Early April 2011: Anticipating hundreds of hours of potentially maddening silence ahead of me while cycling the length of Japan, I decided that music simply wasn’t going to cut it for the whole ride. Although a few phat beats are great to get into gear early in the morning (I hope you caught that cycle related pun), somewhere around day 10, I expected my brain would need something of more substance than the Allman Brothers. I had read stories about cyclists slowly losing their minds as the hours of blacktop rolled by. To avoid this unfavorable fate, I decided to investigate my options.
Long story short, audiobooks by Librivox were the answer. Although I had allowed myself a generous $100 budget to find some quality material, in the end I didn’t end up spending a single cent. The Librivox web site explains:
LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books.
I couldn’t believe it at first either. Suddenly all that saddle time started looking a lot more valuable. Not only that, but this discovery has since revamped how I view travel. Even now, I feel like I have discovered the El Dorodo of the Internet. Long flights, boring car rides, and even lay overs are now great opportunities to digest hundreds of classic books by captivating authors (my favorite is Jules Verne). The audio files are completely free to download and distribute. It’s rare to find an organization on the Internet who isn’t obsessed with signing up new users or profiting through advertising or affiliate links, but LibriVox is truly doing this for the benefit of society without a thought to monetary reward. There isn’t even a place to register on the site, this is madness!
When all was said and done, the total pedal time of the trip reached just over 175 hours over 43 days. If you put it all together, that’s over a week straight of being alone on a bicycle. Along the way I read Around the World in 80 days and a good deal of In Search of the Castaways. If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to check out the extensive library of free audiobooks at LibriVox.org. Also, BooksShouldBeFree.com is a fantastic site that has collected the LibriVox cannon into more easily browsed layout.
My Top 12 Free Audiobook Picks
(click covers to download)
Lead image by Finding Josephine
Lastly, was this article helpful? Please let me know in the comments what you thought and what you’d like to read more of.