Repost: About Free Audiobooks

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

About Free Audiobooks

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It was with some reluctance that I finally began listening to audiobooks.  My dad was probably the first person who tried to convince me that I would love them, but I was skeptical.  After a while, though, I finally decided to give it a try by downloading several titles from and listening to them on my iPod during long flights and my daily commutes.


That was somewhere around ten years ago, and I have listened to a lot of audiobooks since then.  I won’t say I am exactly a convert, or that I am 100% in love with the listening experience when contrasted to holding a book in hand and tackling it at my leisure.  But there have been a lot of fun reading/listening experiences in that time.  Perhaps the best was when I was on a long road trip with two friends, and we listened to one of the newly released Harry Potterbooks together.  The narration was good, and it was a lot of fun hearing the story together in the car, and rehashing when we stopped and got out of the car for one reason or another.


So, as someone who does a fair bit of listening, and who has a liking for older books that are in the public domain, I’ve done a lot of downloading of free books.  There are a lot of spots that offer really good quality, but there are some that can be rather hit or miss.


Most recently, I’ve been listening to several downloads from Librivox.  I usually really enjoy what I download from Librivox.  Right now, I am in the middle of Virginia Woolf’s Night and Day, and the reading is really good.  It is done in a nice, even voice, and the voice suits the text pretty well.  That is quite different, though, from a couple I listened to last month, especially The Aeneid.  I was sad to have to rank it as a miss on my September list, but the fact is that the reading was just not that good.  Edgar Rice Burrough’s A Princess of Mars was, like The Aeneid, split up between different readers, and so each chapter was done in a different voice and different accent.  It was fairly distracting in both instances.  For The Aeneid, it was made worse because several of the readers took on a sing-song type of voice, obviously not knowing how to handle the rhyme and meter of Dryden’s translation well when reading aloud.  It was disappointing.


I have had better luck with ejunto, for the most part.  It is mostly classics there.  You’ll find a lot of good texts in the fields of philosophy, history, science, and literature.  And there are lots of memoirs and biographies available.  I really like the recordings, but the selection is not quite as wide as what you find at Librivox.  But if you find what you are looking for there, you can be pretty sure the quality will be good.  I hope they will continue expanding the list of titles they have available.


One way or another, both Librivox and ejunto offer a really nice means for downloading free audiobooks.  I’ve got an iPod full of them, and still have many hours of listening to do to complete all the titles I’ve got there.


And that’s a good thing.  Something to look forward to on the long flights I’ll be doing before too long.




© 2009 Shelly Bryant

2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
I have yet to listen to an audio book for I feel that the words in a novel were meant to be seen and not heard. Also, I don’t want the voice of the reader to get between me and the words. My brother and his wife, however, listen to them a great deal on car trips. Neither of them has time to read and sitting for hours in a car with a story suits them very well. I can imagine doing it on flights, but am resisting the idea.


Friday, November 13, 2009 – 03:22 AM
It’s definitely not my preferred mode of experiencing a novel, Malcolm, but I have come to enjoy it.  Like your brother and sister-in-law, it is mostly for commuting, for me, and for long flights as well (though I often turn off the audio book and pick up a “real” book on a plane too).

For the interference of the readers, I’ve actually enjoyed that more than I expected, overall.  On some of the free recordings, it does get irritating, as I noted in the post.  But for the most part, a good reader can add to the story.  I actually enjoy listening to books I’ve read before, and hearing other people’s take on them.  It’s kind of fun, and a good way to get to revisit a book that interested me in the past.  Also, it’s a great way to use the time of a commute (or whatever) instead of letting the mind idle while you just go through the motions of the day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009 – 09:59 AM

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