I have awfully random ideas from time to time. Last October I was grabbed by a particularly odd one. I’d been having a little trouble sleeping and so went searching for solutions. Amongst well-meaning lectures about not drinking caffeine after noon (no, really?!) and advice about room lighting levels were some fascinating YouTube relaxation videos. Here’s an example. I found them more than a little creepy, and not especially restful. But among them were several readings of Edgar Allan Poe. It seemed like such a surreal choice to ‘relax’ to, before sleeping. And the sound quality varied massively, too. ‘Why, I could do better than that,’ I thought.
And thus the stage was set. The idea snuggled into the back of my brain and percolated a while. Eventually what popped out was the urge to record a simple book, perhaps something for children but not so babyish that adults wouldn’t want to listen. I mulled over several before settling on The Wind in the Willows. We have some lovely versions of this in the catalogue already, so I wasn’t ‘cheating’ anyone by producing something that might be of very limited appeal.
LibriVox recordings are sometimes described as “like a friend sitting in an armchair reading to you.” I think that’s a lovely way to convey the warm-hearted amateur approach of many of the recordings. It’s a different ‘feel’ to listening to a professional audiobook or radio broadcast. I speculate that perhaps many listeners haven’t had that experience and are only familiar with being read at — which is why they then take against our recordings so strongly. Anyway, that’s a different topic.
So, I am working on a whispered version of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In The Willows. I’m aiming for that ‘torch under the blankets’ reading atmosphere. Although it must be said, some of the chapters, especially ones containing weasels, are probably not as restful as I’d hoped. The vocabulary has sent me to the dictionary for pronunciations more than once! I’ve been round and round angsting about volume, breathing, pacing, mouth noise and so on, often fretting myself into immobility. I most heartily wish I’d chosen a shorter book to begin with. That could have been released much more quickly, gaining a little feedback and either confidence in recording a longer work, or confirmation that this is a rather silly idea and I should just bash on with Dante. As a mid-ground, then, I’m releasing some chapters via ge.tt and if anyone wants to download and listen they are most welcome. Feedback is also appreciated. You won’t be able to listen to this in a car or train, it is far too quiet, and that is by design. I don’t know if I’ll put all the chapters up due to space constraints … but the book will eventually be in the LibriVox catalogue, so a little patience is all that’s needed.
I’d especially like to hear whether anyone really does find this sending them to sleep (I tried listening late at night but only found myself critical of the pace) — and also if this triggers ASMR. I haven’t had that experience (and it’d be rather narcissistic to set it off in myself anyway! ;) But it seems commonly linked with whispering videos and so I’m rather interested.
Here’s the link for the chapters currently available:
UPDATE: Download the full book here — http://librivox.org/the-wind-in-the-willows-by-kenneth-grahame-3/ or listen to it online at archive.org.