Why I Love Audio Books on CD

Once you are exposed to literature it can have a profound effect on you. The word ‘literature’ means familiarity with written letters. Throughout the course of my life I have studied and read the works of Dickens, Shakespeare and other great authors. Their work has made me appreciate the frailty of human nature as well as the reality that there are age old problems which depict quite well how the human drama unfolds.

When I was a child my parents purchased LP records which usually featured famous actors narrating or playing a part in a well known story. I cherish those memories as some of the richest ones in my life. It was my first exposure to the great classic works of literature. It was also great entertainment and provided many hours of great conversation with other family members.

Recently I was playing with my daughter and we were engaged in a sword fight straight from medieval times. As my daughter stabbed me with her plastic sword and I confronted my obvious fate I blurted out those famous lines from Hamlet. “To Be Or Not To Be, That Is The Question.” What struck me about this incident was the powerful effect these words had on my daughter. She listened quite intently to those lines like a musical conductor hearing an orchestra for the first time. Since that experience she has begun listening to great stories offered on audio books on cd.

I vividly recall listening in enthusiastically as Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn planned their adventures down the Mississippi. Or pondering the challenges of the Swiss Family Robinson as they were forced to learn and master the elements of survival on a deserted island. The stories were so vivid and powerful. They captured my imagination and taught me powerful moral lessons. But they were also just plain fun.

What is the best book you have ever read?
Chances are that same book is available as an audio book on cd.

While I wholeheartedly love reading books, in the past few years I have become a huge fan of audio books on cd. These books allow me to consume literature and powerful action adventures while I am driving my car or multi-tasking on some project. Besides the entertainment value they have made me appreciate how I spend my time. Where before I would just drive my car, today I can drive my car and listen to the entire works of a Pulitzer Prize winning author. Audio books on cd enrich my life in many ways.

The audio book market is a billion dollar a year market. The industry was founded in 1932 by Congress to help and assist blind to read. These programs were called the Talking Book Program and today cover every imaginable source of literature possible. There is a rich storytelling tradition embedded on audio books on cd. If you are interested in broadening your horizons and learning more I highly recommend that you start getting involved with audio books on cd.

Katherine Swynford by Alison Weir (Clipper Audiobook Edition)

Alison Weir is widely known for her historical fiction, but she researches and writes historical biographies as well. Inspired as a young woman by Anya Seton’s 1954 historical romance, Katherine, the popular novelist has always wanted to chronicle the lives of John of Gaunt and his long-term mistress and eventual third wife, Katherine Swynford. This book fulfills that dream. Despite its somewhat suggestive subtitle – “The Story of John of Gaunt and his Scandalous Duchess” – this book was not intended to paint a lurid portrait of a couple who defied the conventions of their era, although the course their match took was anything but typical. Weir wrote it to accord to Katherine the important place in history that Swynford deserves.

John of Gaunt (1340-1399) was a member of the House of Plantagenet. He was the son of Edward III of England and his wife, Philippa of Hainault. A man of power and substantial political influence, Gaunt (whose name comes from the fact that he was born in Ghent) was Duke of Lancaster and of Aquitaine. Katherine, of humbler origin, was governess to Gaunt’s children by his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster.

Gaunt fathered many children, both within and out of wedlock. Katherine Swynford bore him four of them, whom Gaunt acknowledged and supported and who were later legitimatized by the Pope upon the couple’s marriage in 1396. Gaunt’s ancestral line, both from his wives and his mistress, figured prominently in the War of the Roses. All British monarchs from Henry IV to present can trace their lineage back to John of Gaunt, and Katherine’s son, John, was the grandfather of Henry VII.

While records relating to Swynford are scant, those of Gaunt enable Weir to engage in enough intelligent speculation that a convincing portrait of Katherine does emerge from the text. Additionally, Swynford’s sister Philippa married Geoffrey Chaucer, which allows Weir, with her customary attention to detail, to expand the scope of the biography and explore the political and cultural life of the times.

British narrator Judith Boyd is an accomplished and highly experienced audiobook reader. She has recorded Ann Granger’s mysteries and many other unabridged works of fiction and non fiction. She has a clear, pleasant, near-musical voice to which a listener naturally would want to pay attention. Her affable and expressive narration keeps the text moving briskly and helps makes a complex period of British history more approachable.