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
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
Can’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
If 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
This 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
Now 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
Talk 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.