Sites We Like: LibriVox
If you enjoy classics, or just old books, AND you like listening to audiobooks, LibriVox is a site you have to check out. Basically, it’s the audiobook version of Project Gutenberg, except it’s way better because:
If you know exactly what book you’re looking for, Project Gutenberg is great. But what if you’re in the mood for something, you just don’t know quite what? What if you’re longing to find an obscure diamond-in-rough (and what bibliophile isn’t hoping for that)? In that case, LibriVox is your friend because their website makes browsing and searching easy. You can browse by author, title, genre, language, or search by keyword. And since every book has to be read by someone, most books include a summary so you can decide if it sounds interesting or not.
Another great thing about LibriVox is there are tons of ways to access their audiobooks. You can download the file to your hard drive as a .zip or torrent, stream it from Internet Archive, subscribe to books in podcast format via iTunes or an RSS feed, listen to them on YouTube, or stream them from one of the LibriVox apps! LibriVox itself doesn’t manage these apps, but since they have an open platform developers can create apps for it. There are several available, but my personal favorite is by Theodore Book. Book’s LibriVox app is free and is available for both Android and Apple phones and tablets.
Tips for Getting Started on LibriVox
Because all the readers on LibriVox are volunteers, finding a good audiobook can sometimes be hit-or-miss. Here are some tips I’ve found useful when searching for audiobooks on LibriVox:
1. Search for recommendations
If you know someone who listens to audiobooks on LibriVox, ask them what books they’ve enjoyed. Or, browse the interwebz for recommended books and narrators. I personally love this LibriVox discussion thread on Goodreads.
2. Download the latest recording
Popular novels usually have multiple recordings. Generally speaking, I always download the newest one by default. I figure it was made because the previous recording offended someone’s literary sensibilities.
Of course, if you have the time you can always stream a few seconds from each audiobook to see which narrator you prefer. This is a good option with books so popular they’re pretty much constantly in production, like The Curious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Sherlock Holmes stories, or anything by Edgar Allan Poe.
3. Follow your favorite narrators
After you’ve been listening to LibriVox audiobooks for a while, you start finding narrators whose reading style is your jam. When that happens, you can go to the narrator’s LibriVox page and check out all the audiobooks they’ve worked on (for example, Book Riot’s own Amanda Nelson has narrated chapters from Tolstoy on Shakespeare and Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf). And since narrators—just like readers—tend to prefer particular authors and genres, this is a great way to discover books you might not have heard of before.
4. Stick with collaborative or solo projects
Some people like having different narrators every few chapters in an audiobook. Personally, I find it extremely disorienting and usually download only audiobooks with a single narrator. Try out a few collaborative and solo projects, decide which one you prefer, and then stick with it.
Do you also love LibriVox? Share some narrators or audiobooks you’d recommend in the comments!