Total Pageviews

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Well-Spoken Audio Book: Recommendations

Posted by Cary H.

I started listening to audio books when I began working at the library.  We have such a great collection of audio books in a variety of formats – CD, MP3, PlayAways, and downloadable – that I had no excuses not to give them a try.  Also, when you are surrounded by books all day you tend to read two or three at a time.  An audio book allowed me to listen in my car, and at home while exercising. Win-Win!

Instead of reviewing just one audio book here, I’d like to offer several I think many would enjoy because the narrator/reader is as good as the story.  This is important, because poor reading quality can ruin an audio book.  It is quite a skill to read voices for a cast of characters without sounding ridiculous or overdone.  Only subtle changes are necessary to detect each character voice and I give these audio book readers five stars.  For some reason I usually prefer male readers over female, and most on my reviewed list follow that trend. 

On Writing by Stephen King (read by Stephen King).  If you are not a King fan please stay with me here.  This popular book is an all-around enjoyable read, and listening to it in King’s quirky voice makes it even better.  Part memoir, part writing how-to, King parlays his famous storytelling ability into an inspiring work that everyone can enjoy.  You don’t have to be a writer or a horror fiction fan to truly enjoy this audio book – trust me!  I listen to this one over again.

The “Prey Series” by John Sandford (read by Richard Ferrone).  Lucas Davenport is the very tough, charismatic, likable Minnesota detective in this long running series.  Sandford’s 25th “Prey” title will be published this spring, and all are available in audio so you have lots of listening enjoyment to look forward to!  One of the reasons for the longevity of this series is the evolution of Davenport’s character over time.  Richard Ferrone is so spot-on when reading Davenport’s dialogue (as well as his co-workers and the criminals) that you believe the characters are real, and that if you drove to Minnesota you’d likely meet them on the street.  Sandford has a great way of introducing the criminals early, but even though you know who did it, this takes nothing away from the tension and action as Davenport’s team chases them down.  I dare you not to get hooked.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (read by Neil Gaiman)Here we have another wonderful storyteller reading his own work.  As many of you know, Gaiman is British and his voice is deep and resonant.  He lures you into this story and I found myself in an almost trance-like state (maybe this one not the best choice while driving!) This is a tale about the mysteries and magic of our youth that can travel with us into adulthood.   Gaiman “makes the impossible all too real” in this lovely book.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson  (read by Bernadette Dunne)Both Gaiman and King have listed Shirley Jackson as an early inspiration to their works.  She is most well known for her books (later turned into movies) The Haunting of Hill House, a “literary ghost story” that was on the short list for the National Book Award in 1959, and The Lottery.  Both are great books – psychologically creepy with violence simmering near the surface, but with no need of  monsters or blood and guts – and she has a great way of updating the classic gothic of Hawthorne and Poe to modern readers.  We Have Always Lived in the Castle centers around the remains of a once dominant family moldering away in their isolation and idiosyncrasies in an equally moldering big house.  Crimes were committed in the past, but not punished, and the villagers have not forgotten or forgiven.   Did the eldest daughter murder four of her relatives all those years ago?  Why is the younger daughter so odd?  The beauty of the story is not in solving the mystery, but in shining a light on the weaknesses and strengths of people.  The story “emerges less as a study in eccentricity and more . . . as a powerful critique of the anxious, ruthless processes involved in the maintenance of normality [of human existence] itself."  Read this Shirley Jackson – in fact, read them all!

No comments:

Post a Comment