(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.
Iâ€™ve said it before, and Iâ€™ll say it again: Audiobooks are not â€œlisteningâ€â€”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 donâ€™t use the word the â€œlistenâ€ here, because thatâ€™s not quite accurate â€” when you read an audiobook, youâ€™re doing more than listening.
Youâ€™re activating a specific, perhaps rarely used, part of your brain: the imagination.
You see the story in your head â€” especially when you have a good narrator â€” in a vein thatâ€™s a different from eye-reading. When you look at words, youâ€™re interpreting them, subconsciously in your own tone and inflection, your own vision of the action.
But books â€” especially old classics â€” are completely new experiences entire when heard from a new voice, a different tone, a slightly different inflection.
And thatâ€™s what first hooked me on audiobooks.
I remember the first one I listened to with rapt attention about five years ago: Jane Austenâ€™s â€œEmma.â€ A book Iâ€™d already read a couple times. But the narrator, Elizabeth Klett, did such a fantastic job, and spoke in inflections Iâ€™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 canâ€™t find there, and they only allow so many new releases per month.
Libravox offers hundreds of free classics, but the narrators (all volunteers) arenâ€™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 â€” lots of bestsellers â€” for purchase.
Audible is the BMW of the bunch â€” 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 â€œNarrator Hall of Fameâ€) and they make their own Audible Original productions.
Must-listens: James Joyceâ€™s â€œA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,â€ read by Colin Farrell, F. Scott Fitzgeraldâ€™s â€œThe Great Gatsby,â€ read by Jake Gyllenhaal, and Margaret Atwoodâ€™s â€œThe Handmaidâ€™s Tale,â€ read by Claire Danes and a full cast.
Plus the audiobooks you buy are kept in your appâ€™s library, just like songs on iTunes. I canâ€™t tell you how much this app alone has changed my reading, and I canâ€™t emphasize how good this app is. It makes reading better than movies.
These here arenâ€™t audio-related, but two key apps for your phone or tablets: Amazonâ€™s Kindle and Barnes & Nobelâ€™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 â€” beep beep beep beep! â€” 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 â€” in all three tiers â€” 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. Youâ€™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.
Iâ€™ll be back with non-fiction recommendations to add to your lists.
For now, Iâ€™ll leave you with some must-listen audiobooks to get you started. If youâ€™ve seen me down near Horseneck, or walking Westport beach roads, these are the last few titles Iâ€™ve audio-read. They were all on Audible, with one exception noted. Also note that many of these Iâ€™ve read as paper books, and loved as audiobooks.
â€œGalapagos,â€ by Kurt Vonnegut
â€œThe Dharma Bums,â€ by Jack Kerouac
â€œThe Night Tiger,â€ by Yangsze Choo
â€œWuthering Heights,â€ by Emily Bronte (narrated Ruth Golding, Libravox.)
â€œAnna Karenina,â€ by Leo Tolstoy (Narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal)
â€œLeaves of Grass,â€ by Walt Whitman
â€œWild,â€ by Cheryl Strayed.
â€œA Storm of Swords,â€ by George R. R. Martin
â€œTinkers,â€ by Paul Harding
â€œNorthanger Abbey,â€ by Jane Austen (read by Emma Thompson and full cast)
Have you read or audio-read a good book? Tell me about it, and youâ€™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 firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @laurendaley1. Read more at https://www.facebook.com/daley.writer.