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Who else loves audiobooks?

on August 22, 2010

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten I still need to post about Corfu.

But first a short break so I can tell you about something really cool.

I grew up with no TV. (And no, I’m not that old. 40 is still quite some way off!) No TV, but loads of books. My mother was a librarian, and she taught us to love books as much as she does. When we couldn’t have the written word – for instance on long car journeys – we had the precursor of those nifty backseat DVD players. That’s right, the audiobook. Or Books On Tape, as we knew them. (I am *that* old. Just about.)

I love audiobooks. I would listen to them every night before bed. Some my mother narrated for me – mostly when I was smaller – and others were professional versions. As well as being excellent entertainment, they’re great for your memory. I can still recite most of Nicol Williamson’s wonderful rendition of The Hobbit, complete with regional accents. And virtually all of the slightly-abridged Chronicles of Narnia read by Michael Hordern. That version of The Chronicles of Narnia is still available by the way, in a CD box-set, and I wholeheartedly recommend it, but sadly The Hobbit is now only available secondhand on cassette.

All of this brings us to Librivox.

No this isn’t an advert. Well it sort of is. But I’m not getting paid for it, and as Librivox is a completely volunteer organisation, neither is anyone else.

Librivox volunteers record public domain texts – such as The Green Fairy Book, remember that? and make them available to listen to, free of charge, with various different downloading options, over the internet.


“We love reading, love books, love literature, think the public domain should be defended and enriched, we like free stuff, we like to hear people read to us, and we like reading to other people. It’s fun, it’s a great community, it’s a rewarding public service to the world. And “nothing” is in it for us, except the satisfaction of participating in a wonderful project.”

Is what their website says. I’ve just signed up to be a volunteer. So far I’ve read one chapter and am halfway through editing a second. Some people have read hundreds. Here’s where you can listen to the recordings:

Remember we’re only talking about Public Domain stuff here. Generally speaking that means the author has been dead for 70 years or more. The rules differ slightly depending on the country you’re in – but basically you won’t find any J.K. Rowling or Bill Bryson, to name just a couple of my own favourite authors. You will however find Jane Austen, Dickens, Shakespeare, Tolstoy and many many others who I have never heard of. And if there’s something missing that you know is in the public domain and you think ought to be there, you can leave a suggestion on the Librivox forum, or here in the comments if you don’t want to sign up there. If you’re not sure whether it’s in the public domain, see if it’s on Project Gutenberg, and if it’s there, it’s good to go.

You could even volunteer to read yourself.


2 responses to “Who else loves audiobooks?

  1. I love reading – love the visual picture words paint – however, I think these would be great on a car trip so I don't have to worry about whether the protable DVDs are juiced up. It would probably help develop listening skills, too. You are reading? How exciting! What about the editing? What do you do there?

  2. For editing you just listen back to yourself and remove any really loud intakes of breath, mouse-clicks, or other sudden noises, and maybe reduce the background noise so you don't get so much hiss. Librivox have a whole load of pages to help you do that stuff so even a complete newbie like me can manage it. 🙂

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