Reading aloud has been proven to create bonds between people, and to help increase both the reader and the listener’s vocabulary. Parents often read aloud to their children, but how many people would be willing to read aloud to another adult? How about a stranger from anywhere in the world? An online service called ‘Audrey’ offers people the chance to read or be read to from anywhere in the world.
Audrey pairs up readers and listeners by asking questions and matching their interests, while also taking into consideration the importance of connecting with people who have differing life experiences to your own. The service chooses the book through extensive research, recommendations from librarians, book shop owners, and the Audrey online community. The site also reassures users that if the book or the reading companion don’t seem like a good fit, a change can be made.
The website states:
“Audrey is a space where people from all walks of life can meet online and read thought-provoking books aloud together to spark interesting conversations and build meaningful relationships. Reading aloud together is a relaxing, soulful, shared experience where you quickly develop a real sense of connectedness with someone else. Afterwards your mind feels nourished and invigorated. Reading aloud together moves us to talk about our own stories and emotions. This helps to remind us how much we have in common which encourages connection and compassion. Reading aloud together exposes us to new ideas, enables us to see the world through the eyes of others, and teaches us the value of listening. The simplest experiences can inspire us, help us to focus on what’s important to us, and make a meaningful difference in our everyday lives.”
You don’t need anything special to get involved- just a computer or tablet with an internet connection and a mic. The experience all takes place on the Audrey site, making it secure and private, and it works straight from the platform- no need to download anything or install a separate application.
Speaking to the BBC, an Audrey user named Joe Cheff who manages an IT department, explains his experience of reading with strangers:
“When I first read about the idea online, I’ll admit I thought it a little strange. My friends certainly find it strange. But, I’m retiring in 10 years and, having majored in literature, I knew I’d really enjoy the experience. I’m looking for new hobbies for when I’m not working so much. So, I thought… why not?”