Narrators of Distinction

I’ve always found choosing a good audiobook to be complicated. Not only do I want the title to be interesting and compelling, there is also the added layer of the quality of the narration. It can be the greatest book in the world, but if I find the narrator’s delivery dull, grating or outright annoying I won’t touch it. On the flip side, if I discover a narrator I really like I will often give a book a listen even if the narrator is reading a title I wouldn’t normally touch with a ten foot pole. So clearly the narrator is key, but how exactly do you choose a good narrator?

One of the easier ways is to take a look at the Audie awards. The Audies are awarded annually by the Audio Publishers Association to titles deemed to have excellent narrators in a wide variety of categories. While this year’s awards won’t be until May 31st, the APA has just come out with all the titles that have been nominated. This list is an easy way to look for titles with potentially great narrators. Listed below is a partial list of the categories and titles that have been nominated for the 2017 awards. Feel free to look at the full list of all the titles and categories, via this link, as well.

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Autobiography/Memoir

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart, narrated by Hannah Hart and Judy Young

The Rainbow Comes and Goes written and narrated by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

Best Female Narrator

Another Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson, narrated by Robin Miles

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien, narrated by Juliet Stevenson

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, narrated by Bahni Turpin

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Best Male Narrator

End of Watch by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton

Jerusalem by Alan Moore, narrated by Simon Vance

Fantasy

The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Michael Kramer

Fiction

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes, narrated by Juliet Stevenson

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History/Biography

Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman, narrated by Jonathan Keeble

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick, narrated by Scott Brick

Humor

The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy written and narrated by Rainn Wilson

Black Man, White House: An Oral History of the Obama Years by D.L. Hughley, narrated by Keith Szarabajka, John Reynolds, Fran Tunno, Cherise Boothe, Dan Woren, P.J. Ochlan, Gregory Itzin, Paula Jai Parker-Martin, Mia Barron, Ron Butler, and James Shippy

You’ll Grow out of It written and narrated by Jessi Klein

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Multi-Voiced Performance

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom, narrated by Mitch Albom, Roger McGuinn, Ingrid Michaelson, John Pizzarelli, Paul Stanley, George Guidall, and more

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, narrated by Audra McDonald, Cassandra Campbell and Ari Fliakos

Mystery

Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, narrated by Rene Auberjonois

The Crossing by Michael Connelly, narrated by Titus Welliver

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny, narrated by Robert Bathurst

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Narration By The Author or Authors

Dear Mr. You written and narrated by Mary-Louise Parker

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo written and narrated by Amy Schumer

The View from the Cheap Seats written and narrated by Neil Gaiman

Non-Fiction

Hillbilly Elegy written and narrated by J.D. Vance

Romance

First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, narrated by Nicole Poole

The Obsession by Nora Roberts, narrated by Shannon McManus

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Science Fiction

Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster, narrated by Marc Thompson

Thriller/Suspense

Cross Justice by James Patterson, narrated by Ruben Santiago Hudson and Jefferson Mays

Home by Harlan Coben, narrated by Steven Weber

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Young Adult

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, narrated by Carla Corvo, Steve West and various

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco and James Patterson, narrated by Nicola Barber

Winter by Marissa Meyer, narrated by Rebecca Soler

For Your Listening Pleasure

Selecting a good audiobook, whether on CD or in digital format, can be a two-step process. There is the first and most obvious step of selecting for the content of the book:  Is it an author you like? Can they write well? Is the subject interesting? If you have listened to audiobooks for a while, you realize there is an important second step: Is the narrator any good? A narrator that you find annoying can really kill the experience no matter how good the content. On the flip side, an excellent narrator can make a book you might not consider at first a fascinating listen. The problem is, how do you find these great narrators.

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One way is to check out an award given by the Audio Publishers Association named the Audies. The Audies are given to titles recorded in a given year based in large part on the excellence of the reader or readers. Even better, they are divided into categories (Biography, Fiction, Mystery, Humor etc.) so you can select in the genre you are interested in. This year, the winners will be announced on Thursday May 29th in New York. Until then you can browse this list of all the nominees, complete with audio samples. You may also be interested in viewing the winners from past years for further listen opportunities. To help you get through the rather long list for this year’s ceremony, here is a selection of the nominated audiobooks by category with links to our catalog. Enjoy!

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Audiobook of the Year
Still Foolin’Em by Billy Crystal, Read by Billy Crystal
The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin, Read by Meryl Streep

Biography/Memoir
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, Read by Archie Panjabi
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor, Read by Rita Moreno

Business/Educational
The Everything Store by Brad Stone, Read by Pete Larkin
Naked Statistics by Charles Wheelan, Read by Jonathan Davis

Classic
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Read by Jake Gyllenhaal
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Read by Armando Duran

Fantasy
Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe, Read by Stefan Rudnicki

Fiction
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, Read by Will Patton
The Good House by Ann Leary, Read by Mary Beth Hurt
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Read by Neil Gaiman

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History
Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff, read by Mitchell Zuckoff
The Hour of Peril by Danil Stashower, read by Edoardo Ballerini
One Summer by Bill Bryson, read by Bill Bryson

Humor
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris, Read by David Sedaris

Inspirational/Faith-Based Fiction
A Story of God and All of Us by Mark Burnett & Roma Downey, Read by authors and Keith David
Truth-Stained Lies by Terri Blackstock, Read by Gabrielle de Cuir

Inspirational/Faith-Based Non-Fiction
Break Out! By Joel Osteen, Read by Joel Osteen

Literary Fiction
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, Read by David Pittu
The Son by Philipp Meyer, Read by Will Patton, Scott Shepherd, Kate Mulgrew, Clifton Collins

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Multi-Voiced Performance
Ender’s Game Alive by Orson Scott Card, Read by full cast
World War Z by Max Brooks, Read by full cast

Mystery
Death and the Lit Chick by G.M. Malliet, Read by Davina Porter
He’s Gone by Deb Caletti, Read by Cassandra Campbell
Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman, Read by Judy Kaye

Non-Fiction
Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill, Read by Sandy Rustin
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, Read by Malcolm Gladwell
The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti, Read by L.J. Ganser
Thank You for Your Service by Daivd Finkel, Read by Arthur Bishop

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Paranormal
Ever After by Kim Harrison, Read by Marguerite Gavin
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy, Read by Benjamin Percy

Romance
The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks, Read by January LaVoy, Ron Mclarty

Science Fiction
Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood, Read by Bernadette Dunne, Bob Walter, Robbie Daymond
The Martian by Andy Weir, Read by R.C. Bray

Thriller/Suspense
The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer, Read by Scott Brick
The Hit by David Baldacci, Read by Ron McLarty, Orlagh Cassidy
Suspect by Robert Crais, Read by Macleod Andrews
Sycamore Row by John Grisham, Read by Michael Beck