While listening to the audio rendition of Dorothy Sayers' Strong Poison in the car, it occurred to me that reading a mystery while driving may not be a very safe thing to do. After all, we armchair sleuths must pay very close attention to the small, and oftentimes seemingly unimportant, clues we are thrown. I am very puffed up and proud of myself that the moment I heard one of these teensy, throw-away clues, I absolutely knew how the fatal dose of arsenic was administered to the hapless victim. However, as I was driving along in rapt attention to the book, I realized I had missed my exit on the Interstate by many miles and ended up in a town I'd never heard of. I can see how books on tape can lead to higher gas consumption.
The only other experience I had with an audio book was listening to The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom. I think I was able to pay closer attention to my driving because I really didn't like the book very much. I thought it tried too hard to deliver its message and ended up being maudlin. Soon after, I saw a hardbound copy of it on my daughter's desk. Thankfully, before I could voice my opinion, she not only told me how much she loved the book, but said it was one of her "favorites." Discretion being the better part of valor, I kept my mouth shut.
This, of course, brings up another dilema. I love to hear what other readers think about the books they encounter; however, how does one criticize a book that is loved by someone else without insulting the other person's taste? Is it rude and bodacious, like pointing out the thickness of dust that has settled on your friend's sidetable, or counting out loud the number of empty wine bottles your next door neighbor carts out to the curb on garbage pick-up day? I recently read a book that was almost universally hailed as a masterwork - compared to Shakespeare even (which was by far the silliest review I have ever read...by someone who writes reviews for a living, no less.) Someone who read my blog e-mailed me to say I was "very brave" to go against the prevailing wind. Brave?? Oh dear. Very brave! Double, oh dear. I always pick up a book with the hope and expectation that I will enjoy it. I hate it when I am disappointed, mostly because I know the author suffered through every word and then had to battle to get it published. It's a tricky thing to criticize someone else's work, isn't it.
Well, I am off to the library to return my audio book and get another...perhaps another Lord Peter Wimsey. I'll make sure I have a full tank of gas and a road atlas with me, just in case.