Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Listen up

Both of you know I'm a fan of audiobooks. I don't, however, lounge around the shanty wearing earbuds and eating bonbons. When I'm listening to a book, I'm either driving or walking. Not sure why that is, lounging around the shanty eating bonbons sounds like a good way to spend time, and listening to a book would only enhance the experience.

Right?

Anyway. I was a member of audible.com for a while, and have enjoyed using my credits for The Paris Wife, Room: A Novel, Cutting for Stone and The Help, among others. I've just started listening to Water for Elephants, which hasn't quite got me hooked. Yet. But I eventually decided audible.com was a budget item I could live without.

When I finished The Paris Wife, which is the story of Earnest and Hadley Hemingway's marriage, I wanted to read some Hemingway. Surely Hemingway ought to be in the public domain, thought I. Alas, I was wrong. But there are thousands of classics which are in the public domain, books I've wanted to read but just never got around to picking up.

Here, then, are a few sources for free audiobooks.

If you use iTunes, some books have been turned into podcasts. Each chapter is an episode. I have so far found Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (a contemporary of Hemingway's), Middlemarch by George Eliot, Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence, and several more. Search for Librivox in the podcast section of iTunes to find more goodies, or just search for audiobooks. The well is deep. Deeper than I thought when I started writing this post.

Librivox also has its own website and catalog of recorded books. Their mission statement reads:
LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books.
Project Gutenberg, which is steadily releasing public-domain ebooks, also has an audiobook section. Some of their titles have been in collaboration with Librivox, so there is some duplication of titles.


Another resource is AudioBooksForFree.com. I haven't downloaded anything from this site. Yet. But I'm glad to know it's there. Looks like many of the works are short stories, but I could be wrong about this; I haven't really explored the site in depth.


OpenCulture.org offers similar titles to the other sites I've noted, but there might be something unique there, as well.


Your library may also offer downloadable audiobooks. Check the website for your state's library system. We will again have that service here in West Virginia by the end of this month. I've borrowed digital audiobooks previously, but that option is undergoing some virtual renovation. The advantage of library downloads is, obviously, more current titles.



Until I get a Kindle or a Nook, I plan to enjoy more audiobooks on my iPod. With thousands of titles available, and miles to go before I sleep, well, one things just naturally leads to another.

I may even start lounging around the shanty, listening while I knit. That would be better than eating bonbons. Well, maybe not better in the pleasure sense of the word, but certainly better for me!

How about you? Are you an audiobook fan? How'd you get started? Do you listen at home or on the road? Details, details!

4 comments:

  1. I found Librivox a few months ago and LOVE it. I wish I had a good voice so I could be a volunteer. I used to do distributed proofreading for Project Gutenberg, but that didn't require any talent :) I listen to audiobooks mostly in bed on my ipod; you know sometimes I have terrible insomnia, and I'm more likely to get back to sleep listening to a book than reading or watching TV. At night I listen to easy things, that don't matter if I go in and out of consciousness during the story. Like Black Beauty, which I read about 50,000 times as a child: I can pick up at any sentence in the book. Or some of the ERB Pellucidar books.

    Have to say I've never cared for Hemingway. I want to, but just can't get into it. The only one I like is To Have and Have Not, generally considered by him and critics alike to be his worst book. Oh well.

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  2. I wrote a report about Winesburg, Ohio when I was a sophomore in high school, so it must be an old book.

    Did you see the new Kindle Cloud Reader? You can read books through Safari...

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  3. I just can't get into audible books. Probably for the same reason I haven't gotten into my Kindle. I LOVE BOOKS! The actual feel, smell, experience of reading a "real" book.

    Listening gives me too much opportunity to drift away. When I've tried to listen, I would find myself losing track of what was happening in the book and having to back track - very frustrating.

    I can see how this method is a good timesaving device, as you can listen and do other things such as drive or walk or whatever, but my mind just can't wrap around it all.

    Our library lends audio books through download, and I have a friend who gets books on CD from the library as well.

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  4. I love audiobooks. Being young before TV, my mother used to read aloud to my brother and I when we were even older so it is very familiar to me. I started when I was going to the gym and walking on the treadmill. I would check out a mystery and only let myself listen when on the machine. Great motivation. Now I read while knitting, driving, even have a waterproof cover for my iPod and listed while exercising in the water. Also when doing mundane chores around the house.

    One of my husband and my favorite books was Water For Elephants. Being raised at the end of the depression may be part of it but I thought it was a wonderful example of how NOT to treat older people in a nursing home. Keep with it, I think you will like it in the end.

    I keep my books on my iphone and there are apps for Nook and Kindle so I can get their cheap books also. I get many from the library and put those on the phone too. Delete them as soon as I've finished them.

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