The Scarlet Corset

Audio Books Need Love Too

Posted by Wanderer on September 16, 2009

I recently read a blog post on my phone about audio books but didn’t save the link or my browser history so I have no way to reference it here. Nonetheless, I want to thank that poster for reminding me that audio books need love too! I know several people who have tried audio books and found they didn’t work for them. The reasons vary from audio books being too slow paced, to it being hard to listen to a male narrator attempt a female voice and vice versa. That’s ok, there are several reasons why audio books don’t work for some but I’m here to focus on why I like them. There’s a lot of support for e-books (which I also support) but I figured it’s time to show some support for yet another alternative….the spoken word.

I became a fan of audio books about 3 years ago after a co-worker shared one of his with me. I haven’t looked back since. A good audio book will play like a movie in your mind. It can be a calming yet entertaining companion on a long commute. It can keep the family entertained and peaceful on a road trip. What makes a good audio book? Of course the story has to be interesting but the real thing that can make or break it is the narrator. A great narrator will take you on a journey from chapter to chapter, making each character come to life in their own unique way. After listening to a few audio books you’ll figure out the narrators you like and can then search for books they have recorded. I have found several new authors using this method.

Here is a tiny peek at the variety of audio books and narrators available to you. Please click on the title for more information and to hear a sample from each book:

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (unfortunately I couldn’t find a sample anywhere online)

This was my very first audio book download and talk about luck of the draw! It was a case of perfect narrator and story material. C.J. Critt (probably my 2nd favorite narrator) does a great job of differentiating the characters and capturing the essence of the book. I listened to most of the Stephanie Plum series and they were a blast. There is a change of narrator in the middle books but after a while, I got used to the new voice.

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

I started one version of this but the narrator didn’t work for me. Someone mentioned another version by Susan Ericksen and that’s the one I enjoyed. You’ll come across this sometimes where different publishers will put out their own recording. Ms. Ericksen’s narration is a perfect compliment to Ms. Robb’s story.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

This was my first audio book with an ensemble cast: Jennie Ikeda, Barbara McCulloh, Richard Poe, Tom Stechschulte, Carol Monda, Julia Gibson and Andy Paris. The change between narrators follows the format of the book where each part changes point of view. I thought the story was interesting until the end where Ms. Picoult shows her penchant for twists. So based on narration alone, I’d recommend this book. As for the novel, I’ll be honest and tell you the ending pissed me off. 🙂

Dead Ringer by Lisa Scottoline

This was my first book by Ms. Scottoline and my first narrated by Barbara Rosenblat, my all time favorite narrator! Ms. Rosenblat brings each character to life with distinct tones and inflections and provides a wonderful listening experience. I think Ms. Scottoline’s books are on the ‘ok’ level but I listened to a lot of them because they were narrated by Ms. Rosenblat. In fact, Ms. Rosenblat is one narrator that I’ve Googled to find what other books she has recorded.

Rain Fall by Barry Eisler

One thing I love is having a book in both electronic and audio format. There are times when I am unable to read but want to continue the story and audio books allow me this freedom. This was the case with Rain Fall. I was reading on my ereader when I was called away for another task. I was able to switch on my ipod and continue the story while working. Jeff Harding’s narration is a perfect accompaniment to Mr. Eisler’s fast-paced plot. When I was reading, I would pause at the Japanese names and phrases trying to pronounce them whereas Mr. Harding delivers them smoothly.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

This is the first book in the Southern Vampire series and the narrator is Johanna Parker. Ms. Parker does a decent enough southern accent in her portrayal of Sookie Stackhouse and paired with Ms. Harris’ writing, this is a fun ride that holds the listener’s attention.

Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

This audio book has two narrators, Susie Breck and Dick Hill. Both are excellent at voicing their characters but they also add little things here and there to make it more real. If a character cracks a joke, the other one will have laughter in his/her voice as he/she responds. If one is eating something, you’ll hear the chewing as they speak. However, these added elements don’t always work. I’ve tried Graphic Audio’s production of Alex Archer’s Rogue Angel series but their sound affects are too over the top for me. I don’t need to hear the car door slamming or action music before something big happens. It’s way too distracting.

So if you’re game to try an audio book my advice is to start at your local library. It probably has an ignored audio book section waiting for a friendly visitor or even better, your library could have access to online audio book websites like NetLibrary or OverDrive. These sites offer audio books for download at no cost. This way you can avoid one of the major drawbacks of audio books: the high prices. If you try one through your library and discover it’s not for you, you can simply return it. No harm, no foul. If you find you do enjoy audio books and want a larger selection than what’s available to your library, is one of the top places to shop.

Have you tried an audio book? Are you a fan? What are some of your favorites?


7 Responses to “Audio Books Need Love Too”

  1. Mandi said

    I have never tried audio..and I should. For the amount of time I spend cleaning my house doing laundry, driving etc..I could be listening to a book. Going to the library to start is a good idea. Nice post:)

  2. Mistress said

    Due to your influence I fell into audiobooks a lil over a year ago and it's been love ever since. My only additions to your list are Neil Gaimen's The Graveyard Book and Neverwhere. They are freakign awesome. That man can read me a story any… and I mean N E time he wantz, lmao.

  3. Wanderer said

    Mandi – yet another great way to experience an audio book. Definitely can make cleaning a little less painful 😉

    Mistress – I have The Graveyard Book but just haven't listened to it yet. It will be my first Neil Gaimen experience. Sounds like it'll be a memorable one 😀

  4. Donna [Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings] said

    I've tried listening to The Host, Storm Front and My Soul to Lose, I ended up having to rewind a dozen times or more. My mind just drifts, I think I'm too ADD to listen to audio books. 'Cuz come on, who couldn't listen James Marsters? He has a great voice. *sigh*

  5. Wanderer said

    Donna – glad you gave them a good try though! Most people quit after their first one. I'll admit there are moments when my mind will drift and that's when I know I can't listen to the audio book at that moment. One thing I definitely know is I can't listen to one in bed. No matter how good the story or narrator, I drift off to sleep. I usually listen to a book as I do something else. I guess the best example is like driving and talking with a passenger. You obviously have to be focused on the driving but that doesn't stop from following the flow of the conversation. I can still get the task done and follow the book.

    Oooh, James Marsters – don't think I've listened to a book he's read yet. Will have to change that soon 🙂

  6. anidaadler said

    One kind of book I think lends itself perfectly to audio is autobiography. I listened to Stephen King's "On Writing", and it was great to hear his own words in his voice. And yes, I know it's not strictly an autobiography, but it's close. (c:

  7. Wanderer said

    Anida – Good idea! Plus, this is one genre I haven't tried yet. I know for fiction novels it usually doesn't work to have the author read the story but I think it's great for this type of thing and other autobiographies. I'm going to check my library and see what's available.

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