June is Audiobooks Month and the Bookish Ladies are happy to take this opportunity to gush about one of our favorite things. This isn’t a review, a how to, or even a why you need to listen article. It’s simply our Audiobooks story. How we got into them, why we love them, and some of our favorites.
For the longest time I was under the misconceptions that audiobooks were for old people, people who were visually impaired, or people who were just lazy and didn’t want to “read” books (like those people who watch the movie and consider it the same thing as reading the book–ugh). Then I got my first Kindle and met a group of fellow booklovers who are some of my best book friends (RKB I ❤ you). Not all of them listened to audiobooks, but there were a small but vocal group of heavy listeners who took it upon themselves to explain to the rest of us how wonderful they could be. Then Amazon came out with the Kindle Special Offers Program. Remember that? When the ads on your Kindle were actually awesome? So awesome in fact that you paid extra to add them to your Kindle instead of paying to remove them? Yeah those were the days! Well one of the first KSO’s was 6 Audible credits for $6. Like so many others, I took advantage of that deal and promptly cancelled my subscription. Then Amazon ran a promotion where you got $100 off a Kindle if you subscribed to a year of Audible. Yup, they got me on that one too. But this time I didn’t cancel and 5 years later I’m still a monthly subscriber and the Audible app is the most used one on my phone.
101 Listens later–here are a few of my favorites:
Any of Neil Gaiman’s books that he narrates himself. Seriously. Gaiman has the perfect voice for a storyteller and there is something magical that happens when you listen to him read you his own novels. Try Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book, or The Ocean at the End of the Lane to start.
The Taj Trilogy written by Indu Sundaresan and narrated by Sneha Mathan. The books are lovely on their own but Ms. Mathan’s narration enables you to truly immerse yourself in 16th Century India. Ms. Mathan’s narrations are so good that I’ve sought out other books simply because she is the narrator.
The Outlander Series written by Diana Gabaldon and narrated by Davina Porter. Davina Porter is an integral part of the Outlander experience in my opinion and listeners will not be disappointed.
The End of the Affair written by Graham Greene and narrated by Colin Firth. Colin Firth could read the me the phone book and I’d listen to it on repeat. Let’s just leave it at that.
And last but not least–The Harry Potter Series written by JK Rowling and narrated by Stephen Fry. Yes, I know this is going to piss off some people but Stephen Fry was the first narrator I heard for the novels so he’s my guy. I’m sure Jim Dale is wonderful too.
So the moral of the story–don’t be so quick to judge other booklovers. I know now that I was right and wrong. It is one group of people that listen to audiobooks but those people are bookworms! People who can’t be without books for as long as it takes to drive to work, or wash the dishes, or anything else that stops them from reading. Personally, I listen to audiobooks on my commute, while I’m doing chores (sometimes I think this is the only reason the laundry ever gets done), and while I’m crafting. I’m a background noise kind of person and what better background than a book?
My journey to audiobooks began like all of my reading obsessions … peer pressure from reader friends. Several friends gushed over them and insisted I give them a try. Why hadn’t I tried them before? I didn’t think I could listen to a story. Then I realized my parents read to me when I was little, wouldn’t this be the same thing? My first audiobook was a book I read before to make sure I could follow the story. It’s been a couple of years since that first audiobook and audiobooks remain a big part of my reading life. I listen about an hour daily commuting to/from work. Occasionally I’ll listen while I clean. That certainly makes scrubbing toilets a more pleasant chore. I listen using a MP3 player and portable speaker, both of which are now discontinued models. Fingers crossed that mine never die! This system works well for me since I don’t wish to use my phone.
I don’t seek out audiobooks based on a particular narrator. If I want to read a book and the library has the audiobook and not the eBook, I’ll listen to it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t rate an audiobook based in part on narration. Sometimes narration can make or break a book. Favorite audiobooks include The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, the King and Maxwell series by David Baldacci and Lethal by Sandra Brown. Not only are these stories fantastic but the narration added so much to each story. I’ll never forget the first time real gun fire sounded during one of the Baldacci books. I nearly drove off the road!
I was introduced to audiobooks a few years ago and got completely sucked into them and I’m always that person who is recommending a million audiobooks to everyone I see. I love the way narration can bring to life new aspects of books I never heard before or make a book I wouldn’t have liked all that much into a really great book. My favorite books I wait about 6 months or so after actually reading them the traditional way and then listen to them on audio. I find that I’m generally an excited reader with these books so I race to the end, wanting to find out what happened so I almost always miss some small details and listening to the audiobook version later lets me hear all the facets of the books.
I’m a big fan of the regular audiobooks that I’ve heard many people rave about – Discovery of Witches, narrated by Jennifer Ikeda, Outlander, narrated by Davina Porter and 11/22/63, narrated by Craig Wasson being the top 3 I can think of. But there are many other books I’ve listened to and fallen in love with the narrators so much that I’ve gone out and bought other books narrated by them just because they’re so good! My most recent find like this is Julia Whelan, she narrated a few Nora Roberts books and then I just started picking up a book here and there to listen to her. Khristine Hvam was my first find who narrated Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. She has a wonderful combination of sarcasm and sass that I love. I’ve listened to quite a few books she narrates as well.
You’ve heard our audiobooks stories–what’s yours? Tell us in the comments!