Being read to is a delight that’s somehow reserved for our childhood and during literary events. Taking the time to listen to someone read you a story is to me absolute bliss. It’s wonderful to just relax, sit back and listen once in a while. This Friday we’re organizing a literary event where upcoming authors will read to us in the coziness of our favorite quiet-café Adem Inn, but for everyone who can’t make it, we made a list of books that should be read to you. So go out and find yourself someone with a silky voice who isn’t afraid of doing silly characters and have the best night of your life.

The Beginning Woods
Malcolm McNeill

Fairy tales are great to get lost in because the narrator always talks in this bombastic storytelling manner that sweeps you off your feet. In The Beginning Woods, the narrator does this very well with constant foreshadowing of what might happen later on. This one’s about a reality where adults keep disappearing because of imagination and stories. It’s a little like the fairy tale version of Fahrenheit 451, but then with wind-dragons, evil witches and horribly cruel people. So maybe a combination of Fahrenheit and Pan’s Labyrinth? Sounds to me like a great combination. Although the book is a little dark, you could even settle in with your kids (or nephews, nieces or any other small kids that might linger around you) and ask another adult to read this to all of you.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
Raymond Carver

We all know the old saying: ‘Being read one short story at night, makes for a happy camper’ or something like that. My boyfriend and I read our way through What We Talk About When We Talk About Love like this and it was great. Short stories are great for reading aloud because they don’t take too long and they give you an easy exit. There’s no cliffhanger that drives you to the next chapter, so at least it’s not going to mess with your sleep. Besides the general greatness of short stories, Carver’s are just exemplary. His writing style is simple and straightforward and his characters will leave you with a feeling of melancholy that’s somehow comforting as well as depressing, which ends up feeling good? It’s a difficult sensation to explain, but just trust me on this one.

Harry Potter Series
J.K. Rowling

There’s nothing like rereading childhood – or adulthood – favorites. I love revisiting these old friends every once in a while and the Harry Potter series is just great for reading aloud. The illustrated one even has pictures for you to look at while someone else does all the work. It’s what they’re made for! You also already know all the exciting bits, which means you can enjoy them without the worry of what might happen. Harry Potter is filled with great characters that absolutely warrant the use of funny voices, so make sure you get someone good to read this one. And if they don’t do it right, just tell them it’s pronounced LeviOsa instead of LeviosAR.

Multiple Choice
Alejandro Zambra

If you like being read to but sitting still also makes you a little antsy, then Multiple Choice might just be the best book for you. First of all, it’s short. Very short, so you’ll be done with this one in no time. Second of all, it’s written in the form of a multiple choice test, so there will be plenty of room for you to yell out ‘b! I pick b!’ whenever you’ve been doing nothing for too long. Turn it into a fun evening with friends where instead of taking silly quizzes from girly magazines, you discuss experimental fiction and the bigger questions in life. Add wine, pizza and chocolate (yes that combination is totally amazing) and you’ve got a very interesting night in.

Killing and Dying
Adrian Tomine

Although you might not think of it, graphic novels are great for reading out loud. Sit next to each other, look at the art and do the reading together. Divide the characters among each other and go to town! I always have a hard time to really soak in the images while reading graphic novels, so reading it together might just help slow you down a bit! Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine is a collection of stories that showcases the possibilities of the medium. It’s filled with amazing imagery, thoughtful storytelling and subtle emotions. Be sure to constantly point out the cool things you’re seeing on the page, so that reading this will take a good long time.

A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway

Classics are also great for reading out loud. Sometimes it can be a little daunting to start one of the greats of literary history, but delving in together with someone else can make the task so much easier. Maybe start easy though and then work your way up to War & Peace. Right now I’d recommend A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, a story about an American soldier in Italy fighting in the war and falling in love. I suggest you read this one with someone from your opposite gender and then heavily debate the love story between Henry and Catherine because that should be good. Classics are so much fun to read and then get into a fight over. So maybe don’t do the whole reading aloud thing right before bed when it comes to this one.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Haruki Murakami

Another one of my favorite things when it comes to being read to, is having the reader struggle with weird science fiction names and words. Science fiction and fantasy are great for that, but if you enjoy those genres and don’t have a mean streak like me, then I highly suggest you give Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami a try. You might have already read it, but the strange story about a library filled with unicorn skulls definitely deserves a re-read. Besides, I think Murakami’s languid writing voice is just made to be read out loud. Put on some jazz, drink a bit of whiskey and listen to the man telling you a very weird story.

These are just some ideas to incorporate storytime into your life. We’d love to hear what books you think are great for reading aloud and who you’d like to read them to you!


Esmée de Heer is head honcho over at the Bored to Death book club website, writing the daily content and making sure the site stays up and running. She's one of the founding sisters of the book club and enjoys reading and giving unsolicited love advice.

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