A Hebrew Bible/Old Testament scholar looks at the Bible and culture…

novels

Listening to Stories, in the Past and in the Present

I’m a big fan of audiobooks.  I download titles from our county library to my .mp3 player and listen in the car.  Mostly, I listen to the works of Lee Smith, who sets moving stories in the American South, often tracing the contours of a family through numerous generations.

Listening to the tales aloud is a very different experience than reading the print versions. When I read, I often go too fast, pushing ahead to the gist of the material and unconsciously skipping a lot of it.  With an audiobook, I can’t control the pace of the story.  Unless I choose to fast-forward, I have to listen at the speed the narrator (director?) has chosen.  And I have to listen carefully, since I can’t flip back to re-read about characters. I hear more in the story than when I read silently, especially Smith’s gift at capturing the nuances of different classes and regions within southern culture.

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