I love books. I love print books, e-books, audio books, old books, new books, kids books and all the books in between. This, incidentally, is not why I am a librarian – but that is a story for another post. Growing up I wanted nothing more than to own a book shop (or a deli, food being another of my obsessions) – I am more or less over both of those now you will be pleased to hear.
At the moment I particularly love audio books. I don’t need my glasses, I don’t need an extra bag to carry my book, I can ‘read’ from the moment I walk out of the front door to the moment I arrive at my desk, without having to worry about being run over on the way to the station because I have my nose in a book. I’m not that fussed what I listen to and am more likely to finish an audio book, simply because it’s harder to succumb to the temptation to flick to the last page to see if it’s worth persevering with a difficult or just plain bad book. I can ‘borrow’ them free from my local library or at a pinch, buy them from iTunes if necessary.
As another free source, I’ve recently discovered Librivox – their goal is to record all public domain literature as audio books and push them out there for anyone to listen to. As a librarian in a college full of ESL students I am all for free access to audio books, they are a great way for students of another language to improve their listening skills and we don’t have the budget at MPOW to supply licensed ones. Now, the catch is that as Librivox is only working with public domain material, effectively this means only books published before 1923 in the US. However, there is a great collection of literature that falls into this category and as a way of accessing and comprehending some of our ‘classic’ literature, audio books are a good way to go. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of understanding Shakespeare in high school much better by hearing it read in parts during our English class than by studying it alone at home in silence. My son tackled The Hobbit at quite an early age, by reading the book with the audio book playing at the same time. The same son recently struggled in Year 12 with Pride & Prejudice and used the same tactic – listening to the book freed him up to do something else at the same time (playing pool if I remember rightly), allowing him to see it as an acceptable activity rather than resenting having to sit and read the book.
So, a new project for me (the ultimate point of this post). I’m investigating becoming a volunteer reader with Librivox – it combines two of my skills (reading and talking!) and gives me the warm and fuzzies you get from contributing to a worthwhile project.