Friday, June 24, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Whether you just started listening or have a long history with audiobooks, you probably have some suggestions for those new to audio whether for narrators, titles, or ways to experience the medium. Write a post, make a list, get creative.
Oh, “get creative” always makes me seize up! I used to say that I could enjoy some narrators even if they were reading the phone book. I wonder, though, if I’ve listened to so many books that this is no longer the case. I mean, I love Jim Dale and his work on the Harry Potter books, but now I often hear Harry Potter characters when Mr. Dale reads other books. And Katherine Kellgren’s (just today named Booklist's Voice of Choice 2011) Bloody Jacks are bloody marvelous, but I’ve not really liked some of the other books I’ve heard her read (A and B). And I’ve heard nothing but great things about Simon Vance, but I was underwhelmed by the Dragon Tattoo (the story, first and foremost … but also because I’d seen the movie first!), and the other book I listened to him read. I’m still searching for that Simon Vance book that speaks to me. But I know it’s out there!
So all this negativity is leading … where? In choosing audiobooks, I’d still start with the book. Most important question: Is this a story that you want to read? If that’s the case, listening to it can be a sublime experience. (It can also be just dreadful … but let’s not talk about bad narrators here.) As you get used to listening, use narrators to expand your horizons – let them do the heavy lifting. Your eyes might shy away from a book that intrigues you, but it’s hefty, overly literary, or in a genre you’re not familiar with. Listening can remove these barriers – you can do all those trivial things that absorb so much of our daily lives and read a book! I’ve never been much of a nonfiction reader, but there’ve been a number of nonfiction books I’ve really enjoyed listening to (there’s this one, but interestingly most are pre-blog, notably: Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, Krakatoa and Seabiscuit.
- Willie Arnold, alto sax player, who shout-sings his "be-bops" between the driving rhythm of his verse.
- Christopher Lomax, who watches his daughter soliciting on the corner outside his window. The grief in his voice stops up your throat.
- Delia Pierce, hairdresser, who dishes on everyone as she serves a customer from shampoo to blow dry. "It's not like me to run my mouth," she says. Not!
- Frank Griffin and Lemuel Burr, both veterans, who quietly and matter-of-factly tell the story of how Homer Grimes ran afoul a southern sheriff after serving in World War II.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Current/most recent audiobook: I’m in the middle of Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices by Walter Dean Myers. It’s read by a full cast and recently was honored as the most “distinguished in audio production” at this year’s Audies. I’ll finish it and review it tomorrow.
Impressions: Excellent. I’m not a big fan of poetry, but the combination of many voices and sound effects (I take back everything I said yesterday!) makes the verse come vividly to life.
Current favorite audiobook: White Cat by Holly Black. I loved the long con that is this novel about “curse workers,” those whose touch can wreak havoc, and I was most pleasantly surprised at the narration by Jesse Eisenberg. It’s likely I’ll listen to the other novels that will make up this trilogy.
One narrator who always makes you choose audio over print: Like Jen, I’m not sure if anyone would ALWAYS make me choose audio over print, but I’m highly swayed if I see Katherine Kellgren, Simon Jones, Neil Gaiman, or Dion Graham.
Genre you most often choose to listen to: None … unless you count books for kids and teens. I listen to a lot of these.
If given the choice, you will always choose audio when: Ooh, can’t answer this one either. I think if I’m wrapped up in a series that I’ve already enjoyed in audio, I’m likely to stick with it in audio. The Last Apprentice, Bartimaeus, Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy (I regretted eye-reading Behemoth), Harry Potter [duh!], Bloody Jack.
If given the choice, you will always choose print when: Hmmm … even though I’ll dig in and listen to a monster every now and then (monster = more than, say, 20 hours), I find I’m shying away from devoting that much time to ONE SINGLE BOOK!
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Love them? Hate them? Take them or leave them? How do you feel about sound effects in audiobooks?
Alternate suggestions: Single narrator vs. multiple narrators vs. full cast, audio dramatizations, etc.
Sound effects: Ick ick ick … I’m racking my brains to come up with a book where they didn’t sound completely cheesy. Wait! They are OK for picture book read-alouds, since a creaky door, a bawking chicken or the ticktock of a clock would be something I would do were I reading aloud. If I’m reading a “chapter book” (kids or adults), I’m not making those sound effects in my head and I don’t need them “vocalized” (as it were) when I’m listening to someone read to me.
Music, on the other hand, can add a great deal to an audiobook, as long as it doesn’t overwhelm the reading, or repeat itself ad nauseum.
Full cast narrations: When these are well thought out and properly edited (none of the “s/he saids”), a full-cast audio can be terrific. Here are links (A and B) to two I’ve enjoyed. Be wary of the not-so-great narrators lurking in the small parts though … they can bring down a production with a thud.
Multiple narrators: When a book calls for this – two or more first-person narratives, a narrative that alternates between two perspectives – bring on the dual narrators. Here are links to some (A and B) I think are good. Here’s a link to one that desperately needed two readers. Hearing more than one voice read a story that has more than one voice is one of the things that make audiobooks special.
Dramatizations: I’ve only listened to one and I hated it. Cheesy sound effects and expositional dialogue. Yuck.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Are you new to audiobooks in the last year? Have you been listening to them forever but discovered something new this year? Favorite titles? New times/places to listen? This is your chance to introduce yourself and your general listening experience.
I am a long-time listener to audiobooks (well, does 10 years count?). I started listening when I embarked upon my new career as a youth librarian and realized I was way behind in knowing the “classics” and other good books for kids. It seemed like a great way to multitask for those hours when I simply couldn’t be eye-reading. I got the bug, but then shifted into overdrive [tee hee!] when I joined a Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) committee first known as Selected Audiobooks and now called Amazing Audiobooks. Suddenly it was all (young adult) audiobooks all the time – they’re not just for walking, knitting, and driving … they’re for folding laundry, cooking, gardening (I’m using these last two terms loosely), changing the cat litter, and even showering. I started blogging my second year on the committee in order to keep track of what I was listening to. My ears got more sophisticated in my four years of committee listening as well (Year 4 I was on the Odyssey Award Committee, naming the best audiobook for children and teens in 2010 – Sing out Louise!).
Since leaving the Odyssey Committee in January 2010, I’ve been able to listen to whatever I want, so I’ve branched out to adult titles as well as those for kids and teens that might have passed me by. The TBLT list is way too long, but I still listen at a pretty constant pace (I’m up to 35 books and 273 hours so far this year … and yes, I keep track!). I don’t think I’ll run out in the near … or even far future. I admit I miss having the boxes of fresh audiobooks arriving steadily, but hey – a book like In the Company of the Courtesan or Framed is new to me! The rest of my favorites from 2010 are here.
As for favorites, I listen so constantly, it’s hard to pick one or two. So far this year I like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Ring of Solomon, Shutter Island, The True Meaning Smekday, and White Cat.
Last but not least, this year I joined the Audiobook Knitters group on the knitting social network, Ravelry. Getting through the TBLT and knocking down the stash. Awesome!
Thursday, June 2, 2011
- June is Audiobook Month. So get caught listening.
- The Devourer of Books will be celebrating Audiobook Week next week (June 6-10). Prizes are on offer. I am a greedy person, and so might even be participating myself.
- The Audiobook Jukebox outgrew its blogspot site and now has its own little home on the web: handily, it's http://www.audiobookjukebox.com/.
- I like my audiobook blogs, and Publishers Weekly has one now: Listen Up! (Don't forget Booklist's Audiobooker.)
- The women who write Stacked and Abby the Librarian have a great AudioSynced roundup for May.