Social Security says I can retire when I'm 66, but it's likely to be long after that. I've got too many books on CD left in the library to listen to on my way to and from work.

Social Security says I can retire when I'm 66, but it's likely to be long after that. I've got too many books on CD left in the library to listen to on my way to and from work.

Lately, I've been reading while I'm driving. Oh, I'm not turning pages. I'm sure there are laws that demand hands-free novel reading while operating an automobile. And common sense says it's a lot easier to drive down a road if you're sort of looking at it.

No, I'm "reading" with my ears. I'm hearing a novel. I'm listening in a literary manner. I'm five CDs into a 10-CD David Baldacci best-seller.

Getting started

I know, "books on CD" are nothing new. If you count "books on cassette," I'm about two decades behind the whole audiobooks trend. That's the normal period of delay for new and exciting things in my life.

If World War III ever breaks out, stick close to me; I won't hear about it for at least five years.

But recently one of my friends told me about how he listens to books as he's driving to work. I thought, “I drive to work.” I've driven to work for 34 years. I should be getting more out of it than AM sports talk radio.

I tried listening to nonfiction first. I heard one of those hulking history books for about two weeks. That got old, and I don't mean just because it was history. It was like taking a drive-through college course. I started memorizing names and dates. I was afraid to start the car up some mornings for fear there would be a pop quiz.

Because it shouldn't be stressful until you actually get to work, I switched to fiction. I'd been complaining about never having time to read novels anymore. And I'd been complaining about traffic. This would allow me to combine whines.

A few bugs

Immediately, I noticed a few differences from the way I had to listen to an audio novel and the way I like to read a good book. They don't much like you reclining in your chair in traffic. Lie back and close your eyes — just resting them, not really sleeping — even for a few seconds after a stoplight turns green, and somebody's going to honk at you.

You can't just go to your kitchen to get a cup of coffee or a can of soda, either.

And, in contrast to when I read a book in my living room, bookmarks are useless for remembering the page you last "read."

Of course, I didn't want to stop "reading." It turns out, David Baldacci is a very good writer. Most of last weekend, I did nothing but try to think of places to drive, so I could listen to more of "The Collectors." Sure, I could have listened to the book inside my house, but I've got cable TV in there. That's part of the reason I don't read much anymore.

So, if the only time you see me is when I'm in my car, you'll know why.

They shouldn't let suspense writers put novels on audiobooks. It's unproductive. You get people sitting around in parking lots all the time.

Reach Repository Living Section Editor Gary Brown at gary.brown@cantonrep.com