Briefly Liberating the Mind
These days, as I become increasingly submerged by journal articles and text books, I don’t have the time, nor often the inclination, to read much fiction. However, walks into University and bus rides can be usefully spent snatching brief opportunities to listen to audio recordings of books.
I’ve long been a supporter of LibriVox, an outstanding non-profit organisation that campaigns to “acoustically liberate” books in the public domain, by releasing volunteer recordings free of charge on the web. The book readings are broken up into sizeable mp3 audio files available through downloads, weekly podcasts, and iTunes subscription. Not surprisingly perhaps, most of the books in the extensive catalogue feature multiple readers sharing chapter duties. However, root around and you’ll find plenty of single-author readings. Personally, I prefer these, they allow you to build trust with the reader as the narrative develops to create a sense of shared experience. A particular favourite is John Greenman’s lyrical reading of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Librivox reminds us how a relatively old technology, the global distribution of the web, and people’s willingness to share their time, can combine to provide some of mankind’s finest thoughts free of charge.