Inspired by Greg’s excellent post about how great audiobooks are (you should read his post if you haven’t already), I figured I’d chime in with my own thoughts on audiobooks. I agree with everything Greg said, but, like a regular book, don’t be afraid to stop the book and move on to something else if you don’t like it. One book I tried listening to was You had me at Woof by Julie Klam. Great title. Great cover. Couldn’t stand the narrator. So, I started listening to Ulysses instead. (Listen, I’m sure it made sense at the time.)
Bad narrators can ruin a book for you, but good narrators can help you enjoy stories, even ones you’ve read before, in a totally different way. Here are five audiobooks (and narrators) I really enjoyed. Each of these is available on CD through Heights Libraries or digitally through Overdrive.
Norse Mythology written and narrated by Neil Gaiman
One of the funniest things I’ve heard all year is Gaiman telling the story of how Thor got his hammer, Mjolnir. His retelling of classic tales from Norse mythology is enjoyable and great for all ages.
The Spy who came in from the Cold by John le Carré, narrated by Michael Jayston
A classic Cold War spy thriller about Alec Leamas, a British spy who is tasked with defecting to East Germany to frame the East German Intelligence Director as a double agent. The slow, meticulous unfolding of the plot builds tension as you listen to Leamas navigate the shades-of-gray landscape of espionage.
Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda, narrated by Mariska Hartigay
This book provides the background on the musical as readers learn about the inspiration, development, and the ups and downs the cast experienced on its way to surprising success. The book is read by Mariska Hartigay, who is much more upbeat reading this than she is at her regular job as Capt. Olivia Benson, while Miranda closes by reading his (often funny) footnotes for Hamilton’s libretto.
All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, narrated by Richard Poe
Listening to Bernstein and Woodward’s account of their investigation into the Watergate Scandal is surprisingly suspenseful. From clandestine meetings with sources to arguments in the editing room, this book details everything they did to uncover Watergate right up to the moment before the Nixon Tapes are made known to the public.
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, narrated by Dan Butler
David, an American expatriate living in Paris, struggles with what he desires and what is expected of him as a man. A story about humanity, love, and identity. Reading this story is an affecting experience. Listening to Butler’s narration does not lessen its impact at all.