Second hand anxiety

Audiobooks, or programs like Audible are wonderful for readers. It opens worlds for people who can no longer read or have reading disabilities.  It allows us to read multiple books at one time.  It allows us to read books during times when we normally couldn’t.  On the drive to and from work or driving anywhere for that matter.  While working out or out for a walk. While working, if you have a desk job that allows you to multitask.  Listing to books gives you more time to read by adding time normally needed to be carved into a busy lifestyle to sit down and read a chapter.   

For all of its benefits, there’s one drawback to listening to books. The inability to skip.  

I suffer from second hand anxiety.  I have problems watching shows like The Office because I get uncomfortable quickly.  The same with books.  I want to enjoy a book, to fall into the storyline.  I love books that allow you to get attached to the characters, root for them, cheer for them.  Cry when they cry and laugh when they laugh.  That feeling in your chest when they fall in love or alternatively the pounding of your heart when they do something foolish and all you want to do is shake them and correct their path.   

 I understand the object stories are obstacles that need to be faced and overcome leading to the climax and the anticipated outcome.  But sometimes there are stories that give me so much anxiety that I have problems finishing them.  This is especially true on audiobooks. There’s no way to skim until you pass parts that are uncomfortable to you.  It’s like a speeding train where you can see the upcoming hole in the track, but you can’t do a thing to stop it.   

I take this as a sign that the books are so good and so engaging that I want the characters to be happy and not have strife.  And when I see things coming down the road that are going to rip the rug right out from under my characters, I get second hand anxiety. I want these characters to see what I see and it’s frustrating and anxiety inducing when they can.  I know that underneath that rug about to be ripped out from under them is a huge hole.  That hole might have a mattress at the bottom or rocks.  Or the mattress might have a spring poking out of it.  Either way, that feeling when they fall is what makes me anxious.  Especially when I know they could’ve just stepped around that freaking rug and carried on.  

The majority of times I see this as because I’m older than these main characters.  They’re usually in their twenties and don’t have the experience or foresight to stop and thing about what they’re doing or what’s about to happen.  

The first book this happened to me was, of course, an audiobook.  The book had been out about a year before I began reading it and I literally found everyone I knew had read to get them to spoil me a little on the book because I was so terrified the bad guys would win.  It was a romance but with the alarmingly new attitude by some that romance doesn’t necessarily mean HEA, I was rightfully nervous.  In the end, I was told it turns out okay and that allowed me to finish the book.   

This recent book, I don’t want to give a title because it’s an amazing book and I love it.  And I love the author’s work.  But the main character is doing some things that are going to come back and bite her in the butt.  Especially since she doesn’t have the luxury of a VPN to hide her digital footprint. Sometimes a fake account is nothing more than a pebble to a true digital detective. Especially when they’re maligning your business.  

Will I stop reading this book? Hell no. But I need to go to my local bookstore and buy it in paperback or trade paperback.  That way I can skim parts carefully.  I can control what I read and how I read it.  I’m not stuck on that careening train about to derail and crash. What that means is the review of the book might be a month or two delayed and might be replaced with something else.  Reading should be something enjoyed and if one medium doesn’t work for you, you’re allowed to dig around until you find the medium that does.  

Until next time friends, enjoy the weather.  And take your time to sit down and relax with a good book. 

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