This semester I’m teaching four days a week, which has added 6 hours of commuting time to my life — not awful by any stretch, but more than I’ve been used to in a while. (And a huge adventure by the standards of my home town, where trips “off island” have always been considered as going beyond the pale — despite being connected to the mainland via three bridges!)

That’s why I’m surprised and delighted that as a result of having gotten the iPhone (yes, I’m still in new shiny tech object lurve), I’ve also discovered the joys of audio books. Another place where I’m probably rather late to the party, but better late than never. Anyway, the Audible app has proved to be quite a boon to my driving hours and I’m in the thick of Alice I Have Been, by Melanie Benjamin.

The thing is, I’ve been a voracious, obsessive even, reader since I was four, when I looked up at my father, with whom I was “reading” the paper, and asked, “Daddy, what’s ‘Chinese communism’?” I was for years the youngest person ever to have her own card at our town’s library (I may still hold the record — I haven’t checked), I tackled Uncle Tom’s Cabin at 9, and have had stacks of books five or eight deep next to my bed for as long as I can remember. These are serious bona fides for any reader, I hope you’ll agree.

But it’s always been about the book as object for me, as well as the texts themselves. Despite my early adopter tendencies in other types of techonologies, I never rushed to buy a Kindle. Years in the inky trenches of publishing haven’t diminished my passion for the written word, on paper, between covers. (And I love the smell of library books — I’ve even been toying with the idea of getting this fragrance, just to see if it’s really possible to bottle it.)

So while I don’t think the pile of books I trip over every morning is going to in any way diminish, I have the feeling that their virtual brothers and sisters are rapidly going to be assembling themselves into ranks, ready to ride with me to Providence and beyond. Great company, indeed.

(P.S. If you are a book lover — and most especially if you’re a recovering English major like so many of my friends — trundle off to the library and borrow the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. Full of puns and in-jokes, as well as a good deal of who-dunit intrigue, they are a real delight.)

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