Yes, I’d rather read a good book than match socks. Surprise. Sadly, donations aren’t rolling in for the household Maid, Cook, and Butler Endowment (blame it on the poor economy cutting into charitable giving) and the chores refuse to do themselves (slackers). So, combining the two options, it’s nice listening to a good book while working around the house. Librivox.org is a website of free downloadable book recordings (all strictly legal), read by volunteers and catalogued online for anyone to use.We don’t have an iPod or other kind of MP3 player, but the laptop is easy to plop down in whichever room I’m working.
The experience so far? It’s a great resource if you’re willing to search a bit for the right book. The readers aren’t professional, so the recording quality varies. A few readers are terrible, many are fine but unremarkable, and a few are really talented and bring the books to life. A book on the exploration of the Colorado River read in a nasal monotone lasted all of three minutes. I tried both versions of Anne of Avonlea to find a good reader while stripping wallpaper in the bathroom. That’s about ten years late catching up on “Anne” reading, but Anne’s overall girliness was too much for an elementary school tomboy. Her “kindred spirit” I am not.
Lately I’ve listened to G.K. Chesterton’s Charles Dickens biography while building screens for windows and folding laundry. Multiple readers collaborated to complete this book, each reading a chapter here or there. The chapter breakdown to date: two excellent, a couple pretty good, and one agonizing (a woman with a strong New Yawwk accent mauling every English town on the map).
The two best things about librivox are 1) the huge selection (a search on G.K. Chesterton turns up close to 40 works), and 2) it’s free. You can give it a try here. You may also like our other favorite (free, legal) online entertainment source over at pandora.com. We have about a dozen channels range from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Gregorian Chant.