Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Librevox Project

I have lately indulged myself in the art of audio books. I call it an art because the reading aloud requires takes an artistic point of view to do it well. The pace, the inflections, voice tamber, volume, and yes, even linguistic accents -- these are only a few of the many aspects of what makes a good recording.

Librevox.org Home Page

Started in August 2005 by Hugh McGuire of Montreal, Canada, Libravox.org has a vision: "To make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet:" And here it is nine years later, and the list is so large that it is almost impossible to search for a book in the public domain and not get a result. The website is simple and well-organized which makes it easy to navigate. Virtually every book imaginable that has come into public domain is available here. And with author's names being added to the public domain list every year, the options keep growing. I suspect with C.S. Lewis coming into public domain this year in Canada, it is just a matter of time before I see his writings being to appear on the site. Same goes for Beatrix Potter and Robert Frost.

I think the beauty of this website, however, is the myriad of voices you hear from all over the world. This is not just a site for avid audio book listeners, but for those who would be interested in "publishing" the oral reading of their favorite book. This is without remuneration or marketing. This is simply for the pure pleasure of reading a book aloud for someone else to enjoy. And for the listener, most of the popular books have more than one version to suit your taste.

Having a worldwide platform means that English is not the only spoken language available. Click on the "Language" tab and you will see a host of different languages. At a glance even languages like Urdu and Ancient Greek made the list! Imagine listening to Les Miserables by Victor Hugo in the original language. Okay well, if you don't speak and understand French, it might put you to sleep. But it's there for whenever you want to brush up on the language or just savor the sound of the writing in its original language.

Advertisement-free (except for self-promotion) and non-profit in nature, this project has something for everyone. Not everyone can read. But everyone has a language they use to communicate. And for those who love to narrate, there's even training and tips on how to contribute to the list. And if you can't imagine having to read an entire book aloud, there are collaborative projects available to get involved with. 

Some favorites:

A great mix of narration and wonderful British Accents for the speaking voices of the characters. This was my introduction to LibreVox.

If you're going to listen the Shakespeare, you can't beat listening to them with a British accent!

I couldn't help myself. I studied ancient Hebrew in grad school. I just had to hear the text read by a native speaker!

If you can't seem to decide on a book to listen to, try out the Librevox Podcast and follow along in the lastest audiobook offering. Currently running is a collaborative project of the book A Woman's Journey Around the World by Ida Laura Pfeiffer. They are currently on Chapter 30 out of 41 chapters.

Take a stroll through. Or if you have already discovered this wonderful project, and have some favorites of yours to share, send me a comment! You will save me from hours of sampling looking for that right reading that speaks as an artistic orator.

1 comment:

  1. Another one to experience. There is a dramatic reading of the book Emma by Jane Austen. They have casted every part including the narrator. Enjoy!