With life’s busy schedule and to unburden my eyes from screens, I’ve preferred to consume literature via audiobooks. Popular shows usually can’t keep up with the material that they’re based on and western lit is fortunate to have companies who produce audiobooks for them. I recently got into Japanese Web/Light Novels since their anime adaptations kept me hanging.
I tried reading through the pdfs but being stuck too long in front a monitor is tiring. Encountered Adobe Readers’ “read out loud” feature and it helped out for a while.
It has simple speed settings, but I found it a bit crude being based on words/minute and unstable at the listening rate I prefer (1.5x or faster).
After searching a bit, I saw Balabolka as a recommendation and found it nice. It can open typical formats such as text, epub and pdfs. Even at the max speed, the content is still understandable.
Since it runs on Windows’ SAPI engine, other voices/languages are available for download. I tried David(US) & Hazel(UK) but my brain prefers the default Zira(US).
For common and special words that it gets wrong, you can customize the pronunciation and test it before adding it to your custom dictionary. As an example: bribery as ‘bry berry’ or tsundere as ‘tsun-de regh’.
I think the first audiobook I got into was one of the Harry Potter books. Hating spoilers, I’d line up during the book’s launch date to blast through the story. I’d then procure the audiobook version to enjoy the story repeatedly. Although the production/artistic value of the audiobook is amazing, I’d look for mods to push the speech speed above 1.5x.
For single file books, my go-to players is ‘media player classic’ with it’s customizable “increase speed”. For books broken into chapter files, I use winamp with “Fourier Pitch Tempo Control” plugin.
Books I rotate as background audio: Harry Potter 1-7+cursed child, Dune 1-7+prelude++, The Expanse 1-8, The Martian.
Books I DIYed: Mushoku Tensei – Jobless Reincarnation, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, The Rising of the Shield Hero, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Syukufuku wo!