Friday, September 11, 2009

Free Audio Books and the Beagle

I like to put audio books on my MP3 player and listen to them while working around the house or down in my wood shop. I'd been getting them through the Columbus Library's website where they have a fair selection of nonfiction and the books are professionally recorded. If you have a library card somewhere, check your library's site. You might have a similar deal. Recently I found another source that's very cool. Internet Archive has a large collection of audio, videos and Ebooks that are in the public domain. There are also opportunities to volunteer to record books into the audio collection (I may do some, but I talk so slowly that it may take half an hour to listen to a book title). Check it out, volunteer, donate and enjoy the accumulated knowledge.

The last book I listened to was "The Voyage of the Beagle" by Charles Darwin. I'd read a lot of his writings, but thought this book, usually described as a travelogue, would be no big deal. Boy, was I wrong. I think this book gave me more insight into the way Darwin's mind worked and his amazing powers of perception than anything else I've read by him. While his later works display the end results of his brain power, "The Voyage of the Beagle" allows the reader (or the listener, as it were) to observe the gears turning. Darwin not only seemed to gather more information from his observations than most people, he was then able to compare species he observed to taxonomically similar species in other parts of the world and determine the direction and possible methods of migration of flora and fauna. After reading this book, natural selection seems a more natural conclusion from the accumulated data than I had previously thought. I don't mean that reading about the Beagle voyage would allow anyone to reach the same conclusion, that obviously didn't happen, but, rather that Darwin's incredible intellect was so apparent that of course he figured it out.

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