Still reading a book? Trying hearing them

A young girl looks through books during the 18th Delhi Book Fair at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. (Photo bySanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times)

Publisher: Reado
Price: Varies with books.
Starts Rs. 199 onwards.

Many of us harbour sweet childhood memories of hearing our granny tell us stories from Panchatantra. Listening to audio books (also known as books on tape), was akin to that experience. Audio books are similar to the grand oral tradition of storytelling.

The person reading out the story holds a significant place. Hearing the text read by a good reader can be a real pleasure. Rashid Raza is the reader for most of the audio books, published by Reado, and not without good reason. Raza’a voice, apart from being crystal clear, has a rich baritone that is immensely attractive. Voice modulation is very important. And, in Amish’s Immortals of Meluha and Khushwant Singh’s The Company Of Women, the scenes comes alive. The book, I believe, is read out ad verbatim. What elevates the experience is the presence of a background score. For instance, when Shiva is fighting warring parties, a strong background score gives the scene the much-needed drama. This makes the fiction novel seem like a play on radio.

That’s perhaps what makes audio reading so interesting. In non-fiction, there is less scope for drama, so voice modulation becomes very important. In Rashmi Bansal’s Connect The Dots, the reader, Sameera Ranjan, is over-dramatic in some places but in others, her emphasis keeps the audio interesting. With audio books, mundane tasks like commuting or working out can become entertaining or even educational experiences.


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