Ever since I was a kid, I have loved listening to the radio. And from that I developed a fascination for listening to audiobooks on tape and CD later in life. I like to listen to news read by good newscasters and stories read by excellent elocutionists. It is an enchanting world worth every bit of its taste. Audiobooks not only convey the stories themselves, but they introduce you to the voice personality of the reader as well. Recently, there is a trend of the authors reading their own books, so you get to know them more ‘personally’. Reading a book is great, but listening to tapes has its own charm too. On a Sunday, you can sit on a chair, put your feet up on your bed and listen. You can plug in earphones of a walkman and carry your favorite ‘books’ with you on the train. You can do it while watching the sun rise or set! If you are sitting by a small river, the chirping of birds, the sound of the flowing water, or the crickets do not sound out of place in the background of a narration. Try it! It can only add to the beauty of the experience. Recently, I went for a walk to the port nearby and gazing at the vast expanse of the blue pacific ocean, I listened to a tape of The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (read by Donald Sutherland). When the reflection of the sun on the water hurt my eyes, I closed them and could vividly visualize the old man on the water in his skiff looking for his fish. I also listen to movies I like by playing the DVD while solving crossword puzzles. When you are watching your beloved movie for the umpteenth time, you know the scenes by heart. There is no need to look at the screen. You can listen and visualize. I also listen to audio tapes of Japanese novels, Rakugo and tongue twisters. Once I listened to the story Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies) on a lonely summer night while looking at fireflies flying around the bushes near a small stream.
The same book read by a different person could well be a different experience altogether.
My favorite audiobooks? You could start with Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson). Read by Jasper Britton. A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens). Read by Goeffrey Palmer. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand). Read by Christopher Hurt. The Conscience of a Liberal (Paul Krugman). Read by Jason Culp. Or, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (read by the author himself). I am sure you’ll find out your own taste pretty soon!
Postscript: Language learners/ students could benefit immensely through creative listening.