Last weekend my wife and I drove to Tampa, Florida, stayed 2 days and drove back to Texas, about 40 hours of total driving. Trips like that can be really exhausting, but they do provide an opportunity for the two of us that we don’t normally get.
Both of us are big readers, we love the in-depth stories and details you get from books, but it’s really hard to share that experience with someone at the same time. It’s easy to sit down together and watch a movie that’s just an hour or two. But a book that takes 10-12 hours to go through is a much bigger challenge. So when we go on a road trip together we start planing what books we want to share with the other; books one of us has read already but wants to share with the other.
Now I don’t mean that we read these books out loud to each other; we do audiobooks. I’ve noticed people that have never tried listening to an audiobook before tend to be very hesitant to try one. There’s this thought that most people seem to have that the books are being read aloud in a depressing monotone by an old guy in a tweed suit, but that’s not the case. Todays’ audiobooks are very well produced and read by extremely capable and entertaining people with lots of emotion and feeling. The stories they read really come alive. (Although the one issue is they read slow, but every audiobook player I’ve used has the option to speed up the playback so this isn’t really a big thing.)
The book I picked to listen to together was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This is a book I have both read in paper copy and listened to in audio format by myself. It’s a book I’ve wanted to share with her since I first read it almost 2 years ago.
Ready Player One takes place about 30 years in our future, in a world that’s going through severe energy and food shortages. Life in the real world looks pretty bleak, but in the online virtual world things are different. Everyone has access to what is called the OASIS, which is basically a massive virtual reality video game that also serves as an online environment where kids go to school, people login to work, and people meet and get married without ever meeting in real life.
When the creator of the OASIS dies a video is released saying that he has hidden an Easter Egg somewhere in the OASIS (something software programmers hide in their products for people to discover, usually small things like messages, pictures, or just something funny) and the first person to solve the clues and find the egg wins his multi-billion dollar fortune and control of the OASIS. This of course sparks a world-wide egg hunt with everyone trying to figure it out first. But no one can…… and after 5 years no one has even solved the first clue. Interest in the hunt wanes as more and more people give up, figuring it was only a hoax by a crazy old man. Then one day the main character of the book solves the first clue and re-ignites the hunt. Now he is in a race to solve it while he himself is being hunted both inside the game and in the real world.
But what makes this book so fun is the fact that the old man that hid the egg grew up in the 80’s, and he loved everything about it, and so when he hid the egg all the clues and hints revolve around 80’s video games, music, television and movies. So in 2040 everyone becomes obsessed with the 80’s once more. There is so much 80’s trivia and pop culture crammed in this book. There is such huge nostalgia to this book for anyone that grew up near this time frame. And for those that lived in preceding decades it’s almost like a nerd history class about the games and tv shows that started it all.
Plus Wil Wheaton is the reader for this audiobook and he does such an amazing job. You can just hear the passion in his voice as he reads the story. He grew up in the 80’s and you can tell from listening to him read that he relates to so much about what is going on. It really adds great depth to the reading of the book.
So a big thanks out to Ernest Cline and Wil Wheaton for making our drive a little more enjoyable. It’s a lot of fun to re-experience a good book for the first time through the eyes of another person. Getting to laugh out loud together at funny parts, having to pause after certain events just to be able to talk to each other about what just happened, and then being about to discuss the thing as a whole once it’s all over, it really turns otherwise monotonous car rides into lasting memories.
“Going outside is highly overrated.” – Ready Player One