Monday, August 10, 2009

The "acoustical liberation" of books

I've been sick the last couple of days, and Saturday was pretty much unable to do anything but listening to the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone audio book and watch the Swallows and Amazons film.

Now I'm thinking about audio books. I still tend to call them books on tape, though you won't find any that actually are on a cassette tape these days. I always liked listening to these, but I always had difficulties finding a time for it. I don't drive, and I don't really like listening to them on the bus. I can't just sit and listen. The best thing really, is to listen to them while I have a sewing project going that requires a lot of hand-sewing, since then I feel like I'm accomplishing something useful while I listen. I don't often have such projects, though.

For some reason I have really vivid memories of listening to Faerie Wars, by Herbie Brennan, on tape. It was summer, and I spent most of the time sitting in the living room with my big purple radio/cd/tape player, listening to this book and doing puzzles. It had a very good reader, Gerard Doyle, and now listening to any audio book read by a male, English voice instantly makes me think of Faerie Wars. Any audio book makes me want to do puzzles. It's funny how strong this association is, and I can't say why that particular book stands out so much.

You've probably already heard of this, but LibriVox is a collection of public domain books read by volunteers. You can volunteer to read one, or just listen, and it's always good for a sick day when no one's around to read to you (which is what I always want when I'm sick) and you haven't got a book on cd handy. I listened to part of Anne of Green Gables in the car during our road trip last summer, and I got that off LibriVox and thought the reader was perfect. There's usually more than one version of the same book, read by different people, so you have some choice and you can download it all at once or bit by bit.

I think books read aloud take on something special, often, whether because it brings us back to being read to as children or for simple reasons of sound, rhythm, and what special powers voice can have.

1 comment:

hschinske said...

I got one of the Anne of Green Gables books out of the library once and hated the narrator, so it's good to know there's another choice out there -- thanks!

Do you know Peter Beagle's Tamsin? It's excellent, and the author is the narrator of the audio version and is very good. I haven't listened to the whole thing -- I wanted to hear a particular tune, as I knew Beagle was a musician and surely had a tune in mind. I plan to listen to it all when I get a chance.


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