I love music more than books

Dear Ella and Susan,
Here’s my guilty confession: I spend far more time listening to music than I do reading. When I was younger, I had time for both, but now I tend only to read the news and whatever’s in my Twitter feed. When I really want to relax and unwind – or I’m driving – it’s always opera I turn to, or my latest singer-songwriter discovery. I’m very aware, though, that I’m losing touch with that imaginative room in my mind in which stories take root and come vividly to life... and I miss it. How would you suggest I redress the balance?
Yours,
Ben
Dear Ben

We suggest a two-tier cure. First, experience the music of words in the tongue of a master by getting hold of an audio version of Ulysses by James Joyce. Listen to it in your car, and tell yourself you’re listening to a piece of music. You’ll hardly notice the difference. Jim Norton’s reading is accomplished and mellifluous, and ‘hearing’ the novel with an Irish accent brings it to life in a whole new way – for the genius of Joyce’s writing is as much, if not more, in the melody and lilt of the phrasing than in the meaning of the written word.

Make Ulysses on audio your bridge back to literature. Cross it, then pick up a copy of Nabokov’s Lolita. From its famous opening – “Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta” – through to its notorious agonies and ecstasies of inappropriate lust and self-justification/flagellation, Nabokov wrote in an English that comes, in terms of pitch and ear, as close to perfection as perhaps it is possible to come. Certainly it’s an astonishing achievement for a non-native English speaker. Approach the experience as if it were a tragic opera – because Humbert Humbert is nothing if not grandiose, melodramatic and depraved in his servitude to love and suffering.
We prescribe - Ulysses (James Joyce) on audio and Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)

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A SLUG WITH VISIONS OF HUMANITYABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP ENDED, LEAVING SCARSADULT ACNEAFRAID OF FAILUREALCOHOLIC DAUGHTERALONE ON A WIDE, WIDE SEAAlways wanted to be a writerANOREXICANXIOUS ABOUT SINGLE FRIENDAT A FORK IN THE ROADAVID READER, LACKING BOOKBEREFT OF A CATBORED IN ALABAMABOTHERED AND BEWILDEREDBRAIN SHRINKING MOMMABROKENBROKEN HEARTBROKEN HEARTED - TORN BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE BEST FRIENDSBROKEN UP WITH GIRLFRIEND; FEELING BURNT OUTCAN’T MOVE ONCANDIDA REVOLTAIRECan’t afford to go on holidayCAST ASIDECHEATEDCHRONIC PAINCOLD HANDS AND FEETCONCERNED ABOUT DAUGHTERCONFLICTED PARTNERSCRAVING FOOD CULTURECYNICAL STEPSONDAILY ABUSEDARK NIGHT OF THE SOULDEPRESSED AND UNABLE TO READDEPRESSED DURING CHRISTMAS, AND LONELY NOWDESPERATELY WANTON GIRLDIRECTIONLESSEASILY BORED WITH NOVELSEMOTIONALLY SABOTAGED BY MY MOTHEREMOTIONS IN EXTREMEEVER THE FRIEND AND NOT THE PARTNEREXTREME ANGER AND FRUSTRATIONFADING AWAYFALLEN OUT WITH MY FRIENDSFALLING IN LOVE WAY TOO FASTFAZED AND CONFLICTEDFEAR OF CONFRONTATIONFEAR OF GETTING OLDFERTILITY PROBLEMSFOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT)FORGING A BRIGHT NEW FUTUREFRIEND WHO HAS LOST A CHILD LATE IN PREGNANCYFRIENDS DAUGHTER LOST TO SUICIDEFrightened of lifeGAPING HOLEGetting over a break-upGIRL OF UNCERTAINTY, BOUND BY RULESGIRL WHO DOESN’T FIT INGRIPPED BY LOSSGUILTY FRIENDHOPELESSNESSHOUSE AND LIBRARY DESTROYED BY FIREI love music more than booksI no longer commute – and therefore I no longer readI PEEK AT THE END OF NOVELS BECAUSE I WORRY THE CHARACTER MIGHT NOT MAKE ITI wish I were famousIN MOURNING OVER LITERARY DEATHSINABILITY TO SIT STILL AND ANXIETYINCONSISTENT AND NON-STUDIOUS- BUT AMBITIOUS NONETHELESSINDECISIVEINSECUREINTERESTED IN EVERYTHING BUT ACHIEVING NOTHINGINVISIBLE WOMANITALIAN NOVEL CURESJILTED AND UNSUREJOB IN LIBRARY UNDER THREATKICKED IN THE HEADLEADENLIVING ON THE MARGINSLONE RANGERLONELY AND DEJECTEDLONELY IN LOVELONELY IN MONOTONOUS JOB, LOSING SANITYLOOKING FOR A SENSE OF PURPOSELOOKING FORWARDSLOSS OF A SISTERLOSTLOW WATTAGELOW-ENERGY PESSIMISMMAD SCIENTISTMARRIED TO A MAN, ATTRACTED TO WOMENMISSED THE BOATMISSING MY MOTHER-IN-LAWMUM GOING BACK TO WORKNEED TO LET GONEW CITY, NEW LIFE -BOOKS FOR 12 YEAR OLD BOY?NEW FRIENDSHIP WITH HOLOCAUST SURVIVORNIGHTMARISH COLLEAGUENOMADIC FLANEURPOST NATAL DEPRESSIONPREGNANT AND ALONE