My Kindle Comforts Me at Night

Publishers have nothing, I repeat, nothing, to fear from the Kindle’s monotone text-to-speech. Audiobook lovers will remain audiobook lovers. People who don’t want to listen to audiobooks will definitely not listen to this for long stretches of time; the lack of intonation and the natural pauses, groupings, and emphasis used when humans talk, means Kindle speech becomes difficult to parse if you happen to lose track, say, while you’re doing anything else and something moderately surprising comes along, like doing laundry and suddenly you realize the socks you’re rolling don’t match. Gods help you if you’re actually trying to drive and use this.

Even the worst reading by a human being will be more easily parsed than Kindle text-to-speech over a period of, say, over half an hour.

But at the same time, that dreary, untrackable monotone results in the perfect sleeping aide, at least for me. I listen to it, trying to figure out words, and then as I drift to sleep I stop caring, and it becomes a kind of white noise afterwards. This is better than white noise, because it’s easier to try to find meaning in mumbled words than it is in raindrops, and I need external input in order to not accidentally wander into the bear traps of memory.

My favorite sources for this kind of late night text? Net articles about mediocre movies with long stretches of boring in them that reduce critics to zonked-out, disillusioned, yet snarky babbling for something like 2500 words. This paragraph alone should remove all fear of Kindle text-to-speech from thinking publishers.

Anyways, for those of you looking for any kind of sleep aide and who happen to have at least a 2nd generation Kindle, here are my favorite “bored movie critics you can hear desperately scratching behind glass walls in a prison that the movie will not release them from for at least 90 minutes” articles:

  • Anything from The Agony Booth. My favorite is their Star Trek V recap, but Twilight and Star Trek: Insurrection work as well for me. It helps to have some familiarity with the material. Battlefield Earth actually doesn’t work for me for some reason, possibly because it’s so horrible it’s useless for anything, even a sleep aide.

  • Selections from Roger Ebert’s Your Movie Sucks, especially his takedown of The Village and a couple other movies following it alphabetically in the list, I don’t remember them even now, they’re so unmemorable.

I haven’t tried other sources as of yet. I like these.

My Kindle: changing my life in ways I didn’t expect.

You know what I used to do before the Kindle came along? I listened to the beginning of the Coraline audiobook, during the slow ramp-up, I’ve usually fallen asleep before the really crazy shit started to come down. And I listened to the prologue for the Fragile Things audiobook, and drifted off to sleep somewhere when Neil Gaiman says the word “island,” unless that’s just in my head.

Sometimes raindrops work, as in trying to figure out what the rain is hitting; works well for real rain splashing down roofs and against windows (and very much a way to stay in the present, as it were). But it doesn’t work as well when the raindrops are simulated, even if they’re dynamically generated rather than a static recording, because, because while their distance may wander back and forth, they don’t hit anything nearby.

I’ve tried things like The Delta Sleep System, and it hasn’t worked, for about the same reasons at the simulated raindrops. Plus for some reason they nowadays seem to trigger me. At a place I lived at before I came here, there were air ducts or vents or something, and they went off at night. Comforting, except this was when I was on the run from my parents…. I guess, it’s a little mixed up.

Anyways: Kindle. Easily mistracked audio untrainable monotone. Makes me sleep reliably. Not exactly audiobook replacement material.

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2 thoughts on “My Kindle Comforts Me at Night

  1. Before the net, listening to the Dutch service on Radio Netherland shortwave was similarly soothing. Turns out Dutch and American English have very similar prosody. My brain would focus so hard on trying to parse it that I’d suddenly fall asleep.

  2. Hm, so apparently that sort of effect is common.

    Yet another reason why text to speech is nothing for publishers to fear.

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