Listen to Any Good Books Lately?

October 29, 2007 · Posted in audio, Tools 

Today’s post points to a variety of free online audio resources. These resources can provide valuable primary and supplemental tools for teaching and review as well as links to research materials for students.

LibriVox is the mother-of-all free audiobook resources on the ‘Net. Nearly 1000 titles are available, all searchable by title, author, category, and genre. Most of the classics are here as well as many modern and contemporary essays. Files are available in mp3 or ogg vorbis formats. Where available, links are provided to text versions (e.g., from Project Gutenberg) of the material. All recorded books are in the public domain in the US, and all are read by human readers. There is an RSS feed available to alert you when new materials are added, and you can even volunteer to be a reader.

Project Gutenberg Audio Books
Known mostly for its vast array of public domain print books, Project Gutenberg also offers many of its titles as audiobooks. Entries are read by human readers (or by synthesized voices; see below) and are available in many different audio formats, including mp3, m4b (iTunes/iPod), and ogg vorbis. Project Gutenberg no longer adds synthesized books to its library, preferring instead to use human readers, but they are migrating to an “on demand” service for delivering synthesized text to visually-impaired individuals. My favorite feature of PG is the full-text search capabilities, allowing the reader to search for occurrences of words or phrases within the texts themselves. Of course, PG also supports searching by author, title, etc.

Free Classic Audiobooks
This site offers a limited range of titles (around 60), but the offerings are compelling–from Huckleberry Finn to Alice in Wonderland to Shakespeare’s Sonnets to Notes from the Underground to the 911 Commission Report. Roughly half are read by humans; the remaining titles using an “advanced” synthesized speech that is quite understandable. All titles are available in mp3 format and in m4b format for iPod or iTunes. Books are segmented into chapters for easier downloading or downloading of specific chapters (great for review purposes). I love throwing these on my iPod for long car rides. They also make great review items for high school British and American literature classes.
This web site is a portal to thousands of online books, lectures, podcasts, and videos on a wide variety of topics. Some are for purchase, but LearnOutLoud offers a directory of hundreds of free audio and video resources arranged by topic, including Arts, Literature, Science, and Language. (Scroll down the page to find the free directory.) Items in a topic can be sorted in several ways, including alphabetically, by author, or by title popularity.


One Response to “Listen to Any Good Books Lately?”

  1. ice on December 1st, 2007 4:51 am

    Nice. Thank you for the links… I’m an audiobook fan.. 😀

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