLY committed I will not even break for sleep. I have physically held my eyelids open with the index finger and thumb of one hand while holding the paperback with the same two fingers outstretched on the other hand at 4 in the morning to finish the last chapters of 'I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell'. Ok, ok not my crowning literary moment but I had been reading some really depressing stuff up until then that I am afraid I was so starving for poop and fart jokes that I may have devoured that book too quickly.
Because of my current lack of employment and my ferocious appetite for reading material, my brother tends to use me as his guinea pig. My brother is putting himself through college in San Francisco and has been for the past couple of years. During his time in the city he has been employed at a couple of bookstores. The first one was a big corporate bookstore nestled in the heart of a highly populated tourist district where he considered becoming a company man after he finished his degree (a fleeting thought I believe). The second is Books Inc, the 'West's Oldest Independent Bookseller', in the hoity toity Marina district. While he has been employed at both these places he has made several book recommendations. He does this because he realizes that I will tear through any book like a linebacker at the 50 yard line and because he doesn't have the time to read for fun himself so he uses me as a reviewer. He has only really recommended one book that I felt was a complete waste of time (sorry 'Life of Pi'), other than that I have enjoyed his recommendations. This summer he sent me a whole list. I had already developed a list of my own and surprisingly some of what I wanted to read duplicated some of his recommendations. With the list whittled down a tad, I would say I now have 20 or so books to get through by the end of this summer.
I made a trip to the library for the first time in 20 years. I even had to get a brand new library card because there was no record of my last one. Apparently technology wasn't what it is now 20 years ago. I couldn't find half the stuff I was looking for (stupid high school-college summer reading lists, you know those teenagers are just going to use the books as coasters and pick up the Cliff Notes  instead...grrrr...). I was able to find three that were on my list. 'The Godfather' by Mario Puzo, 'I Capture the Castle' by Dodie Smith and 'The Eighth Day' by Thornton Wilder.
A couple of nights ago, when I was fighting insomnia for the third time in a week, I was trying to figure out how I was going to get through the list when an internal light came on....
Audio books!!
Alas, because of aforementioned lack of employment and the expense of audio books, I had to be even more creative....
Public domain audio books!!!
Why hadn't I thought of this before?!?
Let me tell you, this might be one of those times where 'greatest thing since sliced bread' is said and isn't met with an eye roll.
After a quick search I came up with two fantastic sites. LibriVox and Books Should Be Free.
Last night I downloaded 'This Side of Paradise' (Fitzgerald), 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' (Twain) and 'The Picture of Dorian Grey' (Wilde) onto my hand me down Ipod.
I took my Ipod to bed with me and the first chapter of 'The Picture of Dorian Grey' was able to relax my mind and drown out my husband's snoring, the dog's snoring and the whole house fan so that I could get to sleep faster.
Like I said, 'greatest thing since sliced bread'!

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