And One for the "Readers": LibriVox

By Tannaz Sassooni on 7 February 2007 (Updated 10 June 2007) 7 comments

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A short while back we learned about DailyLit , a service that delivers public domain literature works to your email inbox in easily-digestible chunks. But what if you don't feel like reading? Or what if your eyes are too busy doing something else, like knitting, or cooking, or solving Fermat's last theorem (what, it was getting a little too domestic there!)? In this modern age, we're all about multitasking, after all. Well, friends, reading the classics has entered the age of the internet: it's free and convenient, and doesn't even involve reading anymore! Now that's progress.

LibriVox is a free service that offers a growing collection (689 and counting) of public domain literature works as downloadable audio files. It's like books on tape, except it's free, and there's no tape -- just download the files directly to your computer. Even with the public domain limitation, and in spite of the significant time it takes to record entire books as audio files, there is still an impressive catalog. You've got your whole you-saw-the-movie-now-read-the-book camp. There's a sizable collection from the old Bard. You can even read up on baby-eating and crushing your adversaries and rising to the megalomaniacal power you unquestionably deserve. And their catalog is not limited to English: many languages are represented. Chapters are available as mp3s, ogg vorbis files, or podcasts.

It's a non-profit, volunteer-only project from some warm friendly folks up in Canuckistan. This means you get a broad range of voices reading the selections, from people who care about literature and sharing it with others. There are forums blogs, and plenty of bookish links that foster a sense of community, and the site's administrators make anyone interested in contributing their voice to the project feel very welcome.

So download a couple chapters, pick up your knitting needles, and get yourself edumacated!

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Andrea Karim's picture

It's from Canada, so the accent will drive me nuts, I can just tell.

Also, LibriVox totally sounds like a new pharamceutical release. But I'll probably end up using it - thanks for the tip! I signed up for Daily Lit, but I didn't like the classics that I chose, so this would be a great way to make my commute more bearable.

Tannaz Sassooni's picture

you'd actually be surprised at the variety of accents i heard just from listening to a few of their samples. it does appear to be a pretty worldwide project. and andrea, you could always choose one of their Chinese selections -- hopefully those will not be peppered with aboots and ehs.

Will Chen's picture

I'm downloading Cleland's Fanny Hill right now. I'll let you know what kind of accent to expect. =)

Update:  The reader is quite good!  He reads a *bit* fast and it is kind of werid listening to a dude's voice for a erotic book narrated by a female character.

I used to have audible.com account and I have to say this recording is as good as any I've purchased (except for Lord of the Rings, those are simply in a league of their own).

Andrea Karim's picture

I tend to use a lot of ehs and aboots and whatnot when I speak, so you really wouldn't want me on tape. Plus, I talk faster than most auctioneers. However, I MIGHT be able to do better reading erotica than the guy that Will picked.

Guest's picture
hugh

the canadian connection is just a geographical accident of where LibriVox started, but it's totally global now, and there are all kinds of accents, majority american (of all stripes). Note that some books have different readers for each chapter; some books are all one reader (you can search the catalog for "solo" to get those).

Tannaz Sassooni's picture

welcome and thanks for chiming in, hugh! love your site (in case this was unclear). please, don't mind the self-hating canadian-linguist up above there.. =)

and will, way to find the female erotica amongst the classics!  quite impressive!

Andrea Karim's picture

Labatt's, indeed. Give me a Pyramid ale over a week provincial brew anyday. Argh.

I, too, am impressed with Will's choices. Inspiring.