"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Audio Books (Part One)

I enjoy listening to audio books. I always have a book playing in my car and another in reserve if I finish the first one mid-journey. Some books improve when read aloud by skilled vocal talent. Others don’t fare as well in direct proportion to the skills of the narrator. Here is a list of a few of my favorites:

1. Harry Potter Series narrated by Jim Dale. Dale has won multiple awards for his narrations of the Harry Potter series. Listening to him read is mesmerizing. He creates over 250 different voices that he uses for the plethora of JK Rowling’s characters. Pure magic! (Pun intended.)

2. To Kill a Mockingbird narrated by Roses Prichard. Ms. Prichard has Scout’s voice perfect. I’ve listened to this audio version repeatedly over the years and I never get tired of it. Look for this version at your local library, I couldn’t locate it on-line.

3. David McCullough is a most appealing author/narrator who reads his own historical works for audio books. I recommend listening to 1776 . You’ll learn history and be captivated at the same time. McCullough’s voice is instantly recognizable if you watched Ken Burns’ Civil War series on PBS.

4. Along that line, two other authors who read their own books and shouldn’t be missed are Bill Bryson (In a Sunburned Country; et al) and the recently deceased Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes; et al.) Both men add comedic timing to their readings and McCourt narrates in his Irish brogue. Beautiful.

5. Stargirl narrated by John Ritter (may he rest in peace) is a darling young adult novel about a girl who lives by her own rules and brings happiness and delight wherever she goes. The book is written from the point-of-view of a man who loved Stargirl when he was a boy. Ritter does a masterful job as narrator.

6. No Country for Old Men narrated by Tom Stechschulte. Part of Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, this book is set in West Texas in the 1980s. Stechschulte has a gravelly, old voice that is just right for the dialogue and the action of this book. But let me warn you, this book is as violent as the drug trade that drives the story line. Take a look at my review before you decide to read or listen to it.

7. The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig, centers around a one-room schoolhouse in early 20th century Montana. Narrated by Jonathan Hogan, this is the favorite audio book of those I’ve listened to this year. This book was not recorded on CD, but I was able to listen to an audio download from my public library.

8. The History of Love (Nicole Krauss) and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Jonathan Foer) are two books that benefit from audio format because both stories are written in several voices. Women in my book club who listened to these books liked both books, those who didn’t, by and large, were confused and didn’t care for them. I enjoyed both of these books very much and recommend them unreservedly in this format.

9. Fantasy or Science-Fiction books often are easier to digest in the audio format because they are usually full of strange, new words. Let the narrator pronounce them for you in the first book of the series and then you’ll be better equipped to read subsequent books yourself. Some of my favorite fantasy books-on-CD are: Eragon (The Inheritance Series); The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials Series); Goose Girl (The Bayern Series); Feed ; and Anansai Boys.

10. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, narrated by Carolyn McCormick should be in the above list of excellent fantasy/sci-fi books but I gave it its own line because I am so high on the book right now. It is such a good book it shouldn’t be missed in whatever format you prefer. My whole family listened to it at different times but all came to the same conclusion- great book! (YA Fiction; sequel due out in September.)

11. Alexander McCall Smith carefully selects the narrators for his different book series and all of them do a remarkable job reading with correct dialects and accents. Portuguese Irregular Verbs (Von Igelfeld series) is read with a German accent; 44 Scotland Street series and The Sunday Philosophy Club (Isabel Dalhousie series) are both set in Edinburgh and are narrated with lovely Scottish accents ; #1 Ladies Detective Agency series is set in Botswana. The Narrator, Lisette Lecat is from Botswana and brings a tone of authenticity to her readings.

12. Three hilarious YA titles that are especially good in the audio format especially for teen boys are: Fat Kid Rules the World by KL Going; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; and Highest Tide by Jim Lynch. If you enjoy reading YA fiction like I do, don’t overlook the author John Green. I’ve listened to all of his books-on-CD and adored them. His books are not suitable for younger teens: Looking for Alaska; Abundance of Katherines; and Paper Towns.

13. Lastly, don’t be afraid to try one of those books that have been on “your reading list” forever. I enjoyed these three books in audio format, maybe you will, too: Brideshead Revisited (narrated by Jeremy Irons); My Antonia (narrated by Patrick Lawlor); and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (narrated by Kate Burton.)

Please post some other ideas of good books to listen to. Thanks. Enjoy listening!

1 comment:

  1. We have a funny family story about listening to the Golden Compass on the way home from Oregon. We made the whole trip in silence as the whole family was mesmerized by the telling of the story.


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