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Talking books

For people who have access to the internet, there are lots of books and readings available for free. A lot of these are actually illegal as people post commercial productions on the internet, but there are plenty of legal ones as well. A huge collection of books, poetry, essays, short stories etc. are available at:


The books are read by volunteers, and the aim is to put up readings of everything ever published that is no longer under copyright!

Another collection is available at: http://www.archive.org/details/audio_bookspoetry

and yet another at:


(project gutenberg also has recordings of books read by computer, but this link takes you to their human-read ones).

and lastly another at:


There is some overlap between these collections, and I find the librivox collection easiest to search through.

Another internet source of talking books is podcasts. Some people just like reading, and so read something onto the internet at regular intervals. My personal favourite is Maria Lectrix (http://marialectrix.wordpress.com). She podcasts six days per week, with a different theme for each day. She usually has a science fiction book on the go and another fiction book as well as various religious texts. Her website will also link you to other people who also podcast. I tried various people's podcasts before I found one where the reader's tastes and mine generally coincided so I was likely to enjoy the majority of the offerings - so do persist until you find one that suits you.

Finally, the internet is also your gateway to overseas and historic radio broadcasts. The BBC has a radio station that exclusively broadcasts fiction (radio plays, comedy shows, book readings etc.) and you can listen to any show from the previous week at:


The only downside to this website is that you can't download the shows first and listen to them later, so this will only be practical if you have a broadband internet connection.

I am a huge fan of Orson Wells radio plays from the 1930s, and there is a large collection of these available at:


I'm not sure how legal they are, though.

And lastly I really enjoy a weekly environmental radio show from the US called 'Living on Earth' - available at:


If you don't have access to the internet, your local library should have a selection of talking books available. Here in Auckland, each branch of the library has a small selection, but they cycle the books around between the branches so there are always more books to try. Having been using them for four years now, however, it is getting harder and harder for my husband to find ones that I haven't read and that there is some chance I will enjoy!

The library charges a fee to borrow talking books. However, at least in Auckland, you can get this fee waived if you have a medical condition that prevents you from using regular books. Ask the library for the form and then take it to your doctor for them to fill in. This also exempts you from overdue fines as the library understands that those who can't read for themselves may also be dependent on others to return their books, so it may not be your fault if they're late!

And lastly, if you don't have access to a public library or the internet, contact the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind on 0800 24 33 33. I don't know if they would extend their services to sighted people, but they do have an extensive library of talking books which they loan out to people through the post.

July 2007