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Crabby Old Lady is Schooled in How Not to Act Old

A TGB READER STORY: Sleeping With The Enemy

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By Fritzy Dean

His voice is by turns harsh, commanding, demanding - then smooth, silky, seductive. I am held motionless, captivated, not wanting to miss a word or even a syllable. He voice is close, intimate - next to my ear.

I gently adjust the pillow, not wanting to disturb him or the story he is telling. Oh, good, he didn’t notice my small movement. He continues as I relax more and more into what I have come to think of as “our” bed.

It has taken me some time to get comfortable having this voice, and I admit it, other voices in bed with me. As a book lover, I read myself to sleep for as long as I can remember. Then with age came one of what Shakespeare called “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” I developed macular degeneration and can no longer read in bed. I can barely read at all.

I resisted getting an e-reader for a long time. As a senior citizen, I was slow to embrace technology. I felt fearful and inadequate, but missed reading SO much, I gave in and got a Kindle. While it is not the same as reading an actual book, it keeps me from feeling so deprived of my first and strongest love - reading.

With the Kindle mastered (sort of), I was finally brave enough to get an audio book reader and subscribe to Audible. A tech savvy friend set it up for me.

So now, here I am - in bed with my electronic device and my latest book.

This particular book is being read by an actor, a good one, too. He is able to sound like the different characters do, changing his voice appropriately. He is able to project the changing moods of the plot. He is a superb teller of tales.

Unfortunately, not all of the readers are. Especially disappointing is to learn that some of my favorite writers are AWFUL readers. The first book I downloaded read by the author almost turned me against him. His “writing” voice (the one I heard in my head, was deep and melodious. The voice coming from the device was high pitched and nasal, like a hillbilly with a bad cold.

Oh, PLEASE hire an actor next time!

Of course, some authors ARE good readers and what a treat that is. I remember, in particular, Barbara Kingsolver reading Unsheltered. She knew EXACTLY where to put emphasis, where to pause, where to glide along. She wrote it, after all, and she was a wonderful guide for the listener.

There have been other such lovely surprises. Pride and Prejudice read by NO, NOT Jane Austen, but by a full cast of actors. I smiled the whole way through. Such a lovely bedtime story.

I called this little essay, Sleeping With The Enemy because of my fear of, and reluctance to embrace technology. However, recently I began to encounter a word that must have been coined by the millennials – frenemy.

From the way it is used I assume it means someone or something you love in spite of yourself. Something you would love to hate, but just can’t - so perhaps I should rename this, because I certainly intend to continue sleeping with the frenemy.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]


Loved it!

Thanks for a morning smile!

Enjoyed and empathized with you and your frenemy. Books and likable sounds go well in bed.

This is my heartfelt thank you and gratitude, Fritzy, for sharing such a personal story. 

You have given me needed empathetic understanding of my own experiences as I have scratched about for over several months of rapidly diminishing eyesight .

More importantly to me is the element of hope and possible solutions.  THANK YOU !!  again. Charlene 

I like your classification of technology as "frenemy" - I agree!

As a retired librarian, I can't help mentioning that George Guidall and Barbara Rosenblat are considered to be the best of the best audiobook narrators. Guidall has won "Audie" awards. That may be useful in selecting audiobooks.

I, too, love audiobooks. I love to be read to, and as you say, the reader is often the author, e.g., Toni Morrison.

Instead of buying audiobooks, I get them from my public library.

I downloaded a Kindle app - free -- on both my laptop and smart phone (available for either Android or iPhone, PC or Apple). Via this Kindle app, I read audiobooks that I check out from my public library. I don't have to pay for them or for a Kindle reader, and the library just sucks them back when they're due -- in my case, 21 days. If I don't finish a book, I can renew it and Kindle or whatever remembers exactly where I left off. If there are others waiting for the same book, I just put it on hold and read something else until it becomes available.

I find this a handy way to simultaneously read AND do things that don't require much thinking, such as housework. When I read in bed, the app has a timer that I can set so the reading doesn't continue while I'm sleeping.

So, ask your local library if they subscribe to this audiobook service. It took me awhile and plenty of help from the librarians to understand how to use this. But for me it's really been worth the learning curve and it's free.

Well written, lovely story, Fritzy!

Brought a smile on this drizzly cold day. :-)

Wonderful story. Move over!

My state has a wonderful setup for those of us with low vision or other handicaps to reading print books. I get a terrific machine and an insert with 10 books. I just love the readers.

Lovely post. Sorry about your illness; you are really to be commended for approaching it in such a constructive fashion!

As a many year veteran of audiobooks, I agree that the narrator can make all the difference. Audible is good about letting you return books, though, which you can do if you don’t like the narrator. Sometimes, if I particularly like a narrator, I will search for books by narrator, rather than author or title. I have discovered some interesting books that way. In fact, there is actually an award for audiobook narrators, called the Audie.

Also, I would like to recommend, especially for “reading yourself to sleep,” PG Wodehouse. There are a few narrators of his books, ranging from really good to outstanding; I actually prefer them in audiobook format!

The library version of audiobooks is called Overdrive. Free, but not as user friendly as Audible, and the selection is more limited, but it’s worth checking out.

Also, Library of Congress has a free talking book service for the blind. I don’t know how it works now, but back in the 80’s, someone I know used it; the books were read by volunteers. I think you have to be legally blind to qualify.

Speaking of volunteers, there is also LibriVox, where you can listen to books in the public domain. read by volunteers. You can get a lot of books not available commercially in audio format, although the quality is uneven. It’s free also.

Good luck with your adventures in audiobooks, and the “frenemy,” texhnology!

While my (deteriorating) vision is certainly a consideration, the problem that actually sent me to Kindle was arthritis in my hands and wrists. I began to notice that I was choosing books by how many pages they had, leaning toward skinny books, because my hands ached so from holding heavier books. I have had a Kindle now for many years, and I still consider it a less pleasurable experience than reading a book, but I'm so grateful that I can download a big old John Steinbeck book and now suffer the consequences. I love that you call it your frenemy, and I'm adopting it!

To each of you who took the time to comment Thank You! A specail thanks to Kathe for advice about superb narrators; also to Cat for information about audible books at my Library. And a special thank you to Kay who gave me many tips, including a great one about
P.G. Wodehouse. I am grateful to each of you.

You have found a winner in discovering the Kindle. Loved the story. Was relieved to find out at the beginning it was not about a being that snored, barked or meowed. Keep reading! Keep writing! I thank you.

I love this story, Fritzy! I can visualize all the characters in bed with you. And all the comments people have made here with tips of what to get and where have me thinking about getting equipment and checking out libraries myself. Frenemy is a perfect word for having to accept the help from an unwanted source. I predict it will have a place in my vocabulary now.

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