Sherlock Holmes and Huckleberry Finn

2010-03-23

in Books and literature, Geek stuff, Internet matters, Writing

During the past week or so, I listened to my first two audiobooks ever. Previously, I had been quite skeptical. To me, podcasts and the like seem to require too much concentration for use when doing anything complicated, but to not really be engaging enough to hold your attention when you are doing nothing else.

Both issues have been problematic sometimes, when listening to the free copies of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that I got from the excellent iTunes U section of Apple’s music store. I sometimes had to rewind (what an anachronistic term!) and re-listen when something distracted me. Much more rarely, I found the contents insufficiently engrossing, though Ernest Hemingway is surely correct to say that the last few chapters of Huckleberry Finn are a severe disappointment.

Both books are part of the University of South Florida’s Lit2Go collection, and they are well (though I think not professionally) read. Each is read by a single person, without much attempt made at voices or radio-play style effects. I found that both books lent themselves well to this treatment, owing perhaps to their relative simplicity and the charming datedness and foreignness of the voices in them. The books can be downloaded here and here, as well as through iTunes.

I doubt that the audiobook treatment would be as well suited to something really complex and intellectual, of the sort where you frequently need to make notes or refer back and forth through the book. Nonetheless, the audiobook medium does seem like a good one for the casual enjoyment of relatively light fiction.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Byron Smith March 24, 2010 at 7:32 am

Have you heard about LibriVox? http://librivox.org/
It’s a site that provides free audiobooks in the public domain. Volunteers read them and you can then download the recording for free (or contribute a recording yourself). The quality varies (as would be expected), but I’ve heard that on average it is not much worse than the also variable quality of commercial recordings. They have a significant catalogue already recorded and it keeps growing.

Milan March 24, 2010 at 8:26 am

Thanks for the link. I will certainly have a look.

Lit2Go has two other Sherlock Holmes books available: The Return of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Milan March 24, 2010 at 9:41 am

Here’s something rather Holmesian: HOWTO spot a handgun, the beautiful information edition

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