Lori's Book Nook

A word on audio

Posted on: September 1, 2006

Okay, so I’m an avowed bibliophile…I love printed books, beautiful books especially. But, I also have a weakness for audio books, well-read.

A couple of years ago, I discovered Audible.com, and ‘sucked in’…and enjoyed every minute of it. At the time, I was commuting 40 minutes each way every day, so it was worth it. If I didn’t get a seat on the train it was fine, ’cause I didn’t need to sit down to ‘read’ comfortably.

One of my favourite things is to listen to poetry, read well. One year with my annual book gift card from my mom (what else do you get a book lover for Christmas?), I bought Poetry Speaks: Hear Great Poets Read Their Work from Tennyson to Plath. Wow. Three CDs with a big book…here’s a glowing review. Silvia Plath’s palpable anger reading “Daddy”…Dorothy Parker being sardonic…Ogden Nash and his amusingly nasal voice, perfectly suited to his poetry. And the real treasure, a wax cylinder recording of Lord Tennyson reading part of the “Charge of the Light Brigade”.

Then, I found Seven Ages: An Anthology of Poetry with Music…poems grouped by the Seven Ages of Man from Shakespeare, read by various British Actors. John Cleese reading “The Owl and the Pussycat” is one treasure in the midst of a lot of great stuff.

Readers are important. Not everyone can read well. The difference between listening to a book being read and experiencing a great story is all in the voice. On Audible.com, my favourite book was Pride and Prejudice, read by Kate Reading, a British woman with a truly great voice. I could not stop listening to this book, and I’d read it numerous times already. Hearing it was an utter joy!

So, tonight I came across ThoughtAudio, some free audio downloads…which has prompted this long post. I’ll try some out, but I don’t know about the quality of the readers. Maybe someone out there has checked it out and can let us know?

Thanks.

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6 Responses to "A word on audio"

[…] I’ve mentioned audio before, and classic lit delivered to your mailbox…and now I’ve found a couple more sites that relate. […]

Lori
In your take on audio books you mention one – at least to me – absolutely vital point: Narrators can add life to the written word! A well narrated audio book is true ‘cinema in the head’.

On the other hand, if you’re forced to listen to a voice that simply does not agree with you, it’s like having to battle your way through 300 pages of a book that you must read, and that’s printed in much too small letters…. – Not a pleasure, a real pain!

That’s why I have audio samples on my site. Before you download any book, you have a chance to listen in and find out if the voice(es) are OK for you.

I love printed books, but simply don’t have the time to sit down and read as much as I’d like. So I took to audiobooks and now manage to diminish my TBR list whilst working out or driving.

I don’t know whether Boston’s library system is unusual or not, but it offers audio books for download for people who have cards. They let you “check out” up to ten books at a time. Each book comes with some kind of built-in license that lets you play the windows media files for up to two weeks. You can also burn them to a cd or transfer them to a portable device like my cheap little sandisk player. It’s worth checking with your library to see if they offer something similar.

@Rolf
I figured you’d agree with me, O Purveyor of Audio Books! 🙂 But the samples are crucial — glad you have ’em.

@Rich
Had to check…no, not at my library. But that’s a cool thing. Are you a ‘user’ of audio books?

I’ve downloaded a few non-fiction titles, but I’m kind of ambivalent about the whole audio book thing. I just don’t absorb the information in the same way. I can’t listen to fiction and follow it, though I read plenty of fiction. I do like to listen to some of the non-fiction stuff like history, philosophy and so on. I find audio books best after I’ve spent a whole day working on the computer, and my eyes are tired from staring into the lcd screen. I put them on the little sandisk player, turn off the lights and flop on the couch or wherever.

I’ve only really tried one piece of fiction on audio — but I really like well-read audio poetry (by the poet, by preference, but Ginsberg’s reading of Howl is hard to take. Prefer my own!), and non-fiction. Rich, you would probably like my collection. 🙂

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