July, 2011

Happy Birthday Librivox !

Posted on July 31, 2011 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: 15 Comments on Happy Birthday Librivox !

Librivox’ 6th Birthday is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the most important part of it: Our readers! And that it’s all about equality on here is proven by the fact that our top 10 praised readers during the last year are 5 men and 5 women.

Ladies first:

Elizabeth Klett, professor of literature, expert knitter and drama editor, switches effortlessly between BE and AE. Her wonderful reading of Jane Eyre is the top downloaded solo at the moment.

Another Bronte sister makes the top 10, this time read by a real Brit. Ruth Golding from beautiful Kent delights listeners from librivox and iambik alike with her aristocratic style. Enjoy as she reads Wuthering Heights to you.

Pride and Prejudice has several librivox versions, in fact, it’s the book that attracted the most soloists! All of them are lovely, but our listeners seem to enjoy the one read by Karen Savage the most.

Kara Shallenberg – librivox member, reader and admin of the first hour – is quite into children’s literature. And, given the constant praise for her recording of The Secret Garden, kids of all ages love listening to them.

Not quite so present in the forums as our four admins above is Mil Nicholson. However, her sensitive readings deservedly place her in our top 10 praised readers. Her most appreciated recording is Dombey and Son.

And now for the gentlemen: 

Mark F. Smith from Simpsonville South Carolina, is certainly our reader with the largest variety in his catalog, and he received thanks for the largest number of different books last year. A fine example of his variety in inventing charcter voices is his reading of Great Expectations.

John Greenman is Mark Twain. Or at least the voice of his books on librivox. Nothing but reading Twain’s full oevre is the goal here, from the most obscure letters to newspapers to the best known masterpieces like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Another man with preferences, this time for a genre, is Mark Nelson. Pulp and Science Fiction of the 50s and 60s is what he enjoys most. Maybe he should consider a slight change in his preferences though, as our listeners most praised his reading of Right Ho, Jeeves.

The catalog of Adrian Praetzellis is also impressive – and only with a slight bend towards Jewish literature of all times and several languages! The spy-mystery The 39 Steps is our listeners favourite reading of his.

The last reader in this list is exceptional. He has the least number of recordings of al the people in the top 10. However, one of his 2 solos consistenly keeps drawing comments like “I would not have been able to appreciate the depths of this book in any other way”. The most praised librivox recording of all our 6 years is Stewart Wills’ recording of Moby Dick.

Only 10 readers are placed before the curtain here. But all our readers deserve praise – whether they made 2000 recordings or a single one. All of you made librivox what it is today – you ARE librivox!

Happy 6th Anniversary!


Thoughts of a Reader

Posted on July 28, 2011 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, For Volunteers, News, Uncategorized | Comments: 5 Comments on Thoughts of a Reader

One of our newer readers writes in the forum:

On the nature of audio books and “reading”

I am fairly new to the world of audio books and very new to reading within Librivox. The bother of keeping track of stacks of CDs, which might scratch if not handled with care, and the equipment one might have to tote to listen to them always kept me at a distance from that activity (shudder the thought of cassette tapes!). About a year ago our library started to offer MP3 audio books, downloadable on the Internet, and so began my journey into listening rather than reading. I now have come to appreciate how lucky I am to be a reader/listener and now so many years later, the enjoyment seems to increase while other things…well, they do not.

From my perspective, the experience of listening to an audio book starts with the intimacy. It is as though the author were speaking to me of secret, often personal things, back from countless years ago, on a one to one level; the author is here now with me, just me, to tell the wonderful story of long, long ago. The teller has no thing to be gained except my enjoyment of the eloquence, of what he or she has to tell me, at my beck and call, day or night. There is a solitude in this intimacy, one soul in touch with another. It is a fine thing to read, but the walls of the chamber are echoic and sometimes not so reliable. When I am listening all is made quiet, but the author speaking to me. I mostly walk in the mornings to listen and eventually start to feel my legs grow heavy, only then to notice that I have been out over two hours and begrudge the need to rest and go back. It is so wonderful to escape the cacophony.

Of course, the reader of an audio book is there and, in my view, their sole occupation should be to interpret the work and become the author for the listener. A digital device, saying each word as the electronic signal is received, can easily accomplish the saying of individual words without interpretation. But the interpretation of the words, including what has passed and what is yet to come in the script, is so far beyond any digital talent as to be unworthy of discussion. Most audio devices are used to listen to music, most times a product that comes forth from a sophisticated studio employing multiple people and the breathless world of electronic enhancement. A reader, on the other hand, stands fairly alone, having to interpret difficult text sometimes and then deliver a fairly accurate rendition without additional explanation. The saying of the words needs to be accomplished, but their meaning has to be presented too. I think this is best done through pace, tone and pause, but only after the reader is acquainted with the message of the passage and of the work. The unstated presence of fear, humor, melancholy, joy, love, hate etc all need to accompany the saying of the words. Unlike the musician, there are few (if any) knobs to adjust in doing this and volume can be used so sparingly as to be pretty useless (unlike some musicians apparently).

I should enjoy hearing from others on these points and if this is all old hat, why, I do hope that I will be excused. One last point: all the above is subject to my 80/20 rule; i.e. this is true only about 80% of the time, and otherwise not!

This has stimulated a heartfelt discussion on the topic, which you can read here. We welcome your thoughts too!


Sorry – the forum is down – and back up!

Posted on July 5, 2011 by | Posted in about LibriVox, For Volunteers, News, on the web, site & admin | Comments: 8 Comments on Sorry – the forum is down – and back up!

From 08:40 GMT July 5th: Regrettably, it appears that the secure server where the forum lives is currently down again.

We will get it functioning again as soon as possible, and apologise for the inconvenience.

The catalogue server and downloads are unaffected.

EDITED TO ADD: Apologies for the latest outage, which was caused by a problem related to changing DNS providers. It is now back up, and the problem should soon resolve for everyone if it hasn’t done so already.



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