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

Audio for Every Occasion

I’m not sure why, but when it comes to reading vs. listening tastes, I’ve got a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on. When I look for a good audiobook I always end up choosing one that I probably wouldn’t give a second thought to if I was actually going to read it. It could be the activities I’m doing while listening require more distraction than my usual reading tastes provide. Or maybe I have a repressed desire for space opera, contemporary social issues, and 80s nostalgia that comes bubbling up to the surface when I select an audiobook. In any case, here are a few recent favorites paired with the activity that I’ve found matches them perfectly.

Activity: Yard work, yard work and more yard work
Preferred audio genre: Science fiction adventures

I love science fiction, but I normally watch it rather than read it. That all changes when it comes to selecting audiobook titles for working in the yard.

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
This one has a grand plot involving dueling space ships, teen romance, weaponized infectious disease and a rogue AI to boot. The story is ingeniously told through a series of found documents that lends itself well to audio format. A large voice cast brings the characters to life with the female lead Kady and the disturbed but sympathetic AI, AIDAN, being standouts. This is definitely a YA novel, with lots of adolescent angst, but it maintains a great sense of humor and will definitely make the weed pulling pass by quickly.

Alien: Out of the Shadows
Sadly, this one is not available via the library, being an ‘Audible Original Drama’, but I couldn’t resist mentioning it. It is based on a book by Tim LeBron but this version is a radio drama with a full audio cast, including Rutger Hauer no less.  Admittedly this is fan boy stuff, continuing the story of Ellen Ripley after her encounter with the Alien in the first film, but it was really fun and a great listen. So fire up the flame thrower, pay heed to the motion tracker and whatever you do, do not place your face directly over a large leathery egg as it slowly opens.

Activity: Exercise
Preferred audio genre: Social injustice

I usually avoid reading about contemporary political issues like the plague, but I’ve found that the outrage produced by a well-crafted audio book can not only make the time fly by while I exercise, but probably gets my heart pumping faster as my rage increases.

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Ghettoside by Jill Leovy
Ostensibly this work is about the murder of eighteen year old Bryant Tennelle in South Los Angeles and the subsequent police investigation. The author does definitely follow the case, which provides a good narrative structure and drama, but in fact this book is a searing indictment of society’s long indifference to urban enclaves where crimes against primarily African American men are criminally neglected and rarely result in a conviction. The audiobook is expertly narrated by Rebecca Lowman who makes every word count.

Missoula by Jon Krakauer
This work is an impassioned, rage-inducing examination of a disturbingly large number of rapes at the University of Montana in Missoula from 2010 to 2012 and the police’s and university’s response to them. Krakauer meticulously documents the events and creates a great deal of suspense as you follow the individual cases. This is top quality non-fiction that draws you in and keeps your attention even when you want to look away. The narration is expertly done by Mozhan Marno who brings the often disturbing material to life.

Activity: Long car trips
Preferred Audio Genre: 80s entertainment nostalgia

It is probably because my traveling companion is ‘of a certain age’ like me, but memoirs of entertainment figures from the 80s are always a big hit on our long distance road trips.

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As You Wish by Cary Elwes
If you have even the smallest desire to learn more about the creation of the film The Princess Bride, this is the audiobook for you. Written and narrated by Cary Elwes, you get a blow by blow account of the creation, filming and reception of this iconic film. Elwes also enlists an all-star cast, including Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal and Mandy Patinkin, who narrate their own accounts of filming. It really is a fun listen, if for no other reason than finding out the origins of all the catch phrases that the movie produced. Inconceivable!

So That Happened by Jon Cryer
Cryer has had some notable hits, including Pretty in Pink and Two and Half Men, but the fun of this audiobook is in how he details some of his less successful projects (Superman IV anyone?). He narrates the audiobook and has great sense of humor about himself and the nature of his work. Best of all, he isn’t afraid to ‘go negative’ at times. Do you want to know what it is actually like to work with both Molly Ringwald and Charlie Sheen? Of course you do.

So I still don’t know why there is such a big difference between what I choose to read and what I choose to listen to. Perhaps it’s just best to accept my dual nature. It worked for Dr. Jekyll right?

I’m Going on a Car Trip and I’m Taking…

5315332489_da1eaf57df_bPerhaps you know the car game that is similar to the one called “I’m Going on a Picnic” where the first person says something starting with the letter “A” and the second person says the thing starting with “A” and something starting with the letter “B”. On it goes in alphabetical order until someone forgets or you get to the last letter.

Well, we’re going on a twelve-hour car trip with two young girls, ages two and four, for our family vacation this labor day and I am reminded of that game as I set about packing and checking out items from the library in preparation for the long day’s drive. Here’s my alphabetical library packing list.

indexI’m going on a long drive and I’m taking an Audio Book. It needs to be one that the whole family will enjoy and so that means a kid’s story. I will probably end up with Hank the Cowdog. Hank thinks that he’s in charge of a ranch in Texas and has a lot of responsibilities that he tries to get his side kick Drover to do. Drover can’t because his leg hurts! We love listening to Hank’s adventures and you’re in luck if you do also, because there are lots of Hank books.

index (1)I’m going on a long drive and I’m taking a regular old Book. I’ll need it for reading by the pool in the bright sunlight. I’ll limit myself to one and take Shadows in the Vineyard. The subtitle is: the true story of the plot to poison the world’s greatest wine. I love reading about things that really have happened and Parisian detectives, small towns in France and wine. I’ll have to drink a glass while reading, non? Besides, I just love the feel of our quick pick books: soft and literary, or so it seems.

index (2)I’m driving twelve hours to Idaho and I’m taking lots of Children’s CD’s. We always take my favorite Cowboy Playground, but this time we hope to also take Laurie Berkner’s new one called Superhero. This much-anticipated album is her first of original titles since 2008. We are always enchanted by her imaginative and empowering lyrics. I’m excited to listen to this new CD because I’m sure there will be some great songs for storytime song and dance.

index (3)We’re driving to Idaho and taking some DVD’s from the library. We probably won’t have Hello, My Name is Doris yet because we’re down the hold list but will take London Has Fallen (which is one big chase scene) or Eddie the Eagle. It’s about an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself, even as an entire nation was counting him out. I want to watch this ‘delightfully feel-good’ movie while on vacation.

index (4)I’m driving to Idaho and I’m taking an Ebook. It’ll probably be an audio ebook as I know I’ll be driving the long stretches while everyone else is napping. I love that kind of straight driving without interruptions like tailgaters or traffic of any sort, but you need some distraction. How about something by Bill Bryson like A Walk in the Woods? It’s funny and the author reads it to you and it’s about a wild adventure. Besides, the book is always better than the movie, right?

So, I’ll spare you the whole alphabet and skip F G H I J K and go to L, because I’ll be sure to pack my Library Card. My husband once flew to Idaho with only his library card as identification (back in the day when we had photos on them). Long story, but the point is you need your card to check out ebooks and magazines or to access expensive databases that are free with your library card. Or to board a plane. Don’t leave home without it!

index (1)I’m driving to Idaho and I know the way but still want to take Maps. The Idaho Atlas & Gazetteer is awesome if you love topographical maps and don’t want to miss that beautiful lake that is just out of sight. (I’ll never forgive myself for the time we missed Hoover Dam because I was so anxious to get out of Las Vegas!) The atlas notes all of the historic sites, the unique natural features, good hiking, and national forests.

 

indexI’m going on vacation and I’m taking a Novel! I just found Invincible Summer by Alice Adams waiting for me on the hold shelf. Spanning two decades, Adams presents the interwoven lives of four friends as they leave college and embark on the unclear waters of adulthood. It has a nice, summery cover (which the previous borrower sprinkled with sand–a nice touch). I’ll give it a go and let you know what I think after the trip.

 

It’s such a big job packing for an adventure like this that I’d better gather these things now and finish this game when we’re on our way. Road trip!

Go the Distance with Audiobooks

Yes Please coverFor those of you who don’t keep up with obscure monthly observances, June happens to be National Audiobook Month. This, in my opinion, is excellent timing. What better month to celebrate a form of reading that allows us to enjoy the best of summer? We can safely read while we run, garden, hike, or embark on long road trips. It should come as no surprise that our library employees are avid consumers of the audiobook in its many forms. In order to help you choose your next ear-read (I’m making that a word), we’ve asked our staff to review some of their favorite audiobooks. Place your holds now!

Leslie

Harold Fry coverThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel  Joyce (CD and eAudio).  This novel is about a man who is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old love in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance. I enjoyed listening to it partly because of the narrator’s British accent but mostly because of the well written and compelling story.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is also by Rachel Joyce (CD) and it is the story told from the perspective of the woman who Harold Fry is walking to visit. It features another charming British accent and there’s a surprise at the end.

Short Nights coverShort Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan (CD and eAudio) is the story of photographer Edward S. Curtis and his passionate project of documenting the remaining Native American tribes in stunning photographs. An incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, Egan’s book tells the remarkable untold story behind Curtis’s iconic photographs. You obviously don’t see the photos while listening to this book, but the images created by this author are still vivid in my memory. I associate it with painting our basement as that’s what I did while ‘reading’ this fabulous story. Now if I could just have a Curtis photograph for my basement walls…

These Few Precious Days by Christopher Andersen (CD) will amaze you with the whole story of Jack and Jackie’s final year together. This book is a glimpse into the twilight days of Camelot.


One Summer coverYes, Please! By Amy Poehler (CD) is simply hilarious and made even better by being read by the author herself. Listen to this one if you need a good laugh, and who doesn’t? (Lisa here – I have to second this choice – it’s fantastic!)


One Summer: America 1927
by Bill Bryson (CD and Playaway) is about just that: America in the summer of 1927. This is a big story about the big personalities of the day: Babe Ruth, Calvin Coolidge, Charles Lindbergh, Al Jolson and more. Do yourself a favor and let someone else read it to you! It’s fascinating.

Alan

Grapes of Wrath coverThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (CD)
I had always meant to read this and once I had a long commute, I was able to find the time. The book about the plight of American farmers who were forced off their farms by drought and foreclosure during the 1930’s is everything you’d expect. But the narration adds so much to the story. When you finish the audiobook, cue up Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Ballads, which the library also owns.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B. J. Novak (CD and eAudio)
Very funny, well worth hearing B. J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman, Mindy Kaling, and many, many others perform the occasionally brilliant, sometimes underdeveloped, always funny pieces on the audiobook version of this short story collection from a writer of the American version of “The Office.”

Fighting Chance coverA Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren (CD and eAudio)
Elizabeth Warren’s story of her bumpy rise to fame and political power not only sets the stage for (likely) a higher office, but serves to inspire and make her as relatable as she appears in interviews and speeches. Read by the author/politician, Warren has a wonderfully rich voice, elevating the telling nicely.

Joyce

Born Standing Up coverBorn Standing Up: A Comic’s Life, written and read by Steve Martin (CD). Listening to the long-time writer/producer/actor/musician/comic’s audiobook gave me a jolt of intimacy and pleasure that his book—no matter how well written—could not have delivered on. Born Standing Up had me marveling at not just the words, but his voice: the tone and timbre, and timing, and Martin’s is impeccable. Martin’s memoir about growing up in southern California, working and learning magic at Disneyland, playing banjo in coffeehouses, his unusual, breakthrough comedy routines and becoming hugely popular on Saturday Night Live was a funny, enthralling life story.

Eileen

I have become an audiobook fanatic since acquiring an MP3 player several years ago. I listen when I’m gardening, walking, cooking (sometimes this is not a good thing), ironing—in other words whenever I’m doing something that doesn’t take a lot of concentration.

I have several favorites. Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking (CD and Playaway) is one I heard early in my career as a book listener, and it still comes back to haunt me. The reader’s voice was perfect for conveying Didion’s sense of loss and hopelessness as first her husband then her daughter die in the same year.

Bringing Up the Bodies coverI listened to both of Hilary Mantel’s books about the life of Thomas Cromwell and his association with Henry VIII.  Several people had told me that they found it difficult to track who was who when they attempted to read Wolf Hall (CD and eAudio), the first book in what is expected to be a trilogy. Listening to it there was no such difficulty. The right reader is critical to my enjoyment of an audiobook, and Simon Slater was the perfect choice for my ears. But then I also enjoyed hearing Simon Vance read Bring up the Bodies (CD and eAudio), Mantel’s sequel.

Dance with Dragons coverLastly I thoroughly enjoyed all of the George R. R. Martin series, Song of Ice and Fire (CD and eAudio).  I didn’t expect this to be true because I don’t normally read fantasy or science fiction, but I was hearing rave reviews from library patrons, and thought listening to the audio version would be easier than reading all 694 pages of A Game of Thrones. Many hours later—and I mean many hours since each of the books in the series so far run more than 30 hours—I came to the end of the fifth book,  A Dance with Dragons, and all I could think of was when would he finish writing the next book so I could find out what happened!

Julie

Misty imageMy all-time favorite audio book has to be Misty of Chincoteague read by Edward Hermann (Playaway). His voice is so great and friendly, making me feel like a grandpa is reading it. I also like that it is a playaway so I can walk around with it. My commute is only 1.5 miles, so a book on disc would take me ages!

Me

I blogged a little while back about some excellent non-fiction audiobooks that I really enjoyed; you can find that post here. More recent favorites include:

The Road coverThe Road by Cormac McCarthy (CD). Imagine the Walking Dead, sans walkers. The world as we know it has been obliterated by an unspecified disaster. Father and son find themselves on a furtive journey to the sea. What they hope to find there is unclear, but it has to be better than where they’ve come from. Doesn’t it? Haunting, anxiety-ridden, but strangely beautiful at times.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (CD). Young love is rough and often prone to failure. What happens if it never truly dies? Love in the Time of Cholera is a fairly humorous and slightly dark look at one man’s 1/2-a-century struggle to overcome his first heartbreak. It may leave you asking: does love ever truly die?

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!

still foolin emI am Malalaeverything storegreat gatsbydoctor sleep

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

ocean at the end of the lanefrozen in timelets explore diabetesstory of godgoldfinch

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

enders game aliveworld war zhes gonebeyond beliefthe telling room

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

ever afterlongest ridethe martianthe hitsycamore row

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

You Really Like Me

Popularity can bring many things: sitting with the cool kids during lunch, strangers recognizing you on the street, a crushing sense of hollowness when you realize how little you have actually accomplished that is worthwhile (o.k. that last one is just bitter wish fulfilment on my part). In the world of audiobooks, where sales and the number of titles have been doubling recently, popularity has produced an interesting phenomenon: an increase in the number of celebrity readers. Whether this is a fad or a new trend is hard to know, but there is no reason listeners can’t take advantage of the situation. Here are a few recent narrators and titles that just might be of interest.

Colin Firth reads The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

endoftheaffair

This classic novel depicts a tempestuous love triangle that plays out amid the backdrop of a war-ravaged London. It is considered to be one of Greene’s finest works and has twice been adapted as a film. In addition, it cannot be denied that narrator Colin Firth has an authentic English accent.  Also, many listeners may get a kick out of having Mr. Darcy, by way of Pride and Prejudice or Bridget Jones’s Diary, read to them for a time.

Claire Danes reads The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

HandmaidsTale1Can’t get enough of Homeland? Are you still bummed about the tragic cancellation of My So-Called Life? If so you might want to listen to Claire Danes narrate Margret Atwood’s tale of a theocratic dystopia in the not too distant future. The Handmaid’s Tale is the story of Offred, the Handmaid of the title, who must cope with, and eventually rebel against, a society that is determined to subordinate every aspect of women’s lives to a strict faith-based hierarchy.

Diane Keaton reads Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

slouching-towards-bethlehemIf you aren’t familiar with this superb collection of essays, now is the time to do so. Most of the works are deft and searing exposés of Didion’s experiences in counter-culture California during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Each one captures a sense of the dreamy idealism and inevitable decay that the era produced. And who better than the star of Manhattan, to read ‘Goodbye to All That’ a brilliant, insightful and bittersweet essay that perfectly captures the feeling of those who have turned their back on ‘The City’.

Meryl Streep reads The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin

testamentofmaryThis controversial and popular novel is the story of Mary, yes that Mary, after the crucifixion of Jesus. If you are going to have someone narrate for this theological figure, you better have star power. This audiobook does not disappoint. It hardly needs to be said, but Meryl Streep has been nominated for a gazillion Oscars, o.k. eighteen, and is more than up to the task.

David Morrissey reads Autobiography by Morrissey

morrisseyNow is your chance to hear from the horse’s mouth just how ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’, ‘Meat is Murder’ and of course ‘Vicar in a Tutu’ came to grace the music scene. To emphasize the, no doubt, humble and self-deprecating tone of this work, who better to narrate than actor David Morrissey who recently portrayed the brutal and megalomaniacal Governor in seasons three and four of The Walking Dead.

Wil Wheaton reads Redshirts by John Scalzi

redshirtsTalk about a perfect convergence of text and reader. Wil Wheaton, who counts among his many accomplishments a four season tour on Star Trek: The Next Generation, narrates this story of Andrew Dahl who starts to notice that low ranking officers on away missions from his starship are dropping like flies. Strangely the ship’s captain and chief science officer always come back unscathed. Coincidence? I think not.

So does popularity breed contempt? Perhaps… but it most certainly produces a lot of great audiobooks for us to listen to.

Delayed (Audio) Gratification

For better or worse, I tend to rely on anticipation as a coping mechanism. Setting dates (what a surprise for a librarian) and looking forward to an event helps to distract me from the occasional drudgery of daily existence. I’m not sure why this is so, but I tend to chalk it up to an early exposure to a certain Heinz ketchup commercial that has forever put a Carly Simon song in my head. And definitely not in a good way.

If you are a fellow devotee of delayed gratification, and enjoy listening to audiobooks, you might want to check out a few of the library’s recent on-order audiobook titles. On-order simply means we have ordered the title, but are waiting for it to be published and sent to us for processing. While the audiobook won’t be on the shelf right now, you can place a hold and look forward to getting the title in the not too distant future.

We have definitely ordered some of the more anticipated audio blockbusters for you to enjoy (by the likes of John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Helen Fielding, Elizabeth George, and Danielle Steel) but I’m going to list a few of the titles that might not be on your radar but that are definitely worth anticipating.

The Abominable by Dan Simmons
abominableIf you were a fan of his novel The Terror, this one looks like a return to form for Dan Simmons. Expect blinding snow storms, lots of history and something wicked lurking just outside the meager warmth of the campfire. This time around, the doomed attempt to find the Northwest Passage is replaced by an attempt to climb Mt. Everest in the 1920s. Simmons’ books are heavy on historical detail but that is what makes them so intriguing. He is also great at building tension and a master of the slow reveal. With this audiobook clocking in at 1770 minutes and 24 discs it should keep you entertained for the longest of road trips. Just go somewhere warm.

ender's game alive 1Ender’s Game Alive by Orson Scott Card
Timed to coincide with the film release of Ender’s Game, this audiobook is a dramatization written by Orson Scott Card and based on his bestselling novel. Being totally new to the Ender’s Game universe I thought this would be a good introduction. The cast is made up of many audiobook narration veterans so it should be a good listen. If you want to delve deeper and listen to various authors, including Orson Scott Card, discuss the Enders universe, you might want to check out Ender’s World: Fresh Perspectives on the SF classic Ender’s Game.

doctor who a historyDoctor Who: A History by Alan Kistler
Are you confused when you try to place each Doctor along the space-time continuum? Having trouble figuring out where the Daleks and Cybermen originated? If you are like me and have just dabbled in the expansive world of Dr. Who, this guide should be a boon. Starting with the first episode in 1963 and continuing all the way to the selection of Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor this work explains everything Dr. Who related. As a side benefit, if you listen to this title it should help with the correct pronunciations of adversaries of the Doctor such as the Ogrons, Autons, Ood, Judoon, Sontarans and Mawdryn.

Hollywood Said No! by Bob Odenkirk & David Cross
hollywood said noThis title has already arrived, but you will have to wait a bit to get it so anticipation is involved. Plus it sounds freaking awesome. Comprised of rejected scripts, sketches, and ideas that were created by Bob Odenkirk & David Cross (the stars of Mr. Show among many other things) but turned down by Hollywood, this is a gem of an audiobook. You could read the book, but why not listen to both authors read the material along with other guest stars as they fully flesh out the material. David Cross has proven himself to be an excellent audiobook narrator, as evidenced on his recording of I Drink for a Reason, so expect great things.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
jekyll and hyde audioDon’t let the “classic” status of this tale scare you away. The original material, before all the films and other permutations, still has the ability to shock and disturb. The real draw here though, is that this audiobook is narrated by Michael Kitchen. You may know him as the star of Foyle’s War among other things, but he has a voice made for narration. His tonal switch from the rational, and smugly confident, Dr. Jekyll to the sinister and bestial Mr. Hyde is quite convincing. It also doesn’t hurt to have an authentic English accent when delivering Victorian prose.

If you want to take a look at all the audiobooks that are on-order and make you own selections do so by all means. Enjoy the anticipation.