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Listen! Don't Read!

Update: Some good news. My story, Rat Baiting, won first place in the Arizona Mystery Writers short story contest. And---- my story, A Shadow The Length Of A Lifetime, was accepted and published in the Bacopa Literary Review magazine.

Now back to pessimism and sarcasm:

Irreverent, you say. A writer who tells you not to read? Blasphemy! What is the number one answer that all successful authors give when asked for the best advice to eager, fledgling writers?  The answer? Read. Read a lot. Read a lot of everything. Read everything.

Quite true. They know what they’re talking about or they wouldn’t have the modifier: Best Selling Author in front of their name now would they? These great authors were the nerds in school who always had a book in front of their noses during lunch and recess. Everybody picked on them but they’re getting their revenge with every best-selling novel they pump out. So if your child says he or she is being picked on in school, assure them they will have the last laugh and they better buy you a beach condo when they hit the big time or you’ll take away their books.

So what’s up with JJ saying to stop that confounded reading? (By the way, I was a nerd also but only read comic books. I blame my parents.) Why diss reading when real authors who make real money are telling everyone to read? My curt answer is that as an alternative to reading a book you should be listening to them instead.  

Why? Several reasons:

1)      To save your eyes. Have you ever read four chapters and then looked up at the highway stretching in front of you and all the white lines are blurry? It’s tough enough to read while you’re driving, don’t screw up your vision too.  Ah yes, reading while driving. I call it old school texting. Hell, I did most of my college homework on the drive to the campus. Number 42 of my list of reasons why I should be dead by now.

2)      You retain the material better if you listen to a book. Remember all those Little Golden Books your mother read to you from the time you were crapping your diapers? Of course you do. The same goes for audiobooks. It’s a scientific fact that it’s a shorter path to your brain from your ears than it is from your eyes. Einstein proved it.

3)      Subliminally, listening to a book teaches you the proper way to write, including narrative, dialogue, syntax, grammar and attributions. If you listen to a Leonard Elmore novel and hear she said or he said a million times, it gets beat into your psyche and flows into your own writing automatically.

4)      It’s easier to listen to a book than it is to read one. If you have a long commute you can go through a six CD novel in a few days. You are forced to listen, whereas with a book you might put it down and forget about it for a month. I have a commute of eighty miles a day so I go through about seventy audiobooks a year including the snoozers that have twenty or thirty disks in them. The only drawback is sometimes you arrive at your destination right at a climax in the novel and you have to wait until your next drive to hear the conclusion. Also, don’t listen to that exciting end in your garage with the engine on either, or you will have a surprise ending.

The only other drawback with audiobooks is when they use a famous actor to read them. The actor or actress forgets he or she is reading for the audience and tends to overact to show how talented they are. The worst are Anne Heche and Joe Mantegna.

I still read a couple of books a year. Not all the classics are on tape so I have no choice. The new sucks because you have to download the book to your computer and then on to your IPod and then you have to hook the IPod to your car if it happens to have a USB port and then after all that, the audio is iffy, sometimes too loud or too soft. Stick with books on CD if available and boycott those stupid I.T. people that want you to download everything and kill off every bookstore left in the world. Damn nerds.

And stop reading! You’ll go blind.


  1. Congratulations, John! and thanks for the links. Enjoyed them both, the second one especially enticing.

  2. thanks Nilanjana. Enticing is the best review so far.

  3. Love your bio. The advice is good too but I insist on reading despite ever increasing power of my spectacles.So there...Not everyone will listen to you. :)

  4. Thank you, Madhu. I appreciate any comment and especially funny ones. My friend, Xama Joshi, a fellow engineer where I work, makes fun of my writing and constantly shows me pictures of her children when we eat at Indian Restaurants in Orlando. I will show her yours and Nilanjana's favorable comments and embarrass her into silence. :) Thanks again.


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