Once we owned four cats. Or maybe they owned us. The thing about them was this: They were the best listeners. As someone who likes to read aloud, I could always count on my cats for an audience. Yes, they stretched. And, yes, they often yawned. But mostly they hunkered in place as I read. Content, if not rapt.
One winter, I read aloud Philip Roth's "The Human Stain." Sometimes I read to my husband. Sometimes to the cats. I'm not sure I would've made it through that long and important novel if I'd had to read it silently. Loneliness might have set in. Or something worse. And if I hadn't had an audience, I wouldn't to this day be able to wonder aloud: "Remember all those crows? How smart they were? What do you think Roth was trying to say?"
By the way, these days I'm reading aloud to my husband Kati Marton's "Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages that Shaped Our History," and Robert Morgan's "The Road from Gap Creek."