Why do the T days seem to get all the actions? Throwback Thursdays. Now Top Ten Tuesdays. Yes, it’s been years since this started, but new to me. I don’t know what this happens, but it does, and it provides an excellent starting point for a stuck blogger – ie: me. I borrowed this idea from other bloggers (The Broke and The Bookish seem to be the ringleaders behind this idea). Thanks fellow others.
So, here we go with the first top ten list: Audiobooks
I love audiobooks. This is not news. But what makes a good audiobook? Is it a good story? Yeah, that’s part of it, but a good story can be destroyed by a bad reader. Equally, a good reader can elevate a mediocre book.
Let’s be clear, even a great reader can’t save a bad book.
I know a book is being really well read because – 1: I’m not an idiot 2: I understand my own tastes 3: I listen to the book when I’m in my house. I just wonder around and listen to it while I do everyday stuff.
In no particular order, these are my favourite audiobooks, based on the reader, not the story.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This book has spurred a lot of debate. Lots of people love it. Lots of people hate it. I’m sure the movie will get the same response. I’m in the love category – as I am with everything Flynn has written. I’m currently in the middle of relistening to this and I like it even more the second time around. I love the alternating narrative getting two readers. It makes the two stories more distinct and helps the listener easily identify when the perspective changes.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
What a pleasant surprise this book was. I streamed this audiobook on Hoopla (if your library has this in their digital content, use it – It’s a great service). Libba Bray both wrote and read the book. I’m always a little leery of authors that choose to read their own books. Voice acting is skill. A very different skill than writing. But Libba does it well. She takes a tongue and cheek book and turns it into a crazy delightful read. There are footnotes and sidenotes and she works them all in perfectly.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling
Here’s another example of an author reading their own book, but it’s a memoir, so it’s actually perfect. These are her experiences, so she knows exactly where to put the emphasis in every story. If you don’t know who Mindy Kaling is, this is a great introduction. If you already like The Mindy Project, you’re sure to love this.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Okay… so I said that whole thing about authors not reading their own books and then I listed three in a row (four in this list). But honestly, these are the exceptions. I swear. I’ve listened to a couple of Neil Gaiman’s audiobooks, and while he has this great, melodic tone to all his reading, I think The Graveyard Book is the best. An interesting tidbit I learned at a book reading by another author – who hates reading out loud – Gaiman took classes to create his reading voice. His book voice is apparently nothing like his real voice. Good choice, Neil.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I can’t put my finger on exactly what I love about the reading of this novel, but it’s a good one and you should read it. Just do it.
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
This is a fairly run of the mill, paranormal, young adult book. The cover was what convinced me to pick it up. If I’d read it traditionally, it might not have stuck with me. But the reader turns this into a kind of ethereal experience. It’s her voice, man. Her voice is haunting.
Jonathan Stride series by Brian Freeman
The Jonathan Stride books are a series of cranky crime drama novels by Brian Freeman. They’re entertaining on their own, but the reader makes them super enjoyable. I’ve listen to four of them and if my library had more, I’d listen to those too. Procedural crime drama for the win.
Room by Emma Donoghue
Room is told from the perspective of a young child. So how do you translate this into an audiobook? A five year old obviously isn’t going to be reading the book. And in an adult’s voice, the tone of the book won’t be the same. But here’s where the voice acting thing becomes really apparent. This story is told in a child’s voice. It so well done you forget that there’s no way this is a child. It’s extremely well done.
The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Another author reading his own book! Sherman Alexie tells these great little stories about Aboriginal life in such an authentic voice. He puts on an affected voice for this story, but it perfectly fits the character. It never sounds like he’s making fun of Junior’s story. This is one of the situations that could have gone very (politically incorrectly) wrong, but instead is something great. Alexie makes you fall in love with Junior and his crazy adventure.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Here’s another example of multiple readers in a single audiobook. Ender and Valentine get their own readers, as well as couple of the adults. This continues over the first three books in the series (all I’ve read so far). If I had to choose, this is my favourite audiobook. It’s one of my favourite books. I own it in both formats. If you haven’t read it, just do it.