Listening to a book on the road...
... is a very different experience than reading the text as printed on paper, and different yet again than reading it on a screen.
I recently listened to a novel in audio form, and was struck by how engaging it was to hear every word without skipping forward (horrors!) or misreading a line (which has happened before). What a surprise! I highly recommend the experience to you.
To help me with finding more great novel to read, I posed three Challenges for the week. Here they are, with a few answers and comments.
1. Is there a simple way to find free audible versions of classic books? (Such as Treasure Island, Catch-22, or The Return of Sherlock Holmes.) What's your method of finding these?
The simplest way, naturally, is to search for the book title:
[ Treasure Island Stevenson audio ]
You might want to add in the author's name if you get a bunch of alternative hits ("Treasure Island" generates a LOT of non-novel results), and maybe add in "audio" to find the text in audible format. When you do that, you'll find a variety of sources. Here's the list I culled from a few searches for different books.
A. YouTube: You'll usually find the audio on YouTube, but you'll also (often) see an audio book from LibriVox (example: Treasure Island on LibriVox). As they say, they're dedicated to "acoustical liberation of works in the public domain.")
Of course, downloading the YouTube audio is a bit tricky. Legally, if you have a YouTube Premium subscription, downloading audio from YouTube is just fine. Of course, if you download copyrighted audio, you won't have rights to reuse it--just for personal use.
There are a list of ways to download audio from YouTube (see this site for the how-to). I don't like downloading random apps from the internet.
B. LibriVox: I prefer to download novels by using a free site like LibriVox. The downside of LibriVox is that sometimes different chapters are read by different readers, which is sometimes a jarring thing if the first few chapters are read by one distinctive voice, and the last few are read by another, differently distinctive voice. But they've got a lot of titles, and they're free.
C. Internet Archive: Worth knowing that the LibriVox collection is backed up by the Internet Archive. You can access the IA files here.
D. FindAudioBook: A pretty good collection of books, but no apparent way to download the sound files.
E. Your local library: Many (most?) libraries in the US offer a number of audio books for checkout. I'd love to say this is easy, but easy library seems to have a different audio book vendor, and each implements their checkout procedures in a somewhat different way. Here's what I see at my local library. It's available via Overdrive and hoopla. (And naturally, it's a problem for me because I can't download it because my MacOS is too new... they only support 10.4 - 10.16, and I'm on MacOS 13.4. sigh.)
So it's often a hassle. Still, it's the best deal around, and you can often get the latest books (including best-selling novels). You just might have to download a reader app that works with your library's system.
2. Do you know of a public repository of less common books that would also allow you to download the audio files? (Books like The Autobiography of Mother Jones.)
Surprisingly, less common books ("Autobiography") are just as easily discoverable as more common books.
If you've got a REALLY uncommon book, you might consider using one of the new text-to-speech systems. I did a quick test using NaturalReader.com to read a short passage from the intro to The Joy of Search. Take a listen to this text-to-speech sample video I made--it's pretty good! (Of course, it currently doesn't know how to do character voices, which is something that makes human readings so wonderfully vibrant. Maybe in a few years...)
Of course, to do a full book will require paying some money. It's not a free service... yet.
3. My cousin in Stockholm recommended I listen to a book that she really liked: Män som hatar kvinnor. But I can't find an audio version of that title in English. Can you find one?
This was actually pretty straight-forward. Just searching for this title:
[ Män som hatar kvinnor ]
tells me that this book is titled "Men Who Hate Women" in Swedish, but is entitled "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" in English. As we saw above, probably the best way to get this in audio form is to check your local library and work it through them. (But check the other options as well. I note that FindAudioBook has an audio copy available, although LibriVox and Internet Archive do not.)
1. There are multiple sources for free audio books (YouTube, LibriVox, Internet Archive, FindAudioBook, and your local library). Remember these when you go researching. (There are many others as well, e.g., OpenCulture, but mostly they point to LibriVox or Spotify recordings, which are already covered by these sources).
2. TextToSpeech readers are an option, especially if you already have access to the text, and nobody has recorded it. I'm thinking here of articles and books that were born digital, or have an online version. Think about the Story of Paul Boyton or the Letters of Paul Boyton. (This is from an earlier SRS post about Boyton.
Keep Searching... the answer is out there.