Home>Services>For Book Lovers>Off Our Shelf>Off Our Shelf 2011>March 2011: Audio Books
|The Joy of the Talking Book……|
The Classic Talking Book
The Criminal Talking Book
The Romantic Talking Book
The Humorous Talking Book
| The Joy of the Talking Book……|
I was first introduced to the fabulous world of the talking book back in early 2001 when I joined Mornington Peninsula Library Service and was talked into “reading” the Harry Potter series on Talking Book. Right from the first chapter I was hooked on both Harry and the Talking Book.
To be able to relax in my car (my preferred place of listening) and listen to the narrator bring the characters to life was, and is, such a pleasure. As the Harry series progressed across the years I was constantly amazed that the narrator, Jim Dale, could bring each character jumping back to life – the characters unique voice shone as Jim’s voice resounded in the safety of my car. When Harry first caught that snitch, when Hermoinie used her wand and when Ron ate a snot flavoured Bertie Bott Jelly Bean, I giggled and felt completely at home – they were my old friends.
Much like a good book, a talking book has the power to pull you in and refuse to let you go. I have often been found sitting in my car hanging on every word of a talking book and then rushing into work because I simply had to know how a chapter would end. When engrossed in the Twilight series I would rush into the office after lunch to discuss what I had just heard with the girls who had already read the books.
Quite apart from being a great source of entertainment, Talking Books are an essential tool for the elderly and those with sight problems.
The History of Talking Books……
“Talking books” have been around since before the written word. Ancient bards and storytellers are one of the earliest examples of talking books and were the means by which knowledge was passed from generation to generation. More recently the tradition has existed amongst tribal nations and the lower classes of industrial societies who could not read or write.
The arrival of radio in the early 20th century allowed literature to penetrate households all over the world with the famous 1938 Orson Welles program War of the Worlds throwing America into panic when listeners thought they were hearing about an alien invasion of the earth rather than listening to a story.
Modern day talking books were first established in the US in the early 1930’s in a program called “Books for the Adult Blind”. Reproduction machines enabled the process of mass production which, over time and with advances in technology, helped to establish the popularity of talking books. So much so that the Audie Awards, the Oscar’s of the talking book industry, were established in 1996.
Talking books are key tools to keep the aged and vision impaired connected and they can play a role in child literacy. They preserve the tradition of oral storytelling and have been used to teach children to read and increase reading comprehension (such as the Read-A-Long talking books in our junior and teenage collections). All in all they are a very good thing.
My History with Talking Books….. And the Libraries Future
My earliest recollection of talking books goes back to the 1970’s and the 33-1/3 vinyl record and picture book combinations. I can still remember the sound of Tinkerbell telling me to “turn the page” so I guess it’s no surprise that I should be so enamoured with talking books today.
Over the year I have done all the formats: as mentioned Tinkerbell introduced me to the big block disks of vinyl; later in my teenage years I marvelled on the cassette that I could take to my own room. The digital age has brought even more portable formats, CDs and the walkman and later, the mp3 file and mp3 players, and now the iPad. The Library has kept up with this format evolution. Currently available in CD format is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The God Delusion; many books by Bryce Courtenay and Maeve Binchy and many, many, many Agatha Christie. Recently the library has introduced a completely standalone format. Playaways come in a device about the size of a tic tac container. All the reader has to do is put in batteries and plug in headphones and you are ready to travel. There is a nice mixture of classic and popular fiction titles available in this format. Check them out next time you are at the library.
Soon too the library will be purchasing audio books that you can download onto your computer or other device such as an iPad, iPod or other mp3 player. Watch out later in 2011 for this new digital service.
How to Enjoy Your Talking Book
I have always enjoyed my talking books in the car, but the beauty of being able to listen is you can take it anywhere and do other things while you are “reading” – multitasking if you like. Try reading while you are doing one of the following – bet you can’t with a print book in hand!
Whatever you do, I don’t recommend you listen to your talking book in bed. I tried it once while on holiday and fell asleep and it took me ages the following day to figure out where the story was up to when I dropped off!
- taking a bath
- walking the dog
- jogging or working out
- driving to work (my personal favorite)
- Using public transport
Some of my favourite talking books:
My guilty pleasure is to listen to ChickLit in the car. While I enjoy reading a good murder mystery or legal thriller that will challenge my brain I find that audio ChickLit relaxes me, makes me laugh and helps to set me up for the day ahead.
What am I listening to right now:
One of the only elements I need to think about with talking books is that the narrator or reader of the book can very much influence my enjoyment of the story. Personally I find that I don’t enjoy American readers and prefer to listen to either an Australian or British voice, although I do find it disturbing to hear an older sounding voice using vulgar language and talking about sex!!! And my apologies to all those purists out there but I prefer the Harry Potter books when they are read by Jim Dale not Stephen Fry! Humphrey Bower is an Australian reader that I do enjoy listening to.
- Awakened by PC and Kristen Cast - book 8 in the House of Night series
Whatever your reading preferences or interests there is a talking book for you, so come on in to Our Library and give a talking book a go.
Tanya is the Libraries, Arts and Culture Support Officer. She can often be seen around the office with headphones on.
|The Classic Talking Book|
|The Criminal Talking Book|
|The Romantic Talking Book|
|The Humorous Talking Book|