Audio CD Books - For People That Hate To Read
By Gene Lyons
Some people hate to read but love literature. How's that for confusing? And frustrating, if you are trying to buy a Christmas, birthday, or other gift for this person. For example, I have a brilliant friend who is the Albert Schweitzer of computer programmers and developers.
It makes sense that working at a computer reading a screen ten hours a day lessens his interest in reading hard copy text. At the same time, he loves stories, comic tales, and intellectual comedy in general. And he is a devotee of NPR, Car Talk, and other radio talk programs. So the most logical and generous thing to do for him is buy him something that will talk to him, tell him tales, make him laugh: an audio CD book is the thing.
The audio CD book follows the print version exactly, and is [usually] narrated by one who has a traditionally appealing voice-by one who is a performer, a singer, or another kind of radio or television voice. So, for instance, my friend's audio CD book, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, doesn't lose anything in the "translation". Neither does the self-help book converted to audio, or the epic or longer work.
Also some printed books are just prime material for the conversion to audio CD books: books such as Foucault's Pendulum, written by the brilliant wordsmith Umberto Eco makes for a hypnotic experience when you are on a long road trip, love philosophy, and are compelled by the weaving of a mystery of sorts.
In the same respect, audio CD books are ideal for commuters, who can't tolerate the commercial interruptions of public radio, are ideal for the elderly or the blind, and provide great auxiliary learning tools for learners with visual, mental, or other learning differences that textual materials fall short for. In fact, in many states and provinces, volunteer and other organizations record books on tape for such needful ones, as do schools and institutions have programs wherein one can order a textbook [the rest of the class is using] to be made into an audio CD book.
Just be prepared, though, when seeking the perfect story or printed material on audio for that perfectly deserving friend: I am still looking [on ebay] for an audio copy of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and an audio version of the posthumous work of genius Jonathan Kennedy O'Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces. In the meantime, this Christmas my friend got the complete box set of Monty Python...which he has already delightedly emailed me about at great length, with transcribed clips for me to read while he listens.
Listening to audio CD books has been a pure pleasure for me. If you've never experienced it, you just don't know how enjoyable and relaxing it can be.
© 2007 Gene Lyons
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