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I adore a good book, and for the most part, I think a good book is terribly fond of me. We spend a scandalous number of hours together in our love affair, curled up on the sofa or nestled under bedcovers, just the two of us. And a dog. And two cats. And two rabbits and fish nearby. But mostly, it's just us.

With a book in hand, I have my own Star Trek transporter, beaming me to distant lands and times with a turn of the page. As a child, I rode the rails with The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner and strolled home with Laura Ingalls to her Little House on the Prairie. In later years, I delved into lesser known works of John Steinbeck and Mark Twain. And recently, I've been all over the map with everything from Louis L'Amour and Larry McMurtry to the hilarious Jenny Lawson, whose raw confessions of mental illness in Furiously Happy made me laugh aloud with such abandon that I caution you not to read it in public places.

But for all the joy this literary liaison brings, there is one aspect that has consistently led me astray -- quite literally. I've fallen hard in an unrequited love with the audiobook.

Oh, what pleasure in someone reading you a story! I'll download an audiobook from the Bentonville library and hustle about the house doing chores, only to find myself in the next moment seated at the kitchen table, looking ill. I've a dish towel in one hand and a dripping plate in the other, staring into my tablet like it was a Silvertone radio, awaiting the next word.

And that's not so bad, so long as I'm home. Things really start to go batty when I take our relationship on the road.

Listening to Loving Frank by Nancy Horan ended me up in Rolla instead of Piggott. For those unfamiliar with those fine destinations, Piggott is in Northeast Arkansas near the Mississippi River. Rolla ... is not. Nancy related the shocking events from Frank Lloyd Wright's home in Wisconsin with such power that I missed every third turn and ended up in central Missouri. Conversely, listening to One Second After by William Forstchen shaved nearly two hours off a 13-hour trip as I white-knuckled the straightaways and fought to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. If I'm ever unsure how fast I'm going, local law enforcement is kind enough to tell me. They'll even write it down for me in case I forget.

By the time I made it home this past Christmas to see Uncle Ronnie, I'd already spent half the day fighting bears and chasing scoundrels all over the frontier with Michael Punke in The Revenant. I was exhausted. Uncle Ronnie completely understood this.

Sometimes I do highly intelligent things. Then I try to put the milk carton in the dryer and search for the glasses I'm wearing. Knowing this, I'd do well to not overbook a road trip.

NAN Our Town on 01/25/2018

Print Headline: Scandalous love affair

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