Hungry For A Simpler Life

I had the pleasure of receiving two audio books from Naxos Audiobooks this week. They sent me Vanity Fair and Swann’s Way, both of which are on my Read This Spring list. But, that’s not the overwhelming part.
The overwhelming part is that I spent an hour downloading them on my PC, then many hours more transferring them to my iPod. Apparently I needed to download iTunes version 9 thousand and whatever, completely reset my iPod which was unbenownst to me synced to my iPhone, then reorganize my ‘library’. Which isn’t a library at all, it’s a list of songs and audiobooks inside a little metal machine.
My husband said, in helpful response to my frustration, “You have too many gadgets.” Upon which I instantly diverted my hostility to him. It wasn’t fair to do. Or, pretty.
Unfortunately, I have to admit he’s right. I have an iPod mini (which I gave to my son) and an iPod Classic. I have a Nook 1st generation, Simple Touch and Simple Touch with Glowlight (which I gave to my mother). I have an iPhone4s and an iPad mini. It’s ridiculous. The amount of gadgets I own practically equals the amount of crimson lipsticks in my drawer. Well, almost.
As I was listening to the first book of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, I revelled in the slow pace. Some people may think it’s a bit like watching paint dry, the slow pace in which his thoughts unfold. We spend the first three tracks listening to him talk about sleeping, or his bedroom, or his mother’s kiss. Yet read this one simple sentence: “For many years have now elapsed since the Combray days, when, coming in from the longest and latest walks, I would still be in time to see the reflection of the sunset glowing in the panes of my bedroom window.”
It creates the most lovely imagery for me! I can see the dusk, when everything turns that soft shade of blue (l’heure bleu as Guerlain calls its fragrance named for that moment). I can see the glow shining in the panes of his bedroom window. I can feel the coolness of my cheeks which occurs after an evening walk, and I’m melancholy for the simplicity of walks. Bedrooms lit with a single lamp. Voices down below while I lay in the nest of my bed.
I’m hungry for a simpler life, one with real books and more solitude. For as Proust wrote, “Reading is that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude.” It’s one of the greatest joys of my life. 

16 thoughts on “Hungry For A Simpler Life”

  1. I think we all have too many gadgets. I limit myself to iPad and cell phone (plus computer of course) and that's still too much sometimes.

    Hoping you find simplicity…


  2. Very lovely and thoughtful post! Proust's quote about reading is beautiful. Reading does make us slow down–which is definitely a wonderful thing. Too many gadgets = too much stress. I've decided to TAKE MY TIME, as much as possible.


  3. One of the nice things about listening to the book on audio, which is something I've really never done before, is that it forces you to slow down and listen. You're not skipping passages, or hurrying through; you can't, as you're going at the narrator's pace. A lovely thing for such a lovely, slow text.


  4. Rather amazing, really, that the College of Cardinals should announce the election of a successor to St. Peter not with a text message, or Tweet, or Facebook posting, but with a puff of smoke that could be read and interpreted without need of any gadget at all.


  5. …and for me, Diane. How many of book lovers are truly introverts? And if we don't find the time for our reading pleasure, how the heck do all those extroverts when they come home from a party? 🙂


  6. I've gradually come to realize that there are things I can do (and occasionally, though not often, coveted reading that I can only access) with my Nook or Ipod or CD player. But there are almost always tradeoffs, or obstacles, that come up, and each of the technologies is good for some things and terrible/annoying for others. I bribe myself into taking long(er) walks by having a good book on my Ipod, but it's a lot less convenient to listen to that same book once I get home. I can listen to books on CD in my bedroom or in the car, but not other places, unless I use my laptop. I'm finishing Middlemarch, and I have it on my nook and in hardcover, but on Monday, when I grabbed my nook because it was raining and it takes up less room in the work tote that closes at the top, I found I had somehow erased Middlemarch from it. That was okay, though, because there was another book on it that I started instead, so I had an emergency book :), and I'm loving it. Except that means I now have five things going instead of only four (which is bad enough). None of this is conducive to serenity, or to finishing a book without forgetting how it started. It's hopeless, but a nice problem to have.


  7. I can definitely relate. I like to be able to do most things on most days but with the number of devices I have and the number of websites I follow, that doesn't happen. It would be so much nicer to be able to downsize without feeling too bad about it.


  8. What will you have to eliminate to have a simpler life? I said the same thing a few years ago. I made a list of all my 'jobs' and numbered them in order of importance. I gave up several, but it took a little while to do it. I'm now to the point that I can say, “I love my life.” I have a large block of time from 8-3 almost every day, and that uninterrupted time has made such a difference in how much I get done each day and also to my mental well being.

    I've been listen to Middlemarch on my Iphone, but every app I use where Middlemarch is available is a Librivox recording. The readers are terrible! Some can barely speak English! Do you know where I can find a good recording of it? It's not available on Audible. I love audiobooks! I listen in the car and when I iron or wash dishes. It's a good way to add more books read per year than would ordinarily be read with book in hand.


  9. I loved this post, Bellezza! And I love that you own so many products from B&N. 😉

    I, too, have a lot of gadgets (iPad, Nano, smartphone, Simple Touch, Bose, etc.), but it's the social media that has taken over my life. Blogging, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and now Twitter! Eeek! But I love each and every one and work very hard to limit my time on each in order to have time for reading. I do love being able to listen to audio books on my Nano and while some may say it's not the same as reading the print edition, it's still reading. I'm currently listening to Justin Cronin's The Twelve and I have gone for a couple of hour-long walks on the bike trail just so I can spend an large chunk of time listening to Scott Brick read to me. That man is amazing!

    BTW, I own one (1) tube of lipstick. One! Now ask me how many tubes of Burt's Bees lipbalm I have tucked away in my house, purse, car, and desk drawers. Almost as many as my reading glasses! 🙂


  10. Last Saturday I got the 3 volumes of Proust's. I plan to start reading it earnestly but the Brothers Karamazov is nearby.
    For now I'm enjoying the hilarious Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.


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