Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Is Listening the same as Reading?

Nathan Bransford is a literary agent for Curtis Brown who writes a very informative blog about the publishing world. Since that is a world I hope to one day break into, I tend to read his blog. Yesturday, Nathan posted a question that caused me to think. He asked, does listening to an audio book count as reading a book. The vote count came in almost dead even on the yes/no votes. I voted “yes” but as a verasious listener, my thoughts about audio books are more complex than most readers.

I currently listen to about twice as many books as I read. When a book comes out that I really want to read, I usually buy it in the paper form. But when I visit the library I don’t even look at the paper books and instead focus solely on the audio section. The popular best sellers are almost always checked out, so most of the books that I listen to fall into the classic literature sector. Listening to Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, and William Faukner is a slightly different experience than reading David Sedaras and J.K. Rowling. But both are enjoyable. I consider the books I’ve read and the books I’ve listened to the exact same way. If someone asks me if I’ve read any good books lately, I’m not going to disregard the books I’ve listened to when making a recomendation.

I think that my current ability to read has a lot to do with why I now think of listening the same way I think about reading. When I couldn’t read, and listening was the only literary outlet available to me, I knew that I was different. As a teenager, I would have described myself as “well read”. Most of my friends off in AP and Honors English would come to me for reading recomendations, and I think they probably would have admitted that I’d read more books than they had. But as I sludged through remedal English with the aid of my audio books, I knew I wasn’t actually reading. At that I’m I would have been more likely to say I hadn’t “read” any books, before addmitting that I didn’t know how to read.

The physical experience of listening to literature on fast forward while playing video games is very different from that of currling up on the couch with a well loved paperback. The information still enters your pscyche, it still penitrates the sole, but it gets there by a different path. My college roommate definately didn’t think I was reading. ‘Cause tetris wasn’t a part of her homework assignment.

I still remember listening to great books like “The Long Walk to Freedom”, “A Prayer For Owen Meeny” and “The Chosen” as a teenager. Those books became a part of me and filled me with hopes and desires. More than ten years later, I could still tell you not only the major plot points, but also the way I felt while I became a part of those stories. So did I read them? Or did I not know how to read?

What do you think? Does listening to an audio book count as reading? Or do illiterate idiots like me have to admit the truth and only say, “I heard a great book the other day, you might want to listen to it.”

Friday, June 19, 2009

Over Stimulation

Learning dysabilities always seem to come in clusters. There has never been any doubt in anyones mind regarding my status as a dyslexic. A little ADD thrown into the mix never seemed like a very big deal to me. I mean when I can't read, not being able to sit still either feels like a non-issue. I tend to be a very lazy person. I throwly enjoy laying around on the couch all day long, so while I might be ADD, I have a hard time believing I'm ADHD. Still I get distracted very easily.

It isn't so much that I get distracted as that I get over stimulated. I'm good at multi-tasking, and I'm even better at becoming obsessed with one thing and focussing on it for days, weeks, or even months without taking a break. I do, however, have a very hard time tuning out unneeded stimulations. If I'm in a restarant or bar that has a TV hanging on the back wall, I have no choice but to watch it. In overenthusiastic sports bars with a half a dozen TV's, all tuned to different channels, my eyes constantly dart from side to side as I take in all the stimulation. Not looking at bright flashly lights requires way more effort then I'm willing to exert on anything.

Sound is even more distracting for me than vissual stimulations. I hear everything. I am a constant eaves dropper. The worst is when straingers near me are wondering about something I know. It is very difficult for me to resist the urge to join their conversation and tell them what they want to know. In fact, I do join straingers conversations far more often than polite society dictates acceptable.

I don't only hear words around me. I also have trouble blocking out white noise. Buzzing lights and whirling fans often become overwellming. When I was a kid I used to spend a lot of time playing in my closet. I enjoyed hiding in a small space where there was very little external stimulation. Playing in my closet alloud me to focus more intently on one topic without so many distractions.

I recently went on a lovely country stroll on the outskirts of town. The chirping birds really didn't bother me. Their songs came and went and helped add to the nature experience. But the bees drove me crazy. They were so loud, all that never ending buzzing. It was like florescent lights on staroids. Enjoying a peaceful nature scape left me longing to crawl into a closet and hide.

I don't know if this problem is ADD or a mild form of autism. Either way it doesn't matter. Like I said before, not being able to read seems like more of a real issue than getting annoud by buzzing lights and whirling fans. And thanks to many years of phonix training, I can read. Is there similar training available for teaching people how to block out white noise?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dyslexia Jokes

I'm sick of getting rude comments on this post, so I feel the need to add a quick introduction. I AM DYSLEXIC! If you read anything on this blog beyond the list of jokes associate with this post, you would know that. But a lot of people seem to enjoy searching for dyslexia jokes and then yelling at the people who post them without stopping to ask who those people are. I know dyslexics aren't stupid. I don't think that I'm stupid, and like I said before, I am dyslexic.

But even if most dyslexics are very intelligent, dyslexia jokes can at times be funny. Not all of these jokes are exceptionally funny, but a few of them make me laugh. So I'm sharing them with you. If they make you laugh, that's great. If they make you offended, why are you reading them to begin with?

Okay, that's all I had to say, now for the jokes.

A dyslexic walked into a bra.

What do you get when the you cross a dyslexic, and agnostic, and an insomniac.
Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a dog.

Dyslexics of the world untie.

The National Association of Dyslexics, also known as A.N.D.

The satanic dyslexic sold his sole to Santa.

How many dyslexics does it take to skrew in a lightbulb?
103: 1 to hold the bulb and 102 to read the directions.

Why did the dyslexic cross the road?
To get to Horse Diet

After a trip to the doctor my friends informed me, “It’s bad. I’ve got the big C.”
“Oh no, canser?”
“No, Dyslexia.”

Teacher: “You have horrible grammer.”
Dyslexic: “You’ve never even met her.”

First dyslexic cook: “Can you smell gas?”
Second dyslexic cook: “I can’t even smell my own name.”

A dyslexic entered a spelling bee. She came in SALT.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Reading

I’m not good at reading, but I still love it. There is something about a good story, the way it can draw me in and transport me to a different world. I know a lot of people who are always half way through three or four books at any given time. I really don’t understand how they can do this. It is extreamly difficult for me to not read a book in one sitting. Once I get hooked by a story, I have a very hard time focussing on the events in my real life. In many ways the fictional world feels more real to me than the physical world. I learn to love fictional characters and feel a deep emotional connection to the events in their lives.

Because of this love for literature, I try not to read very much. I know that sounds stupid and backwards, but books have a tendancy to take over my life. I can’t function in the day to day until I escape the hold a story has on me. To make maters worse, I read very slowly, so it takes me quite a while to break out of a story. Typically I try to start reading a book as soon as I wake up on a Saturday morning. I sit on the couch and move very little for the next 18-20 hours and then go to bed late after I’ve finished my sojourn into fiction.

Listening to audio books is slightly more freeing. I can at least move around while living in some fictional world. In some ways that is worse though. When I attempt to interact with my friends and family while plugged into a book, they know I’m not paying attention to anything they say.

My husband has informed me that when I’m writing it’s like me reading times 100. When I fall into a fictional world that exists only in my own mind, it is impossible for me to get out. After a long day of writing, I don’t reach the end of the story. Instead the characters consume me, and I begin seeing every aspect of my own life through the eyes of my imaginary friends.

One thing that writing does to me is squeltch my desire to read. I love the characters in my head and connect with them on a much deeper level than I can to characters invented by other people. I understand that having a strong grasp of literary tradition is not only helpful, but in many ways required for good writing. So I attempt to pull my mind out of my own personal fiction long enough to occationally dabble in the fiction of others.

I have come to accept the fact that I’m not quite normal. So if you are one of those people who enjoys a light read on a summer afternoon, here are a few stories that have consumed me in summers past. Hopefully as you lounge next to the pool this summer you can find yourself caught in a fictional reality.

The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love by Jill Conner Browne: This is a very funny book filled with southern charm. I read it during one of my past summers in North Carolina and found it a great way to emerse myself in southern culture.

How I Paid For College by Marc Acito: Everything that Marc writes is hellarious, but his first novel is particularly entertianing. If you haven’t read this book yet you should. And if you have read this one check out the sequil Attack of the Theater People.

Voyage of the Summer Sun by Robin Cody: If you can’t take a great adventure this summer, reading about somebody else’s adventure can be a fun alternative. This epic tale of canoeing the Columbia River is a great read for northwesterners. I especally like the section about Hanford.