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Find time for reading with books on CD

During a super busy last few months, my daily allotment of reading time was one of the first things to get cut.

I felt bad after not even cracking open last month's book club pick, and when it started to look like the same thing might happen this month, I knew I had to find some time somewhere.

So I did something I'd never even considered before - I started listening to October's book, Kim Edwards' "The Memory Keeper's Daughter," on CD in my car.

Ever since I was a child, I've been an avid reader, and I've always thought of books on tape as an option for people who don't actually enjoy reading.

For me, a lot of the pleasure of reading comes from the book itself - the scent of the pages, the typeface and the heft of a thick, hardcover novel.

But I finally figured out what the big draw is for audio books - they're easier.

Some nights, I feel too stressed out to even pick up whichever book I'm reading, but by listening to the book on CD, you don't even think about it. When I turn the key in the ignition, the narrator starts back up from wherever I left off last time I was in the car. I just have to sit back, relax and listen.

The hardest part is trying to keep your mind from wandering, thus missing crucial plot twists. But luckily, the "Memory Keeper's Daughter" story is so compelling, I don't have to worry about losing interest.

I was partly inspired to check out audio books thanks to Atlanta Listens, a huge marketing campaign bankrolled by Random House that targets local residents who find themselves stuck in gridlock every day.

The campaign, which is scheduled to run through November, consists of billboards and ads on the sides of buses touting audio books as a way to pass those hours spent trapped behind the wheel. I have a shorter commute than the average Atlantan - I drive about 10 minutes each way to work, opposed to the area's average 31-minute commute - but I still make enough trips downtown to add up to a nice chunk of time each week.

The campaign pushes audio books as an antidote to road rage, and after having listened to books on CD, I can understand why.

I've been known as a bit of a speed demon, but lately I've been slowing down and enjoying the drive while listening to my book. One time, I even found myself hoping a train might stop traffic for a bit so I could catch a few more pages before arriving home.

Plus, the soothing voice of the book reader is much more calming than shrill radio commercials or pounding bass.

If you're interested in listening to - or reading - "Memory Keeper's Daughter," we'd love for you to join us at the next meeting of the Gwinnett Daily Post Book Club. We'll discuss the book at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Gwinnett County Library's Collins Hill Branch.

E-mail Shelley Mann at shelley.mann@gwinnettdailypost.com.