Best books to read aloud - suggestions!

In a recent newsletter, Robin Sloan discussed his love for “single-session readaloud books” — he’s done an amazing live reading of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight two years running, and will be reading the Denis Johnson novella Train Dreams tomorrow — and posed the question of what other books might fit the bill:

Anyway, I have loved doing these live readings, so I want to do them more often. Finding material that fits the format, however, is an interesting puzzle – and I invite your suggestions.

If you’re reading this on or before Sunday, August 4, 2019, at 11am PT / 2pm ET — you should absolutely tune in and check out Robin’s live reading here:

To the question of what books would make for great read aloud experiences — I looked through my favorite books and came up with a few suggestions! Here’s my reply; I’d love to hear any you think of as well! Maybe we can arrange some Antilibraries live readings at some point :slight_smile:

First that comes to mind — I think Calvino could be a lot of fun, either Invisible Cities or Cosmicomics:

Probably too long for one session, but Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, one chapter at a time, could be lovely:

Ursula Le Guin’s “nonliteral, poetic rendition” of the Tao Te Ching seems like it would be amazing to read aloud:

This one’s very short, and very interesting — 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, With More Ways gives “a close reading of different translations of a single poem from the Tang Dynasty”:

And — supremely impractical — but my pick for the longitudinal study version of a live reading club would no doubt be…

Finally, I think my top suggestion, almost designed for this format, would be Christian Bök’s Eunoia, “an avant-garde work in which each chapter uses only one vowel, creating a text that fluctuates between poetry and prose”:

Honestly this last one would be so fun I just might have to do it myself! I remember reading bits of it during class in a college writing workshop and it being a ton of fun, both hilarious in its tongue-twistiness and subject matter excess, and dazzling in its feats of constrained writing acrobatics.

I like the way both invisible cities and cosmicomics could be read by a group too - taking it in turns to read the stories

Oh yeah a group reading seems like a lot of fun! Reminds me, someone mentioned the New Bedford Whaling Museum does an annual Moby Dick Marathon — “25-hour nonstop public reading” where something like 150 people take turns reading passages. Sounds like a number of museums do something similar.

For certain classics with notably beautiful language there are also more definitive recorded readings (collaborative efforts with ensemble cast of readers, so different from an audiobook). Two examples:

But I do think there would be something special about a single session group live reading of a shorter thing, with a roomful of friends, no recording/broadcast just everyone present together…could be a nice complement to a dinner party or something.

The Train Dreams reading I mentioned above was quite nice. Ran for around 2.5 hours with a few short breaks. Kind of a dreamy novella to begin with, I started watching the video but mostly it was pleasant to just relax on the couch and close my eyes and listen.

Afterwards I read a few passages from Eunoia and timed it out, would probably only take around an hour to read the whole thing. Maybe a fun thing to host one of these days…

Here’s a cool thing someone pointed me to via email —

Basically, Wil Wheaton has a series going where he reads a Choose Your Own Adventure book live on Twitch, and the live audience get to help make the choices. Seems like a perfect fit for Twitch and a great (and fairly simple) participatory reading experience.

I wonder what other stuff might be suited to a participatory sort of live reading? Maybe something like a collective poetry reading where one person hosts, and others can call in and read a favorite poem live?