The Planned Parenthood Book Sale, The Wrong Box, & Audiobooks

Volunteers getting ready for the Planned Parenthood Book Sale

We went to the Planned Parenthood Book Sale,  which is held  biannually at the 4-H Building (45,000 sq. ft)  on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

It is a family tradition.  My grandmother used to attend the sale.  She filled her shelves with 19th-century editions of Thackeray, Dickens, and George Meredith. I was awed: why, oh why didn’t I live in Des Moines?

And now it’s our turn to support Planned Parenthood.

Tonight we staggered home with a box of splendid books, among them Edna O’Brien’s The Little Red Chairs,  the Native American writer Linda Hogan’s neglected novel Solar Storm, books by Ted Mooney, Marge Piercy, Nina Berberova, Stephen Dixon, and Amy Tan, and a dictionary.

But I had another reason to attend: I wanted to buy my own books back.

This spring, my husband donated the wrong box to the sale. This kind of muddle regularly happens in our distracted household.   Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I discovered the mix-up.  Gone were some of my favorite books:  Library of America editions of Louisa May Alcott and  Laura Ingalls Wilder, a Penguin Galaxy hardback copy of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, 1992 Modern Library hardcovers of Dostoevsky, and God knows what else.

I lamented.  But you know what I say:  Get over it!

The Oxford (left) and  Modern Library (right) edition of “Crime and Punishment”

I  found one of my books at the sale:  the 1990s Modern Library hardcover copy of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, translated by Constance Garnett.  And it is a relief to have it back, because Nicholas Paternak Slater’s translation reads like English in translation (the Oxford hardcover is gorgeous, though).

Well, it’s all for a good cause!  I’ll just have to make do or buy the books all over again.

WHO HAS TIME TO READ AUDIOBOOKS?

Anne Bogel’s podcast What Should I Read Next? is very enjoyable, because she is  well-read in many genres, comfortable interviewing people, and has a kind of alternative radio vibe.   In Episode 173,  “Clocking in at the reading factory,” she interviews Natalie Van Waning, a blogger who  has decided to read long books this year.

Whether you love or hate long books, you’ll enjoy the discussion.  What constitutes a long book  anyway?   (My husband says 500 pages, I say 600.)  And what’s on Natalie’s TBR? John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of her selections.

And then they digressed a bit about audiobooks.  Does listening to an audiobook count as reading?  Yes, they say.  And I’m sure it does  but I admit I have never listened to an entire audiobook.

Years ago, I tried listening to one of Paul Theroux’s travel books while I did the dishes.  But it was so absorbing that I simply bought the book and finished it!

And I tried to listen to one of Elizabeth George’s mysteries while I walked, but the noise of traffic drowned it out.

Do I need better headphones?  Perhaps it’s as simple as that.  I don’t even have an iPod.

What equipment do I need?  Please advise.