In Praise of LibriVox

Some time ago my brother told me about an organization called LibriVox that offers countless audiobooks free of charge. And I did not check it out, because I have never been that crazy about audiobooks.

I do aerobics for my exercise. (Yes, we’re still on the same subject; stick with me.) The aerobics are okay, but after a while it can get very boring. For a long time I listened to music; then I tried a few podcasts. Then I had what was, for me, truly a novel thought:

Why not listen to audiobooks?

So, long after hearing about LibriVox, I finally made my way to www.booksshouldbefree.com, where I found LibriVox recordings of many books. I first listened to G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who was Thursday, because it had gotten snagged in my imagination and I was thinking of it anyway.

Yes, that’s how I started my adventure into audiobooks: With a book I had already read. After poking around Chesterton’s works, I decided to see what they had under the “science fiction” heading. Since then I’ve wandered back and forth between authors I’d never heard of and authors I’d already tried. I’ve listened to some good books, and one or two that disappointed me.

All books on LibriVox and Booksshouldbefree are out of copyright, and consequently, they’re old. The most contemporary books I’ve listened to are about fifty years old; the others are one hundred or more. On these sites I’m largely outside my normal selection. I browse through authors and titles, most unfamiliar, and just choose. Often enough I end up listening to books I would not have had the time or inclination to sit down and read.

And so LibriVox has expanded my horizons. The last book I listened to was The Diary of a Nobody, written by George and Weedon Grossmith in 1888-89. The book is now so old that it has become historically interesting, and it possesses a dry humor. But if I had seen it on a library shelf, I probably wouldn’t have set aside my normal reading for it.

LibriVox audiobooks have helped me in another way. I almost never listen to these books except while I’m exercising, but it has given me a whole new motivation to exercise. “If I exercise, I’ll get another chapter or two,” I think to myself now.

So here’s a word in praise of LibriVox – good for your mind and, under the right circumstances, good for your body, too.

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