Cherry Saturday, June29, 2019

It’s Audiobook Month.  Here’s a confession: I can’t stand to be read to, so I’ve never heard any of my books on audio.  I have a feeling I might be missing out, though, if there are some books that are actually better in audio than in print.  Any opinions out there? 

78 thoughts on “Cherry Saturday, June29, 2019

  1. I just returned home to Massachusetts from a long driving trip that covered US national parks and a wedding in Seattle.

    I’m not an audio book person at all, but I enjoyed listening to Kenneth Branagh read Samuel Pepys’ diary. I expected monotony but Pepys’ personality comes through strongly. Also, I hadn’t anticipated a plot line, but several of his behaviors which I didn’t like eventually blew up on him. So satisfying.

    Happy to be home, especially after the spate of 9-hour driving days on the way back.

  2. I’ve heard the Illuminae trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff are great in audiobook and done with a lot of different voices. However, I feel like the reading experience of that book (it includes a lot of illustrations) is so different from the audiobook that it probably misses that. (Like how do you explain that someone made an ASCII drawing of a rose made out of the words “I’m sorry?”)

    That said, I’m with you: I don’t like to be “read to” because I’m a speed reader and I rarely listen to audiobooks (also, Audible’s website hates me for some reason). The last one I listened to was Crazy Rich Asians because I wanted to read the book after the movie came out and the library list was looooooooong and I ended up with the audiobook by accident. The CD’s had plenty of skips and damage, so that was not fun.

    1. Books with pictures generally come with a PDF file. Something I didn’t learn until I listened to all of Alan Cummings book fo photography. Silly me.

  3. Bill Bryson reading his Short History of Nearly Everything. Ay better than reading the book to myself. It’s my go to road trip entertainment. It’s so full of fascinating information that when I get to the end, I just start over!

    1. Also, this particular title is peculiarly compelling (although not in the sleepiness way) for small children who will sit down and listen to it if it happens to be playing when they come over for literally hours and then ask about various things (but why did the men fight about who got to name the dinosaurs and name 22 of them the wrong thing?) for months afterward, causing a person to have to do paleontologist feud research and also play it back for them on demand. Luckily they don’t care where it starts or stops, they find all of it interesting much like the rest of us.

  4. I have two conditions for audiobooks:

    1) nothing abridged (it’s the storytelling, not the story, that interests me if that makes sense to anyone else) which you really have to watch out for because very many are abridged. Sometimes they cut subplots, which bring a lot to a story.

    2) the voice of the narrator is appropriate. I don’t necessarily mean from a gender perspective but I took a Tony Hillerman tape out at the library for a long car trip and they had the narrator give Joe Leaphorn some kind of weird Texan drawl instead of a Navajo flavored accent, which was so ghastly I ejected it after 10 mins. (Boy was I glad I’d borrowed and hadn’t bought it.)

    For doing stuff like handwork that requires visual focus (my beading work or lace knitting) audiobooks are great entertainment because you don’t have to keep looking up. Also doing stuff like cleaning, sorting, etc. they can make the time fly.

    I am thinking of getting Michelle Obama’s book on tape because she reads it herself, which I think is just fabulous. She has a very expressive voice and it’s her story, so who better to tell it?

    1. I don’t really listen to audiobooks, but I agree that the voice is really important. They only made two of my Baba Yaga books into audiobooks and I only listened to the first five minutes of the first one, because the voice of the woman reading it was SO wrong for the stories. I had some of my readers complain to me, so it clearly wasn’t just me. I’ve always wondered if that voice is why the books did so badly in audio they never did any of the rest. Argh.

      1. It’s possible that the reader did have that effect, alas. Sucks and I’m sorry.

        There’s an author I like that is ferociously loyal to an audiobook reader that I really, really do not like. (I am in a minority, based on querying friends) If I had come across the audiobooks first I would never have made it past the first 20 minutes of the first title and I am deep into the third and fourth series. They have stuck with her as the reader across multiple narrators and series and I just remember being sadly, strangely relieved that the audiobooks weren’t bundled because – yeah. That aversive. I tend to buy in all formats from authors I like because although I only read the ebook it means I can always loan the dtb and listen to the audio while cooking or knitting or whatever, but not those.

  5. I loathe audio books because so often the narrators turn the book into more of a radio play, putting on different voices for different characters.

    If I’m listening to someone read out loud, then I want just straight reading. No acting. So many people argue with me about how wrong I am on this. How if I just find a narrator I like, then I’ll fall in love with audio books.

    No. For me reading means going deep into the story and into my own mind and imagination. I can only do that if I’m actually reading with my eyes. Listening to a book being read is an entirely different and entirely unappealing experience.

  6. I like to listen to audio books when I am doing something, I can’t just sit and listen. But for long car trips, walking, pulling weeds or housework, they are great.

    Some readers are just fine and don’t add a lot but others are amazing and bring another layer to the story. I have especially liked Kobna Holdbrook-Smith reading Ben Aaronovitch’s books. I hear them in his voice if I read the print copies now. Also Adjoa Andoh reading Ann Leckie’s books.

  7. I’ve loved audio books for years. I first started using them on my daily work commute and have continued to enjoy them in retirement.

    I walk each morning and listening to a book makes the miles fly by. I have a small mp3 player and either download books from my public library via Overdrive or else purchase a book from Audible. Listening to a book also makes household and gardening chores go faster.

    I don’t listen to serious books that require focused concentration and usually choose cozy mysteries with a touch of humor and good character diversity. I really like listening to Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow mysteries which provide a strong female character with an interesting and/or wacky supporting cast of family and friends.

    I’m still a big reader of the printed page, but I’m really glad that I can listen to a good story while doing day to day stuff.

  8. I struggle to read for some reason – can’t get the oomph to pick a book back up, even though I like it. I’ve switched almost exclusively to audio books, and I adore the library app Libby. That being said, there are some narratians that kill the book, and sometimes I gotta stop. My all time favorite is the first Hank the Cow Dog book. Read by the author, politically incorrect in present times, but so much fun. A lot of humor adults get while still being kid friendly. Just maybe listen before sharing since it was written when kid books were as PC.

    I also really really like the Sharing Knife books on audio. My first introduction to Bujold, and i can’t read the books without hearing their audio voices now. CD

    Flavia de Luce books on audio are also fabulous. It took a bit to get in to the narrator at firsr, but boy does she nail the character of Flavia in her voice. Very well done!

    I’d start there. But if they arent your thing, they aren’t your thing. I hated them until I had hour long commutes, then became a convert.

  9. For me the short answer is yes, some books are better in audio when the narrator is particularly good at not just reading the words on the page but bringing them to life in a way that actually adds an oomph. Lorelei King comes to mind. She is fab and also has an acting background (ie Notting Hill).

    That said, my longer answer includes an observation that the audio versions that often work best are tweaked (even unabridged ones). I know because I’ve actually compared my print books to audio duplicates and see where they cleaned up the audio versions some by taking out “saids” and sometimes tidying other excess words so it reads sharper.

    Also, on the flip side, sometimes the wrong reader can take away from the story for me. Or even any reader for some stories because part of the joy of reading for me is that it comes to life in my own head which gets lost when someone else “interprets” for me–as in emphasizing phrases differently than I would or giving characters a “voice” that doesn’t mesh with my sense of them. The exception is when something is read by the author (like an Ann Patchett collection I have) and the emphasis is hers so works to add something personal to the audiobook.

    So my rec if you’re exploring is to listen to the audio sample before taking an audiobook so you’ll know if the reader works for you. Then you may find it’s nice to add a few to your reading pile and try a listen while you cook or something. Also, another tip is that if you’re doing an audible subscription to note that audiobooks are returnable so not really much risk to giving them a go.

  10. I mostly read print books, but I have really enjoyed audiobooks also. In particular, the Harry Potter books have an excellent voice with Jim Dale (I read the print books first, but my young nephew and his family LOVED listening to the audiobooks, and I listened right along with them).

    I started Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Heart Goes Last as an audiobook on a long drive to the coast with a friend. I had to finish it in book form (the trip ended before the audiobook ended). It was a totally different experience reading vs. listening. (In this case, I liked the audio version MUCH better; darkly humorous and incisive).

    I am a fast reader and completing an audiobook is much slower. But the right voice can make the audiobook a wonderful experience. And the audiobooks have been a huge help for a woman in our book club who has developed problems with her vision due to Parkinson’s disease.

    1. Totally agree that Jim Dale did a wonderful job narrating the Harry Potter series. The first 8 in the Harry Dresden series by Butcher are really well done too!

      1. Dresden Files are read by James Marsters, aka Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He’s outstanding.

  11. Audio books are great for the blind. Mom and I listened to The Careful Man, a short story by Fredrick Forsyth many, many times. It was her favourite story while in long term care. I would read to her as well. Since I inherited a “high imagination” from Mom, we both could visualize the story.

    Also great for gardening, walking, sorting, long trips, etc.

    While listening to Faking It, I “heard” something which sharpened or enhanced the scene. The right narrator makes all the difference.

    1. Was thinking about what I “heard” in Faking It. A turning point! Re-reading Jenny’s books is a master class in breaking down the story. Listening to the story is another way to take it apart. Of course, reading the novel the first time is pure pleasure.

  12. I have listened to very few audiobooks. I like Stephen Fry’s reading of Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile. That one is a lot of fun to listen to.

    I’d tried an old Elizabeth Lowell audio read by a female narrator many years ago but can’t remember any major dislikes. She changed her vocal tone for male and female and different characters without sounding like a mimic. That was pleasant. I love that audiobooks are so valuable for disability access. I just wish they were cheaper here and more people knew about them as an option.

  13. I tend to listen to audiobooks on my commute to/from work–only 20 minutes each way, but it works well enough. I prefer to read most books myself because I read so much faster than the narrator can without getting into dog whistle range.

    I’ve really enjoyed the Spotless series by Camilla Monk as read by Amy McFadden. They are written in first person POV anyway, and McFadden does so well with Island’s voice.

    Currently, I’m loving the audiobook of Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, enough so that I’m listening to it after I get home from work and not just saving it for driving time.

  14. Books I wouldn’t generally like can win me over with a good narrator. I like the guy who does Ayn Rand stuff; he’s so bland and whitebread it’s perfect.

    Remains of the Day was another one I’m not sure I would’ve sought out lately without the narrator.

    Basically, Simon Prebble and Simon Vance are my go-to. I couldn’t finish an ecopy of Bleak House despite loving the BBC version, but I’m enjoying the ueck out of it on audio.

    Do not get: the sequel to the Witches of Eastwick. The narrator pronounces at least two words wrong immediately. So upsetting.

  15. I listen to audiobooks on long car drives, as well as my hour-long commute. I find that my listening choices are different from my reading choices — love scenes are weird to listen to, so I listen to more mysteries then romances. Worst audiobook choice ever was listening to “Silence of the Lambs” while driving through the pitch-darkness of an autumn evening on a back country road — it flicked my residual woman-traveling-alone paranoia into high-gear, and I thought every blur out of the corner of my eye was Dr. Lector coming after me.

  16. For the longest time I listened to audiobooks while driving to work, going for walks, and doing anything, like housework and gardening, that didn’t need full concentration. That way I got my stories while getting things done. Then I got a new car that doesn’t have a cd player and the library changed its audiobook provider, so I cannot download audio to my computer and then transfer them to an MP3 player, so I am somewhat in a audiobook desert. I figured out how to link my CD player in my car so I have something to listen to that helps me stay alert for long distance commutes but I’m still out of luck for any other activities.

  17. Like others, I read faster than an audio narrator can talk, so for me the problem with audiobooks is either they bore me so I quit, or I get sucked in and then I have to track down a physical copy because reading it myself is so much faster. I can count on one hand the number of audiobooks i’ve listened to from beginning to end.

    The exception is kids books, maybe because it reminds of having been read to as a child. I’ve loved Harry Potter, Tiffany Aching, Flavia de Luce, Sabriel and sequels, and right now i’m listening to Wishes and Wellingtons, which has a very feisty heroine and the same narrator as Flavia. The audible app somehow allows you to speed up the narration without raising the pitch —techno magic. I start at 1.25x speed and then once i’ve got the hang of the names and the setup, I can manage 1.5 speed pretty easily.

  18. (H’llo: I’ve been lurking and only recently begun to post. What a great community you have here!)

    I began listening to audible when I worked in China for three years, also reading ebooks. I’m not sure what I would have done without such access (no source of English reading material except online [and internet was SLOW] and very few people around me who spoke any English).

    I’ve carried on since my return and typically listen when driving or before I go to sleep when my eyes are tired. As someone has already pointed out, you can return books to Audible if they don’t work for you and also listen to them for five minutes before hand to see whether you like the narrator.

    When well read (and I don’t mean acted, that’s another story), the books provide me with hours of entertainment when I most need it, many of them (such as the Crusie novels, as well as Raeburn, Bujold, Ngaio Marsh, Chase, French) I have listened to more than once. Of course, that doesn’t keep me from reading these books as well. For me, reading and listening are entirely different experiences. Listening sometimes requires more concentration, especially when the text is more challenging (Iain Pears, Stegner), but not always. It’s wonderful to have the choice.

  19. For the most part I can only listen to non-fiction audiobooks, but I’ve heard some very engaging fiction produced by GraphicAudio, the company that does all The Prince’s audiobooks. They’re recorded more like old radio plays with an ensemble cast who do a great job of bringing the stories to life in a way that single narrator can’t accomplish for me.

    1. Whoever drives decide what we listen to. I listened to critical nursing tapes to prepare for a test. My daughter could parrot back how to interpret blood gases. My husband discovers audio books. When he drives we listen to Robert Jordan. I get to listen to chapters. I think there are 18 books. Payback is a bitch.

  20. Anything read by Will Patton, Barbar Rosenblat, or Tony Roberts (actor) is a treat for the ears. I almost forgot Sarah Vowell – what a hoot. David McCullough is great for mixed generation drives across the country.

    The Janet Evanovich audio books are fingernails on the chalkboard and J. D. Robb books are not much better in audio format.

    The Crusie books – well, they are simply better to read rather than to listen. The minor exception is Coffee at Luke’s. Very minor. Except, is it a fair comparison when the others are stories which we expect to sweep us away while CAL is a narrative to inform us and help us see something in quite possibly an entirely new light?

  21. I find I get impatient with audio books, maybe because I tend to be a fast reader. Mind you, I haven’t experimented with them much. The woman they had read my first two Baba Yaga books was dreadful, and I only made it a coupe minutes in without wanting to scream.

    The only audio story I’ve heard that amused me immensely was a short “children’s” book narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, called Go the F–k to Sleep. It is hysterical, if you don’t mind profanity.

  22. I would have chewed through my car’s steering wheel — but for audiobooks— horrible commute. I suspect that this isn’t a good Jenny recommendation, but I love (sincerely love) the Terry Pratchett audiobooks, especially Going Postal, Theif of Time, and Thud.

    I am completely stunned that no one has recommended the Girl Genius Agatha H series. All three are huge fun. I haven’t seen any news about the series continuing; I am very sad. These are read by my favorite narrator (who also did several of Jenny’s books), Angela Dawe. She’s all in, and does an amazing job with the accents and the really large cast of characters.

    Ms Dawe also narrates the Anne Perry novel The Sheen on the Silk. Not so over-the-top, but a really engaging story, to me. I like series you might try the Bowen Royal Spy-ness novels, and the Amelia Peabody novels (another awesome narrator Barbara Rosenblat), and the Vicki Bliss series. Charlene Harris’ Midnight, Texas series is fun too, if you want supernatural.

    It may just reflect my own limited experience of life, but there are books that I have listened to on audio that I am pretty sure I would not have enjoyed on the page because I would have got the ‘tone’ of them wrong.

    OK, Jenny stop reading please… I am going to recommend the audiobook of Agnes and the Hitman. I think the narrator nails all of the characters. I listen to my favorite titles multiple times, and I bet that my count for this one is in the double digits.

    Thanks for asking, I love audiobooks. Ping me if you need my rant about self-help books. 😉

    1. Agnes and the Hitman is a favourite book and audio book. Another Jenny book is Wild Ride, narrator was terrific. Actually all Jenny’s audiobooks have great narrators.

  23. I do like audiobooks when I’m doing something else – knitting or making “magazines” for the girls or slogging through paperwork. I like old radio plays and new radio plays (a friend’s dad got me hooked on them as a kid and they are wicked fun to bake to), but when it comes to books I prefer either non-fiction or something I’ve read before, so I have a wide ranging and massive collection.

  24. I’m a huge audiobook reader, as I guess a lot of you already know by now. I’ve read audiobooks and talking books as long as I can remember. I also absolutely LOVE to be read to. Some of my best, most cherished childhood memories are of my father reading Harry Potter to me and doing all the voices. <3 I was 19 when we finished the last book. Oh and our teacher reading books to us at school when we were middlegraders. She had many lovable qualities and that was definitely one of them!

    I did read braille books in school and, when I could still see a little, also "normal" books and comics magnified with a special device called a MagniLink – a camera magnifying everything I put under it to many times it's normal size, projecting it onto a monitor. Those were the days…
    Carrying braille books around isn't very handy though – they are large and heavy and one page normal print is 3,5 pages of braille, approximately, which makes a lot of volumes for just one book. I think the 4th Harry Potter is something like 12 volumes. Not something you bring with you on vacation… Audiobooks, on the other hand…! 🙂

    I'm the opposite to Diane, I can't stand narrators that doesn't even try to put life into the book. For some reason, the Swedish and Dutch talking book library are very fond of those, which sometimes spoils good reading for me. Only straight reading is not for me – unless it's a news article. I can't "make my own voices" in my head if someone reads like a zombie, it only annoys me. I do, however, prefer to read nonfiction with my computer's computerized synthesizer voice (unless the author reads it themself). I don't like speech synthesizers that try to sound human.

    I read most genres in audio, except horror…because horror is not my thing. Your books are great in audio, Jenny. For some I had to get used to the narrators at first, but they are all very, very good and are definitely making the books justice. No worries there!

  25. I highly recommend Diana Wynne Jones Howl’s Moving Castle narrated by Jenny Sterlin and Enchanted Glass narrated by Steven Crossley. But I think most anything is improved with a British Accent.

    1. Jenny Sterlin reads all kinds of stuff and one of the great things is I never think “oh, Jenny Sterlin”, I think “wow, fantastic narrator” and then it’s Jenny Sterlin again.

  26. For the most part, I love audio books but, again, the narrator makes or breaks it.

    I’ve only ever listened to the Flavia De Luce books by Alan Bradley, I’ve never read them. Same with Louise Penny’s Gamache books. In that series, the narrator passed away and then they had to find a new guy. That took some adjusting.

    I download them from the library and put them on when I’m making supper or doing chores around the house as well as on long drives. Which reminds me, the cat goes to the vet on Tuesday and I need a new book!

  27. I don’t care for audio books. One of mine had an audio option and I tried to listen to it. Wanted to light a fire under the narrator. He was so, so boring, and sounded old and tired. Ha ha.
    Just took my son and his girlfriend for brunch at at the Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga, California. Like dining in a tree house. Great food too. Now I’m sitting here stuffed to the gills, yet I have errands to run. Later. Maybe later.

  28. I rarely listen to audiobooks, but when I do, I always think I should do so more often – they make doing housework seen like sitting on my backside reading, it’s great.

    I originally tried audiobooks to try and get that distracted feeling when running longer distances (1-2 hours) but it didn’t work. I ran slower and my mind kept wandering into how hard running was and I’d lose the story.

    The audiobook of Welcome to Temptation is excellent. Really really great, and you get different things from it in audio than print.

    I’ve heard very good things about the audiobook of The Fifth Season by N.K Jemison, but I’ve been wanting more frivolous reads so I haven’t tried it.

    My favourite is

      1. I think I’ll just leave it hanging there. Mwah ha ha.

        (That’s my evil Jafar laugh. By the way, loving the twist in the live action Aladdin.)

  29. Can’t stand audiobooks or podcasts or talk radio or even commercials. It’s an auditory/sensory processing tic for me and I get agitated and cranky as hell. Not even sultry RICHARD ARMITAGE voice will persuade me to listen to an audiobook.

  30. I, too, cannot stand being read to (except by my mother; even my father and my grandparents, excellent story-tellers, were rejected as readers), and I also have hearing issues that make listening to words while doing things with background noise (like cooking ,or cleaning, or gardening, or even eating–the chewing noise interferes) much too difficult. I used to listen to tech podcasts, not narratives, while mowing my yard, but I had to turn the sound up so high it was painful. (Now that I’ve moved I have to hire someone to mow.) In the car I prefer music.

  31. Barbara Rosenblat, who’s done a lot of Elizabeth Peters audio books, is very good.
    Wil Wheaton (Wesley on STNG) is also very enjoyable. He’s done a number of John Scalzi’s books. But I think my favorite is the narrator (can’t think of his name) of David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter mysteries. He really brings the characters to life.

    1. Grover Gardner. He also reads the Vorkosigan series and the Penric novellas (Lois McMaster Bujold). I think he’s great.

  32. Oh, I’m an audio girl. Sara Mackie, who did my first three books, was wonderful. But she’s too busy to do them anymore. I’m not sure what I’ll do now.

    I hardly ever read books anymore. It’s sad really because I love to read, but I always have so much to do that I can’t get comfortable just sitting and reading. A good reader makes audiobooks delightful. The worst is when you’ve been listening to a series and they change readers and it’s BAD. That just breaks my heart because I know I’m never going to get around to actually reading them.

  33. I have always loved being read to. My parents read poetry to me as a child, but the real star was my 6th-grade teacher, who read us the Chronicles of Prydain. She was a wonderful narrator, right down to the voices.

    I have a hard time just sitting down and reading a book anymore. I feel vaguely guilty that I’m not doing something productive. (Which is ridiculous, of course.)

    I listen to audiobooks when I’m out walking. I will add distance so I can get more of the story. I don’t try to listen to anything that requires too much concentration, so lots of mysteries/romances, etc. Autobiographies read by the writer are good too.

    Bill Bryson’s Tales of the Thunderbolt Kid was good. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is fantastic reading the Rivers of London series. I hear his narration when I read the print version, particularly Peter. Simon Prebble is good, full stop. Barbara Rosenblat is a great reader for the Amelia Peabody series.

  34. I listened to my first audiobook about three weeks ago. I’m not a big fan of being read to and, frankly, I have enough voices in my head, I don’t need to add to them.

    I probably would have remained audio-free, but the ebook I was reading (Louise Penny’s Kingdom of the Blind) came with the audio version free and since the book is peppered with words in French, I wanted to hear them pronounced (since I knew my attempts at mental pronoun citation were far off the mark.)

    At first, the speed of the reading annoyed me (though I did see that I there were settings to change that). I did a lot of flipping back and forth between the audio version and the eBook.

    After a bit though, I found I rather liked it. It probably helps that I adore Penny’s books. The narrataor’s voice is quite good and very calming. After a bit, I found the slower speed gave me a chance to really savor the story, rather than racing through it as I tend to do when reading myself. As a bonus, I could crochet while listening (I finished making four pillows and a portion of an afghan while listening).

    I’ve subequently listened to several more of her books. I’m actually finding it quite restful and a nice way to unwind at the end of the day.

    I’m not likely, however, to rush out and start listening to everything, but it’s a nice change of pace. I did also listen to Members of the Committee, which felt perfectly suited to being read aloud as it featured a single character.

    I’m on the list at the local library for a copy of Michelle Obama’s audiobook, but since there are over 800 people ahead of me, it will be a long time before it’s my turn.

  35. Audiobooks. I love them. Ebooks. I love them. Treebooks. Love ’em, but the others are less expensive and take up considerably less room, which is a current concern.

    I have in the neighborhood of 1500 ebooks. A third of those haven’t been read nor likely ever will be – they were parts of bundles that contained titles I wanted. Audiobooks are closing in on 150, but they’re all titles I wanted, and except for a handful, I owned first as ebooks. ALL of Crusie. ALL of Bujold. Most of Heinlein. Non fiction “Great Courses.”

    Some narrators are better than others. (Some suck.)

    Do I read faster than most narrators? Yes, I do. As someone pointed out, the Audible app lets you speed it up. With the new car, I think I can play CDs or connect my Kindle. That’d be shiny.

  36. Daisy Jones and the Six is a really good audiobook. The story is told through interviews and there is a voice “actor” for each character. It’s a really compelling way to tell this particular story. Pretty much any Gaiman book is great as an audiobook because he does the audio version.
    Mostly I listen to books that I don’t have the patience to read, but there are some like Gaiman’s that it’s just a pleasure to listen.

  37. Already mentioned, so I’m just seconding: Kobna Holdbrook Smith doing the Rivers of London books, James Marsters doing Harry Dresden, and the woman who does Flavia Deluce.

    Not mentioned yet: Neil Gaiman reading his own stuff.

  38. No. I don’t like them. Not even James Acaster reading his book. But I’d give anything Stephen Fry a whirl.

    I prefer podcasts and radio plays (the plays are Doctor Who/some Blake’s Seven). But I can’t stand terrible voices in podcasts, and vocal creak drives me up the wall.

    However, give me something clever and funny and I’m there in podcast world (Beef & Dairy Network, Meet My Friends the Friends, No Such Thing as a Fish, Infinite Monkey Cage, Mission to Zyxx, to name some).

    1. James Acaster without the faces and body language would be hard. I sure wish Stephen Fry would do his mythology title or they would release it in the US if available in UK/EU.

  39. Audiobooks during commutes save my sanity. I started out listening to non-fiction/self-help/instructional books since those are often harder for me to sit still for when I read them. Eventually, I listened to fiction narrations if I didn’t have time to finish reading a novel before my book club meeting, although it can take up to 30 minutes before I get used to a narrator’s voice. Some of the first ones that got me hooked on listening to fiction are Ready Player One and the Chaos Walking series so maybe it’s actually more of a YA thing for me. Of course, listening to audiobooks didn’t stop me from reading. I got more time to enjoy more books. What’s not to love about that?

  40. I love listening to audiobooks while I knit or do other creative things. I find that I most enjoy listening to books that I have already read. Why? First, because I read fast and I tend to get impatient with audiobooks when I want to race to the end. If I already know what happens, I can relax and enjoy the ride. Second, because if I get distracted by what I’m doing – if I’m counting stitches for example – it won’t matter if I miss anything. When I try to listen to something new on audiobook, I frequently have to hit the rewind button. Books I enjoy on audiobook: Ilona Andrews books are great; her narrator, Renee Raudman, is excellent. I love all of her series on audio, especially the Hiden Legacy series. Patricia Brigg’s Mercy series is great on audio. So are Anne Bishop’s Other novels, Bujold’s Vorkosigan novels, and Wen Spencer’s Tinker books. The Martian was fantastic in audio (one of the few I listened to before reading). Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime are good examples of author-narrated books that work (most authors shouldn’t read their work for audio in my opinion). I always listen to a sample before I buy because some narrators make my teeth grind and drop me out of the story.

  41. A few years back, I just didn’t get the appeal of audiobooks. Speed reading is my superpower, and I have no patience so I didn’t understand how people put up with the delayed gratification. But then I decided to try the Audible free introductory offer on the basis I had nothing to lose, and downloaded James Marsters doing one of The Dresden Files. He’s brilliant – the Spike accent is not representative – and it’s so easy to get lost in the story, especially with books I’ve already read. I use them to unwind and switch my brain off before I go to sleep. I guess I’m reverting to childhood, but it really works. I can also recommend Stephen Fry, Neil Gaiman and Steve West.

  42. There are a lot of things going against audiobooks for me.
    One: I can’t cook and listen and a lot of my chores are like that — I can’t hear the audiobooks over the noise of work.
    Two: I can’t concentrate and multitask. Listening to music while I clean is one thing (and to tell the truth, I often skip the music, too); I feel that I can “skim” because I’ll listen to my favorite music over and over. But any audio books I read will be new, and I can’t “skim”.
    Three: So, if I’m going to sit down and listen to an audiobook, I might as well watch a movie. I like my sound AND vision.
    Four: Time is always a problem. I just looked up the *Bet Me* audiobook, and apparently it clocks in at just under 12 hours. I can read it in half the time, and that includes time spent “rewinding” in my head.

    I don’t know. With the way my eyesight is going, I may wind up a fan of audiobooks at some point. But right now, it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle.

    Perhaps . . . perhaps short stories would work better for people like me. I really loved the Lake Woebegone CDs, and my friend gave me a recording of Strega Nona and other stories. Maybe Thurber would be nice for driving. In the country. Or Erma Bombeck.

  43. I don’t listen to audio books but for long car trips we listened to Garrison Keillor stories from Lake Wobegon who is much better in audio than print. And Car Talk.

  44. The Libby app for libraries (from Overdrive) let’s you change the speed, too!

    I forgot to mention, one of my favorite male voices is Stefan Rudnicki. He does some Orson Scott Card, and his voice is fabulously deep!

    1. And horror and scary stories while driving in the dark. Perfectly scary! Heeheehee The Yellow Wallpaper is actually a really good listen, too!

  45. Jenny Lawson (the Bloggess) reading her own books is perfect – her personality always comes through in her writing, but hearing her actual voice turns it up to eleventy.

  46. When my sweetie and I had one iPod between us, in the days before smartphones, it was dubbed the IPod of Domesticity because whoever was doing the worse housework got to use it for podcasts and we rapidly switched to only doing housework while listening to something.

    Since a lot of the weekly chores in my childhood were kept for a family favorite radio show, turned up high all over the house, this is not a really new thing in the world. I don’t know if being able to time-shift is good, because it allows flexibility, or bad, because as *everything* allows flexibility it gets harder to keep to any good habits. Probably different for different people!

    I also listen to books I don’t really love while doing chores. Oddly, books I really love the audiobook version of I keep for falling back asleep — when I am awake and the brain is starting that useless whizz, I put on sleepers’ headphones (they’re built into a soft headband) and set the book for 30 minutes and listen to the prose sentence by sentence. And I fall back asleep. “Patch me again my threadbare sleep”!

  47. I feel silly asking, but…those of you listening while you do chores: Are you using earbuds/headphones?

    I don’t listen during my commute, since it’s all of 60 seconds. And listening while walking, I’d likely step in front of a car.

    But people keep mentioning these great podcasts. Maybe I could listen while dusting and Swiffering. Or I could just keep singing show tunes.

    1. I use earbuds and listen during everything but vaccumming and scrubbing the shower. It’s great and ensures I miss less since it’s stuffed in my ears.

    2. I recently bought a wifi speaker to replace my old hifi that was faulty. I can now hear podcasts and radio while I’m cooking.

      1. Should have explained: it’s portable as well as wireless, so I can move it around the house and throw music or podcasts to it from my iPad.

  48. howdy,

    Harry Potter by Jim Dale or anything read by Neil Gaiman (particularly his short stories)

  49. Also, use Libby when borrowing audiobooks from library – fantastic app, available instantly on phone or computer. And lots of amazing suggestions (plus no skips)

  50. Some of my fave listens — eye problems got me started, and I’m very picky about word pronunciation, speech rhythm, language accents. Better a straightforward Grover Gardner reading naughty Miles Vorkosigan than a (names withheld, Thumper Rabbit rules) butchered French accent and limping phraseology.
    Laura Kinsale narrated by Nicholas Boulton. Whew!! Fetch my fan!
    Ruth Downie tec novels set in Roman Britain, Gaul, Italy. “Medicus”. Simon Vance could read a laundry list and please my ears. Spunky Budica (sp) relative heroine.
    Colin Cotterill’s Dr. Siri Praiboun mysteries, reader Clive Chafer. “The Coroner’s Lunch” as starter, set in post war Laos, hilarious ironic voices speaking truth despite government propaganda, main characters octogenerian survivors of war, thumb to nose at fate and making mischief. I dwell gladly among them.
    Barabara Hambly’s Benjamin January tec series. “A Free Man of Color” starter.
    Walter Mosley, “Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned” read by Paul Winfield. The premise sounds ghastly, a rightly jailed killer jumps bail and busses to California to reconstruct himself as a good citizen. His name, Socrates Fortlow. Read the NYT review. Many interrogations of what it means to love, to be ethical. GHE.

  51. To the extent that I read celebrity books (not extensively, but when I’m especially interested or hear good stuff), I always enjoy listening to the author read them. Especially true for comedians – like Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, and Tina Fey’s Bossypants – there’s something about hearing a well known person tell you the story that feels more interesting than reading it to me. Plus, then I can enjoy it on a walk. I recently borrowed the audio version of Michelle Obama’s Becoming from the library and felt like I got more out of it hearing it in her voice than I would have reading it.

    But for general fiction, the audio version is much more hit or miss for me.

  52. I’m late to this party but my favorite wasn’t mentioned: Juliette Stevenson reading Jane Austen (any of them). I’m a librarian and when people tell me they can’t get through Pride and Prejudice, I recommend JS. She makes the language flow so that it makes sense to our modern ears.

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