"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, June 28, 2012

June is Audiobook Month: my favorites

June is Audiobook Month. With the recent announcement of the Audies, the audiobook awards, I thought it was time for me to announce a few of my favorite audiobooks, too.

For me listening to a well-read audiobook is one of my favorite activities. A good reader can bring a book to life, can add a dimension to the book that adds to it's magic or drama. Audiobook narrators can assist with pronunciation of difficult words used in fantasy tales or world languages, often allowing me to be transported in my mind to far away lands or places. But the opposite can happen, too.  If a book is poorly read, the book can become tedious. Since it usually takes longer to listen to a book than it does to read a book the book may seem to go on and on forever. Sometimes I even abandon the audio version of a book when this happens so that I can finish the book sooner, but that is rare. Usually I relish the time spent listening to audiobooks.

Here are some of my suggestions:

Fantasy Books
  •  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.)
  • The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials Series) by Philip Pullman. This full cast audiobook had my whole family so enraptured that we barely spoke for listening while we traveled home from a vacation.
  • The Inheritance Cycle Series (Eragon) by Christopher Paolini read by Gerard Doyle. This series is full of made up names and places. If I read a book when I don't know how to pronounce names and places it slows me down and frustrates me.  The audiobook is the perfect solution for this problem. Because these books are long, I often listen to the book when I'm in the car and then read when I am in the house, which means I have to skip a head next time I'm in the car.  It gets confusing but I manage. By the way, Gerard Doyle is one of my favorite voice actors.  I can listen to him endlessly.
  • 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.
  • Brideshead Revisited (narrated by Jeremy Irons)
  • My Antonia (narrated by Patrick Lawlor); 
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (narrated by Kate Burton.)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Performed by Dick Hill)
Authors reading their own works. Don't miss these-
  •  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. 
  •  Bill Bryson (In a Sunburned Country; et al) I love this guy's sense of humor and his timing when he is reading his own books.  One of my favorites, which seems like it should be a real snorer, is A Short History of Nearly Everything.
  • Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes; et al.) McCourt narrates in his Irish brogue. Beautiful.
  • Tina Fey (Bossypants) this was an Audie Award winner this year.  It is very funny just like the actress herself. 
  • Sherman Alexie reading his semi-autobiographical masterpiece, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. This audiobook won several awards.
Any book (or series) by Alexander McCall Smith
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.
My favorites of the favorites:
  • 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. 
  • The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig, centers around a one-room schoolhouse in early 20th century Montana. Narrated by Jonathan Hogan this book was not recorded on CD, but I was able to listen to an audio download from my public library
  •  Peace Like a River by Lief Enger, performed by Chad Lowe. I just finished listening to this book for the third time.  I could have turned around and listened to it again immediately. Love it.

2012 Favorites (so far):
  • The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan, read by Patrick Lawlor (Nonfiction)
  • State of Wonder by Ann Prachett, read by Hope Davis  
  • Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West.
  •  Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, read by Laura Song 
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, read by Carolyn McCormick 
  •  Day After Night by Anita Diamant, read by Dagmara Dominczyk
  • Peace Like a River by Lief Enger, read by Chad Lowe
Please post some other ideas of good books to listen to. Thanks. Enjoy listening!

10/13/12 A few more 2012 favorites

  •  Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann, read by Julia Whelan
  • Mirrormask by Neil Gaiman, read by Stephanie Leonidas
  • Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, read by Caitlin Greer
  • The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, read by Laura Flanagan 
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, read by Katherine Kellgren
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton
  • Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation by John Carlin, read by Gideon Emory
  • Lirael by Garth Nix, read by Tim Curry (#2 in Abhorsen series)
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, read by Rosenblat and Morris
  • Abhorsen by Gath Nix, read by Time Curry
  • Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, read by Polly Stone
  • Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton



  1. The only audiobook I've ever read (heard?) is Zorro. I thought it was pretty amazing, and I've been wanting to try some more audiobooks ever since. Maybe this is the month to try another one!

  2. I've listened to very few audio books, but I think they are so fun. Especially books I'm already familiar with so I can listen while doing other things (Harry Potter). Thanks for the great suggestions!

    Unrelated, I have a couple questions about the Seattle area. I'm moving there from Boston at the end of August. If you'd be willing to talk to me about it, that would be great. My email address is alliegm@gmail.com.

  3. June was Audio Book Month? Well, I guess we celebrated by listening to Revived, a teen audio, during our 3-week road trip. I would have liked to listen to more books, but my sons have sort of lost interest now :( One is busy reading his own books in the car (which I can't do without getting sick!) and the other prefers to listen to his iPod or watch DVDs on his laptop...sigh...they are growing up!

    You have quite a list here - many I didn't know about. I agree re: Sherman Alexie's novel. State of Wonder is waiting on my iTunes - need to put that one on the ipod now that we are home.

    We enjoyed Incarceron on audio, and Looking for Bobowicz by Daniel Pinkwater is our all-time favorite audio book - we have listened to it at least a half dozen times, and we still laugh like crazy (it's hard to find, though - I bought an old library copy of half.com).



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