[DWJ] Listers to the Rescue... Again

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Thu Aug 16 08:43:24 EDT 2007

On Thu, 16 Aug 2007, Aimee Smith wrote:
> I've gone and done something a bit rash: I've suggested to a local Aged Care 
> facility that if they want my services as a Person Who Reads Aloud, I'd be 
> interested.


> So: What can I use as a starting pool of books, which will appeal to a wide, 
> elderly audience and which will either contain nothing offensive or will be 
> easy to skip over the offensive bits?

I would definitely recommend against bowdlerizing as you go. For
one thing, it's entirely possible your listeners will be familiar
with the books and will be unhappy with your edits, and for
another thing if you pick your edits in real time you won't know
whether or not you are also skipping over parts which might make
the rest of the book make less sense. Not to mention that unless
the listeners agree in advance to adapted versions, it's not fair
to edit because of your discomforts. (I know that's weird,
because you're volunteering, but it's always a balance between
respect for the community being served and respect for the needs
of the volunteer.) For this reason, you should definitely only
pick books where you are comfortable reading aloud the entire

Some friends of mine who read aloud to each other actually stick
pretty much exclusively to young adult. They say young adult
novels work better as readalouds because they have more of a
tendency to be linear, plotty, and straightforward, so can be
followed easily in a read aloud environment that is broken up by
time and distractions. I would think that other genre fiction
would work well for similar reasons: chicklit, action adventure
thrillers, fantasy. (Obviously I can think of vast swathes of
genre fiction, including young adult fiction, that have complex,
non-straightforward, nonlinear construction -- though they do all
tend to be plotty. Keep in mind that I read pretty much
exclusively genre fiction, so this isn't an insult coming from
me. I feel I have to make this disclaimer because some people
think "genre", and particularly "chicklit" are dirty words.)

I wonder Sean Stewart's Mockingbird would work? I can't remember
how risque it gets, though.

I second the advice of whoever said "find out what's been
popular". It might be a community that hates fantasy, or that
loves romance novels, or adores Tom Clancy but no other action
books, or something like that.  It's entirely possible that your
community  can't stand literary classics but would adore Douglas
Adams, and the best way to find out is to ask.

I wonder if you can look on Amazon to see what the best-selling
audio books are?

"A grown man punting a kitten who was looking the other way... It
was the bravest thing I've ever seen."  -- Sluggy Freelance

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