I first tried listening to The Night Circus on the long flight back from my Grandma’s funeral.
It was kind of a terrible idea.
Let me clarify: My book choice wasn’t terrible. In fact, this award winner was culled from a friend-sourced list of suggestions, and I had been looking forward to it. My fiction consumption has been rather pathetic in recent years, and I was eager to get a reboot. The six-hour cross-country flight from California to New York seemed like the perfect opportunity to sink into another world. I wanted to slip away from the sadness and overwhelming solemnity of church services and eulogies, and burrow into an alternate reality.
But five minutes into listening, I feared I was going to break the 30-second rewind button on the Audible app. My mind couldn’t follow an entire sentence to its end, despite the gorgeous tones of the consummate narrator, Jim Dale. The vivid magic realism that author Erin Morgenstern conjured couldn’t crack my hard shell of grief or battle the low-level hum of the 747 ferrying me home. The surroundings felt wrong and my emotional core was playing defense, unable to absorb anything else, even an entertaining piece of fiction. I switched off the audiobook and flew in silence.
Perhaps that wasn’t the most auspicious start to my self-prescribed audiobook education. I wanted to jump into this world for a few reasons: I was a podcast fanatic yearning for something longer and more detailed, and I thought audiobooks would be a sneaky way to tick off my epic “to read” list on the days I couldn’t possibly read another word. But revamping my literary lifestyle when my brain was already exhausted was like asking a newbie runner to tackle the Boston Marathon. Fewer barriers to entry, that’s what I needed...
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