A couple of weeks ago, I picked up the audio version of Marsha Pessl's 514 page book, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, and planned to enjoy it over the next three or four weeks of my daily commute to the office. I was unfamiliar with the book when I spotted it on the library shelf but it looked more interesting in audio than any of the others around, so I grabbed it and started listening to the first disc on my way home. I knew it would take me a while to complete the book because the audio version is 17 discs long, something around 19 hours of listening, I would guess.
I found out yesterday that the book must have been placed on the shelf by mistake because there is a list of people who have requested that it be held for them. That meant that I was unable to renew the book yesterday for another two weeks, about how much time I needed to finish the last nine discs in the set. I hate people who keep requested books longer than their allotted time, so I couldn't bring myself to just hang onto Special Topics and pay the fine when I finished it up...just didn't seem right.
But I caught a break when I spotted a copy of the actual book on the shelves, so all is not lost. This is a coming-of-age debut novel and the first half of the book is largely spent in character development and the set-up of a mystery revolving around a beautiful, but strange, high school teacher. The second half of the book promises to be a good bit different, I think, from the first half and now I'll know for sure.
But here's the "experiment" part. I've never read a book this way, half in audio and half in physical book form. I doubt that many people, if any, ever have and I'm wondering how the two halves will compare. Will I find that I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more than the second half? If so, should the credit go to the reader (who is excellent) or to the writer who may have lost her way in the second half? Will the overall "feel" of the book remain the same? Will my opinion and rating of the book go up or down as I finish it?
I'm already finding it much more difficult to get into the "rhythm" of the writing than I expected it would be. The reader gives such a flawless, conversational reading of the author's words that I was surprised at the "density" of some of the writing. That rhythm is coming to me slowly, but surely, and my reading is going much better now, I'm relieved to see.
So my reading of Special Topics in Calamity Physics will be 248 "pages" of audio and 266 pages of reading, an almost perfectly even split, not something I'm ever likely to repeat...should be interesting (at least to me).