For nine bleary-eyed months, I commuted between Milwaukee and Chicago twice a week. (Pro Tip: 100 miles, plus traffic, plus construction, plus winter, equals don’t try this at home.)
It was miserable, but it was not all bad. The main good thing was spending a lot of those miles with my friend Jan, who picked me up at 5 AM and dropped me off at 11 PM on many a Monday. The other good thing was: audio books.
I listened to every single Harry Potter book, all the Little House on the Prairie books, all the Jane Austen books I like (and Northanger Abbey, which I do not like very much), and every David Sedaris book I could find.
And it was wonderful. I loved hearing these beloved books come to life. There was Pa’s fiddle! There was Nagini the snake’s hiss. There was David Sedaris singing Chevrolet commercials in a voice that really did sound just like Billie Holiday.
What I did not do, in all those months of listening and driving, was listen to a novel I had never read. (I did listen to some David Sedaris I had not read, but I just felt like I was listening to him on NPR.) I tried once or twice, but my need to hear and understand each and every word removed all pleasure from the listening experience.
And then, I met Ender Wiggin. Two friends recommended the audio book
of Orson Scott Card’s classic young adult novel about brilliant children, battle school, and aliens (among other things). I had never read the book, but the dim recollection of my affection for a different Orson Scott Card novel (Seventh Son) and the prospect of a fourteen-hour solo road trip made me take the plunge.
Readers. Friends. Dear people. You must listen to this book. You might think you don’t like science fiction. Or young adult novels. Or audio books. And all of that might be true. Even so: you must listen to this book. It is a wonderful book, wonderfully read.
So get in your car and drive somewhere. You will fall in love.
**You will have to get past some particularly grim scenes in the beginning, and also the general fact that children are being treated like soldiers. It’s hard, but you can do it!