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Opinion

Readers React: Audio books are great. Just don’t listen to them while driving

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 2, 2018: The 405 Freeway traffic in the Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles mid
Midday traffic moves slowly on the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles on Aug. 2.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: At a time when distracted driving has become one of the most serious hazards of daily life in Los Angeles, Amy Wilentz’s op-ed article on the pleasures of listening to audio books while driving is ill-advised.

Granted, not all audio books are equally dangerous. Those whose main interest is in ideas development or philosophical pursuits seem to me to demand less attention from the listener.

I’ve immensely enjoyed Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” in addition to audio books of novels that I have already read. Listening to these books provides less of a distraction while driving.

Commuting in our city is an ever-worsening experience, and the temptations for distractions are hard to resist — but compromising safety for the sake of alleviating everyday frustrations can have disastrous consequences.

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Berta Graciano-Buchman, Beverly Hills

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To the editor: As both a reader and audio book user, I loved Wilentz’s homage to audio books.

Some bibliophiles believe that listening to books is “reading lite.” What they may not appreciate is that we audio fans are experiencing every word of the book plus the added pleasure of a performance by an outstanding professional narrator.

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Much like in the old days of radio drama, one’s imagination can still be fully engaged in the listening. I was blown away by the readings of “The Goldfinch” (David Pittu), “A Gentleman in Moscow” (Nicholas Guy Smith) and “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” (Cathleen McCarron). Those narrators managed to bring to life the distinct voices and personalities of characters young and old, male and female, Puerto Rican, Russian, Scottish and more.

Also, how personal and memorable is the experience of hearing an author read their own work? Consider “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean and “Becoming” read to you by Michelle Obama.

Laura Owen, Pacific Palisades

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