When I was at school, we had a listening test once a week. The teacher read a short passage to us twice, then she read out questions for us to answer to check how well we had listened. I soon learnt how to do well at this. Instead of allowing my mind to wander, as most of us did regularly in class, I would keep my eyes on the teacher and clear my head so that I got every word. We also listened to novels read aloud and I recall my favourite time of the day being the fifteen minutes before home time when we were treated to another chapter, usually ending on a cliff hanger that engaged us in the wonderful world of fiction.
Listening to books has become a popular way to enjoy novels and although I am a reader, I love a well-read story to while away a long car journey or accompany a rather tedious practical task. A good narrator can bring a story to life and it’s also a chance to revisit books I read years ago.
Audiobooks are an amazing invention not only for visually impaired readers but for people who can’t read books because they aren’t physically able to hold a paperback or e-reader or have trouble reading due to dyslexia or brain injuries.
Everyone deserves to enjoy books, the escapism they offer, the chance to go to imaginary places and to share the events of a well-crafted plot with the characters. And if you have little ones, read to them and rediscover some of your childhood favourites!
I would recommend the following audiobooks for the clarity of the reading and the excellent narrative.
Escape from the Ghetto by John Carr – this is the author’s account of how, as a young boy, his Jewish father escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto and overcame incredible obstacles to make his way to England.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – how many versions of your life can you live? Nora Seed finds herself faced with an infinite number and the chance to try some of them out.
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams – As the 19th century draws to a close, three-year-old Esme sits under the table where her father is working on the first Oxford English Dictionary. The years it takes to complete are inextricably linked to Esme’s own life with deep-seated consequences.