It’s that time of year again: summer reading! Last year I wrote about how librarians catalog, search, provide readers advice and come up with book lists. This year I want to go in a different direction.
Imagine being packed into an old Chevy Suburban filled with cousins and going on road trips to the mountains. This is how I spent most weekends as a child. Also, since my cousins and I were children and had no authority whatsoever in the back rows of the vehicle, we didn’t get a say in what we listened to on the radio. Nope, that honor went to my Tia and Tio. I spent countless hours each summer listening to audiobooks (I’m obviously not the only bibliophile in the family). It was always the latest in Harry Bosch mysteries, Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Tony Hillerman, and as a 9, 10, 11 year old, I always found them so boring!
It wasn’t until my college years that I began to appreciate audiobooks more. Perhaps it’s because I was finally mature enough to understand what Harry Bosch was doing in Vietnam tunnels, or perhaps it’s because the entertainment of the narrators has increased. I have absolutely nothing against Dick Hill; I think he is a great narrator and now that I am older I can listen to him for hours.
Also, audiobooks are becoming more fun. While there are traditional one-author narrated books such as the Harry Potter series narrated by Jim Dale, there are also audiobooks with a whole cast such as The Sun is Also a Star.
Publishers are realizing there is a market for audiobooks. With smart devices and streaming services audiobooks are more readily available. You no longer have to carry around a big box of 16 CDs and a CD player. They’re becoming more cost effective too, with services like Audible, and public libraries carrying e-audiobooks for patrons to download.
It may also be a generational thing. This article by Quartz suggests audiobooks are on the rise because the current generation is obsessed with multitasking. I never thought that doing the dishes and listening to an audiobook was any different than listening to the radio, but perhaps the author has a point. I have been told I multitask a lot.
In keeping with the idea that it’s the narrator that perhaps makes audiobooks enjoyable, I have come up with a few categories and have put some titles into the slots.
Audiobooks narrated by the books authors:
Norse Mythology: Written and narrated by Neil Gaiman.
Hillbilly Elegy–Written and narrated by JD Vance
Giant of the Senate: Written and narrated by Al Franken
Audiobooks narrated with a full cast:
The Help–Kathryn Stockett: Narrated by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, Cassandra Campbell
Into the Water–Paula Hawkins: Narrated by Laura Aikman, Rachel Bavidge, Sophie Aldred, Daniel Weyman, Imogen Church.
Salt to the Sea–Ruta Sepetys: Narrated by Jorjeana marie, Will Damron, Cassandra Morris, Michael Crouch.
Audiobooks narrated by television and film actors:
Matilda–Roald Dahl: Narrated by Kate Winslet
How to Train Your Dragon–Cressida Cresswell: David Tennant
To Kill a Mockingbird–Harper Lee: Narrated by Sissy Spacek
Crossovers (can fit in more than one category):
Yes Please: Amy Poehler’s autobiography is not only narrated by Amy Poehler herself, but also has a full cast starring Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, and Kathleen Turner.
Bare Bones: Written and narrated by Bobby Bones, a nationally syndicated radio host.
Born a Crime: Written and narrated by Trevor Noah, host of the Daily show.
So this summer pick up a new book or two and try the audio version!
Jennifer Crawford, MLIS
Marketing Librarian for Access Innovations, Inc.