Great Expectations (audio)

Great Expectations
was my first serious attempt at an audio book. I now have a long commute (more than an hour on the way home) and I decided something had to be done to make the time pass. I had my doubts. First of all, I’ve never liked being read to and that’s why I had never listened to an audio book all the way through before. More particularly, I once tried to read Great Expectations and was enjoying it so little that I bailed about a third of the way through. But I’m trying to live outside the box these days so I decided to give it a chance.

This was a great recording. Mark Smith, from Simpsonville, North Carolina, as he said at the start of each chapter, was a very skillful reader. With his help, I saw the humor I had missed on my last attempt at reading the book. I had no trouble following along and I really looked forward to the time I spent listening to it. My only complaint about the book was that the ending entailed having everyone conveniently die and all problems disappear in a puff of fortuitous smoke. But it was such a tangled web that I can’t imagine how Dickens could have untangled it any other way.

My only complaint about the audio book was that I didn’t know how to resume playback mid-chapter or fast forward or reverse within a chapter, so that limited me severely to listening to a chapter at a time, some of which were half an hour long. Since then, I’ve learned on the internet how to control my MP3 player better. I now know that if I turn the device off (rather than pause the track and let the device shut itself off from inactivity), then it does resume where I left off. This is so exactly the opposite of what you might expect that I’d never have guessed it myself.  I also learned that if I hold down the FF or REV buttons, instead of just pushing them, it forwards and reverses within the track as opposed to just moving to the next track. These are both very useful pieces of information. I thought I was going to have to buy some expensive MP3 player instead of my cheapo $14 one.

Lastly, Librivox is a great resource. I’m listening to another audio book now and the reader isn’t as good as Mark Smith, but all the books are free and easily downloaded without DRM in MP3 format. It’s only books in the public domain, obviously, but there are quite a few and this way I don’t have to worry about library policies or using iTunes or any other proprietary software. I’m quite happy with the solution.

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