Immersive reading, The hobbit and The lord of the Rings

  • books
  • reading
1 min read / 369 words

Even though I mostly read nonfiction, I've recently read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien in two afternoons thanks to immersive reading. Having now completed the fellowship of the ring, I'm about to read the two towers. Here I'd briefly like to share what immersive reading is all about, while recommending the quite unique audiobooks that were recently produced by Tolkien fans.

Immersive reading

Multimedia helps memory a lot and some of the best mnemonic techniques deal with audio and visual representations. Immersive reading is about reading a piece of text, usually a book, while listening to its audio form at the same time. You listen to a narration of the text while following along in the book. Modern audiobooks exist since decades and are now popularized by companies like Audible. Ebook readers like Amazon's Kindle have recently started offering immersive listening features.

Amazon/Audible marketing name for it is 'Whispersync for Voice'. When you find a Kindle book with that tag, it means it fully supports immersive/immersion reading on the Kindle Fire and on iPhone/iPad/Android apps. Amazon's implementation will also highlight the text that's being narrated by the audiobook. If you want this feature you'll have to buy both the audible version and the kindle ebook (at a discount). It is surprising though that Amazon still doesn't support the feature in their e-ink Kindle readers (likely that will come in the next generation later this year or in 2021).

You can of course read along using a traditional paper book while listening to the audiobook. And the audiobooks can even be free and of much higher production quality than Audible, if they're about wildly popular novels. This is what I did while reading the Tolkien saga.

The Hobbit and The lord of the Rings

The Tolkien saga fanbase is so massive that there are countless free contributions. What I recommend here is the best audiobook for The Hobbit (recently produced by Bluefax) and the best one for the Lord of the Rings (produced by Phil Dragash). These are highly immersive, cinematic audiobooks: music, sound effects, very good narration and voice quality. A production with a much higher standard than Audible audiobooks, all free for the user.