Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!

Reading while driving, and living to tell about it

Posted May 20th, 2012 by

I don’t advocate texting or talking on your cell phone while driving. I had a close call the other day when some yahoo veered into my lane just ahead of me while he was doing something on his phone. But I have become a strong advocate of reading while driving. Let me explain.

I recently listened to the audio version of 11/22/63, the time travel novel by Stephen King that my wife Lindi had just finished. We both loved it. King’s books have been hit or miss with me. I’m not a horror fan, but I love good fiction and he’s a terrific story teller. 11/22/63 combined great story-telling, time travel, and focuses on a lifelong obsession of mine: the assassination of President Kennedy. In an afterword, King says that the all-time great time travel novel remains Time and Again, published in 1970, and written by Jack Finney (who also wrote the sci-fi classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers).

Published in 1970, Time and Again tells the story of Simon Morley, an illustrator working in Manhattan who is chosen to participate in a secret government project in which he will attempt to travel to the past. The experiment works and Morley finds himself transported to 1882 New York. One reason this book has become a beloved classic is that Finney did such a masterful job of recreating 19th century New York City and describes the differences between 1882 and 1970 in such intricate detail that anyone who knows much about New York can’t help but be impressed.

One of the highlights for me was that a key location in the book is the Dakota Apartments, located next to Central Park; where John Lennon was murdered 10 years after this novel was published. Another highlight was how tense and compelling this story is without any gratuitous violence or sexuality. Time and Again is simply a wonderful story. I highly recommend it.

Here’s how we read Time and Again. Lindi and I did so together – something we haven’t done before. We picked the book up at our library the day before we began 18 days on the road together. We flew to Cleveland, where I spoke at the 15th annual MetroHealth Pastoral Care Conference on May 3. It was after the conference that Time and Again began. Lindi read aloud as we drove from Cleveland to New Jersey for a wedding, then on to Baltimore to meet our newest grandchild. She read as we drove to New York for a few days with my writing partner Sharon, then on to Connecticut, Queens, and back to Baltimore. After a couple more days with our new angel, she read as we drove back to Cleveland for our flight home.

Our experiment was so successful that we finished the book before our travel concluded so we bought another book (The Woman in Black) that she literally finished it ten minutes before we arrived at home after our three hour drive from the airport.

Reading while driving? I highly recommend it as long as your passenger is doing the reading.

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Copyright 2012 by Thomas Norman DeWolf | Website: James DeW. Perry