Audio Books

I have had scant experience in my life with audio books, i.e. ‘books on tape.’  Generally I would just listen to the radio (lately NPR exclusively) in the car, and read a physical book pretty much any other time – including while eating, knitting, crossing the street, etc.  Really, I have really crossed a street while reading a book, it was a Babysitters Club book in about 3rd grade, but I was walking next to my mother, so I knew it was okay to cross. 

There are times when reading a physical book is difficult: while cleaning, folding clothes, straightening/blow drying hair, and, depending on the pattern, occasionally knitting.  I regularly read during all of these things, even though it greatly increases the amount of time necessary.  Sometimes I will break out my Ipod to do these things, but the music isn’t often enough to keep me entertained during these low-stimulation activities.  if I have any on my computer, I’ll often simply listen to un-heard episodes of This American Life or Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.  The problem is that each of these shows only comes out once a week, which adds up to less than two hours of engaging talk on my Ipod every week.   

This point of not having very many things to listen to was hammered in when I started thinking about beginning to take walks on my lunch break in the next week or so, since supposedly the weather in Chicago is actually going to be getting nice.  Now, clearly I can’t just walk quietly by myself without a purpose (as I am simply not capable of it), nor can I read a book while I walk.  This was a two-fold problem: first of all, I clearly do not have enough to listen to on my Ipod to walk every day; and secondly, taking walks at lunch will severely cut in on my reading time.  Lately, with our ‘construction work’, my lunch break has been the only time during the day in which I can consistantly carve out time to read. 

The solution to both of these problems, I have decided, is audio books (as if you couldn’t tell from the title of this post!).  I was hoping to find some free audio of books in the public domain.  I tried Project Gutenberg, but I was not impressed with their interface for actually downloading the audio.  Someone on LibraryThing then pointed me to LibriVox, a site with the goal of recording ALL books in the public domain.  I downloaded a copy of Pride and Prejudice and uploaded it to my Ipod last night.  I am completely hooked, and nearly half way done.  I have been listening all day while painting the bathroom, cleaning, and driving around (no, I don’t drive with both earphones in).  This is a fantastic way to get in some reading in times when normally there is no way for me to read.  Plus, since I’m determined now to use LibriVox and only get public domain works, this is a good excuse to get in some of the ‘classics’ for which I do not always have patience in print.  Particularly in books with more antiquated languge humor, especially drier humor, is easier to pick up when listened to than read.  I keep laughing out loud at Pride and Prejudice. 

Now I just need to figure out what classic to download next!

6 comments to Audio Books

  • I love listening to audiobooks, and used to listen to a lot of them when I was driving to and from work, but now that I catch the train I read instead. Downloading the classics is a great idea! I’m off to see what I can download to listen to while I do my cleaning!

  • fyreflybooks

    I can’t imagine life without audiobooks. My dad drives quite a bit for work, so he had books on tape in the car for as far back as I can remember. I didn’t really start listening myself until a post-college road trip that got me through the entirety of the Lord of the Rings.

    Now I’m almost never without my iPod with a book on it, and it’s a huge sanity saver, especially when I’ve got a ton of fairly mindless labwork to do. I actually listened to Pride and Prejudice a few weeks ago, and loved it – I absolutely agree that the prose style gets into the brain better through the ears than through the eyes.

  • hiya, you might also want to check our http://earideas.com for good audio selected daily (brought to you by a couple of librivox’s original members).

  • Hi –

    You should also check out Playaways. Playaway is a new, preloaded audiobook format and they are available at Chicago Public Library (or also available to purchase online). They are great because they come preloaded with a title, and only weigh 2 ounces – so great for your walks! And no downloading required!

    Enjoy and happy listening!
    Dana – from the Playaway team

  • Despite the way it ended for me, I really enjoyed listening to Eat, Pray, Love on CD. When I first started my blog I was anti-audio and wouldn’t have counted it in my total. I think that was really just stupid of me now. Before I learned to love reading on my own, I loved being read to. As an adult, how many opportunities do you have to be read to anymore? I will have to check out LibriVox and these others myself. Great post!!!

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