Whether you’re passing the time on a long commute or powering through a boring novel you have to write a paper on, nothing beats the audiobook. Except of course…wait for it…if it’s a free audiobook. And you can get dozens of those at LibriVox.
LibriVox is an open source project where volunteers record themselves reading books within the public domain. These are then made available for free to anybody with an Internet connection. The LibriVox catalog includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and dramatic works. You can find anything from Shakespeare to Shelley to the Sermon on the Mount, so long as it’s not copyrighted anymore. And the nice thing about literature is so much of the good stuff was written a long time ago.
You too can join these novice narrators with just a microphone, some free audio recording software like Audacity, and lots of free time (you can also take the wussy way out by only signing up to read a chapter or two). In addition to letting students catch up on their reading on their iPods, having each student tackle a chapter of The Count of Monte Cristo might be a fun class project.
You’d think LibriVox would have a hard time scrounging up volunteers to record entire books, often an investment of dozens of hours. But if Web 2.0 has taught us anything, it’s to never underestimate people’s desire to hear themselves talk. –BILL FERRIS