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Listen up: Check out these apps for feed your reading addiction – jj
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Listen up: Check out these apps for feed your reading addiction

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(Scene: Daley, walking down the beach, phone and earbuds in her ears. Sees camera. Pulls out earbuds.)

Oh, hey, again. This week you caught me in another favorite pastime: reading in the summer sunshine.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Audiobooks are not “listening”—they are another form of true reading. And they have changed my life.

There is no more enjoyable way to pass the time — whether you’re laying on Horseneck Beach, strolling waterfront downtown New Bedford, or picnicking in Dartmouth or Fairhaven.

And there is no more soothing a balm for tired eyes at night than shutting off the light, and ear-reading a good story.

I don’t use the word the “listen” here, because that’s not quite accurate — when you read an audiobook, you’re doing more than listening.

You’re activating a specific, perhaps rarely used, part of your brain: the imagination.

You see the story in your head — especially when you have a good narrator — in a vein that’s a different from eye-reading. When you look at words, you’re interpreting them, subconsciously in your own tone and inflection, your own vision of the action.

But books — especially old classics — are completely new experiences entire when heard from a new voice, a different tone, a slightly different inflection.

And that’s what first hooked me on audiobooks.

I remember the first one I listened to with rapt attention about five years ago: Jane Austen’s “Emma.” A book I’d already read a couple times. But the narrator, Elizabeth Klett, did such a fantastic job, and spoke in inflections I’d never picked up on in my own reading, I felt I was experiencing a new story.

Audiobooks are so easy to access now with so many apps, I wanted to share them here with you. I use many iPhone/iPad apps:

Overdrive and Libby allow you to access free audiobooks from your SouthCoast library, direct to your phone/tablet.

Scribd allows free audiobooks and e-books for a monthly subscription, like Netflix. I love this app, but there are some titles I can’t find there, and they only allow so many new releases per month.

Libravox offers hundreds of free classics, but the narrators (all volunteers) aren’t always great. Three stellar narrators to look for on this app: Elizabeth Klett, Ruth Golding and T. Hynes (Tadgh.)

Apple iBooks now offers audiobooks — lots of bestsellers — for purchase.

Audible is the BMW of the bunch — you have to pay for each book and a subscription, but they have more current and new release audiobooks than any other app; the narrators are professional and outstanding (they even have a “Narrator Hall of Fame”) and they make their own Audible Original productions.

Must-listens: James Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” read by Colin Farrell, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” read by Jake Gyllenhaal, and Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” read by Claire Danes and a full cast.

Plus the audiobooks you buy are kept in your app’s library, just like songs on iTunes. I can’t tell you how much this app alone has changed my reading, and I can’t emphasize how good this app is. It makes reading better than movies.

These here aren’t audio-related, but two key apps for your phone or tablets: Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Nobel’s Nook. Lifesavers if you have a book started on your Kindle at home, and find yourself out somewhere with just your phone.

And a great app for Century Club Members: Bookly helps you keep track of the books you read, in a similar way to a Fitbit. You can enter in your goals, and it helps you stay on pace, like a coach for your brain. #ReadingGoals

Because — beep beep beep beep! — we are more than halfway to our SouthCoast BookLovers Century Club deadline!

Each year, I challenge SouthCoast BookLovers to read 100 books to make it into the BookLovers Century Club. Reading 50-99 gets you into the Half Century Club, and 25-49 earns you a spot in the Quarter Century Club.

Each year, this club — in all three tiers — grows bigger and better. Join us.

All you need to do is keep a list of the books you read, and e-mail me by Jan. 1. Boom, done. You’re in.

Also, I mentioned this last week, but if you have good book to share, e-mail me, and your recommendation will automatically be mentioned in an upcoming column.

I’ll be back with non-fiction recommendations to add to your lists.

For now, I’ll leave you with some must-listen audiobooks to get you started. If you’ve seen me down near Horseneck, or walking Westport beach roads, these are the last few titles I’ve audio-read. They were all on Audible, with one exception noted. Also note that many of these I’ve read as paper books, and loved as audiobooks.

“Galapagos,” by Kurt Vonnegut

“The Dharma Bums,” by Jack Kerouac

“The Night Tiger,” by Yangsze Choo

“Wuthering Heights,” by Emily Bronte (narrated Ruth Golding, Libravox.)

“Anna Karenina,” by Leo Tolstoy (Narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal)

“Leaves of Grass,” by Walt Whitman

“Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed.

“A Storm of Swords,” by George R. R. Martin

“Tinkers,” by Paul Harding

“Northanger Abbey,” by Jane Austen (read by Emma Thompson and full cast)

Have you read or audio-read a good book? Tell me about it, and you’ll be featured in an upcoming column. E-mail me, tweet or hit me up on Facebook.

 

Lauren Daley is a freelance writer and book columnist. Contact her at ldaley33@gmail.com. She tweets @laurendaley1. Read more at https://www.facebook.com/daley.writer.

 

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