Last Christmas my present to my husband was a promise for a daily, five-minute read aloud video.We would read a book together- how sweet! He would watch it on his lunch break- how romantic! Eh…not so much. Here’s the initial post about it:
First step was choosing a book. Thanks to all who commented. He went with Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher. I bought the book and started to make the read aloud videos. If anyone thinks this is something they want to do, learn from my mistakes!
Tip #1: Pick a short, stand-alone novel. Furies is 688 pages- not the best choice for five-minute increments. By video sixty-six we were not even half-way through the book. Since its the first book in a series, we quickly realized it was probably going to be mostly world-building, introducing characters, and not resolving overall plot. By the time we finish this book, will we want to continue? And continue together? Endless videos?
Tip #2: Record multiple sessions at once. There are a few reasons for this: I had to make the videos when I was home, but not working, and hubby wasn’t around. This narrowed down the time frame quite a bit. Plus, my schedule varies. This meant I regularly was apologizing for not having a video ready that day. (The video might only be 5 minutes, but it takes longer to get everything ready, film, check it, upload, check it uploaded ok, and click various buttons.)
Another reason is vocal continuity. Half the fun of a read aloud is accents and silly voices. But the short reading time on this present made it hard for me to feel out the correct voice for the many characters in this book (also, there are MANY characters.) And it was hard to get into the plot without completing even a scene each time. I started recording longer than five minutes, though always less than ten. This helped get into the reading.
Tip #3: At least get dressed. I did this. There were many times I was tempted to do the read aloud recording first thing in the morning when hubby left for work. But a little voice reminded me that anything on the internet stays forever (I was uploading to YouTube). I was often sick or had a headache or generally did not feel well during many reading sessions. There’s no make-up or flattering lighting, but I always got dressed, splashed some water on my face, and made sure my hair wouldn’t frighten small children.
Tip #4: Make time for discussion. I can hear you saying, “Wait, I have to set aside time to make the videos about the book, and then more time to talk about the book?” Yes. The point of the gift is to do something together. The videos are a one-way street, not much communication. Hubby and I would chat briefly sometimes about what was happening in the books. We could have used a once-a-week dinner book discussion date.
Tip #5: Make sure your recipient doesn’t change jobs mid-way to a work environment that has rules against using the computer for anything outside of work which includes any videos from your wife on YouTube. Ok, so this one is pretty specific, but effectively squashed my present to hubby. I started recording in January and he switched jobs in May. Recording and then having him watch videos at home missed the point of the present. We discussed finishing the read on our own, but we both knew he’d never get around to it. A few months went by and the book lay on the shelf with the bookmark still in.
A solution was found, perhaps better than the initial gift. My husband rubs my feet every night. This started a few years ago to help with certain health issues. Sometimes I fall asleep, but sometimes we chat about the day or anything we needed to tell each other about tomorrow. This week I started reading the book out loud during my foot massage. Usually lasting about twenty minutes, we are moving quicker through the story, which is making it more engaging. Reading to someone, as opposed to alone in front of a camera, is a more dynamic experience. There are mutual eye-rolls, snarky comments, jokes, and plot analysis throughout my reading.
In the end, a read aloud is a good gift, both the video and live version. I wonder what I should offer for his present this year…
And if you want an example of my video reading, here’s one from Chapter 15: