Rachel writes: “Acoustical liberation”

It’s a delight to be read to.

This past week, I’ve been listening to (in addition to reading, of course–listening is no substitute for reading) recordings of some of the works on the reading list in my literature seminar, as a kind of supplementary experience.

I use a Web site with free access, called Librivox–all of its recorded books are in the public domain.

Hearing a text, especially after having read it, I’m surprised to discover, is quite a different experience from reading it–it allows you to sense certain aspects of it from different angles. You notice cadences and rhythms, pace and tone more acutely, for example. Your sympathies for certain characters in the narrative begin to shift. The reader’s personality seeps through, and somehow you associate the text with her and her voice, though you’ve never met.

I listen while working at my computer in my office; you can also download podcasts and listen while commuting to work or to class.

Listening to a text is a great way to re-focus and scrutinize it a bit more deeply.

Here’s a link to a small sample audio file, from Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”


  1. Posted September 10, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    thanks for your post! I got Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” a few weeks ago from there, which is actually great wisdom for strategy in business and even everyday situations. The site has so much to offer.

  2. Posted September 10, 2009 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Great post. I listen to texts often, and love it too. If you have an Apple computer, there is a useful option in the “System Preferences” call “Speech” that will allow you to turn any typed text into an audio book. This is especially helpful when writing papers, since you can have your paper read back to you and catch errors in word usage that are missed by the spell check. 🙂

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