It started with this. Then this.
Then it snowballed into this:
What am I talking about? I’m talking about my latest addiction…audio books. Before 2012, I had NEVER listened to an audio book before. NEVER? Yes. NEVER! The best reason I can come up with is that the ideal audio-book-listening-location (for me) is my car, and rarely am I driving solo. I usually have a couple of companions, my daughter and my son. At six-years-old and three-years-old respectively, they are not the best audience for YA audio books. They prefer some “Call Me Maybe” or “Moves Like Jagger.” However, after I began working on my MLIS with a weekly 50 minute drive to and from class, I decided it was time to embark on my audio book adventure.
I had been dying to read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and decided it would be my grad school ride material. Narrated by Kate Rudd with a run length of over seven hours, I figured Kate and I would be spending a few weeks together. WRONG! I not only loved the book because it is one of the best books out there, but I also fell in love with Kate’s performance. Nightly I had my ear buds in as I sat on the couch in my living room, often laughing and sometimes crying, all the while feeling like a total doof wondering if my husband would walk in.
I never did get to listen to TFiOS in the car because I finished it before my next grad class. Armed with a subscription to Audible, I asked colleagues for audio book recommendations and was pointed toward Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races. Wow. First of all, Stiefvater’s novel is just magical in its own right. But the audio…sigh…oh the audio. This was a far cry from a narration. It was a brilliant performance by the extremely talented Steve West and Fiona Hardingham. My review of the audio book even found its way to Maggie Stiefvater herself, who then passed it on to Steve West, who then left me a very nice comment on my post. I’ll admit it. I swooned a bit. Seriously. Listen to a sample from the book here. You’ll understand what I mean.
I really had no idea how much performance was involved in a quality audio book narration, how much of a character could be embodied in just a voice. The books I’ve listened to and the performers who narrate them do an amazing job bringing not only the MC’s to life but the entire supporting cast as well. I’m only eleven books in to my audio book experience, but I’ve already got some favorite narrators.
Favorite narrators so far…I definitely a bit of a crush on Steve West as Sean Kendrick in The Scorpio Races . Every book on this list I thoroughly enjoyed, but there is one narrator who shows up in three of the eleven books above, Nick Podehl. My first Nick Podehl experience was with Neal Shusterman’s Bruiser. Then when I saw his name listed as one of the narrators of Will Grayson, Will Grayson (John Green and David Levithan), I made that my next download. I loved Jordan Sonnenblick’s Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, narrated by Joel Johnstone (of whom I am also a big fan…he did Thirteen Reasons Why with Debra Wiseman as well) and was so excited to listen to the follow up, After Ever After because it was, you guessed it, narrated by Nick Podehl. In all three books, Podehl narrates three extremely varied male characters: a tough, on-the-cusp-of-being-a-bully teen bent on protecting his sister from the guy he considers the school freak; a self-conscious, emotionally immature high school guy afraid of connecting with anyone; and a thirteen-year-old cancer survivor living with the lasting effects of his illness while also trying to deal with adolescence. Podehl captures the nuances of all three characters with just his voice (not to mention the voices of all the supporting characters as well).
First and foremost, any book I fall in love with is due to the talents of those who write and edit said books, but the power of a voice can add a whole new level to the relationship between reader and text.
Places to find audio books:
Audible: Monthly subscription gets you a limited amount of credits per month. I admit, I use mine quickly, but the great thing is that the books are yours to keep. Any audio books you buy beyond your monthly credits are also discounted to members, and Audible often has sales above and beyond the regular discounts. Their library is huge. Pretty much anything I’ve ever wanted to find on audio is there, and you can listen to samples to ensure you approve of the narrator.
Sync: For each week of the summer, Sync is offering FREE downloads of new and classic YA audio books! It’s a promotion to generate interest for YA audio books, and did I mention it is FREE?
Overdrive: I have access to Overdrive from my public library, which is what you will need too. They pay the subscription to Overdrive, and I have access to borrow ebooks and audio books. The lending period is two weeks per book, and the audio library is much more limited than Audible, but I have found great YA listens here, like Gayle Forman’s Where She Went! (This is the Audible link just so you can sample the book since you can only access Overdrive through your library.)
Audiobooks.com: I have not used this site yet. It offers a 7 day free trial, and what it looks like is a subscription to borrow unlimited books per month, rather than actually buying the books like you do at Audible. I’ve done some searching for titles, and the selection is more limited than Audible, but it sounds like a great concept, and I’m keeping it on my radar!
If you know of other great audio books sources, let me know!
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green/performed by Kate Rudd
The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater/performed by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher/performed by Joel Johnstone and Debra Wiseman
Where She Went, by Gayle Forman/performed by Dan Bittner
Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli/peformed by John Ritter
The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen/performed by Charlie McWade
Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys/performed by Emily Klein
Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins/performed by Kim Mai Guest
Bruiser, by Neal Shusterman/performed by Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Luke Daniels, and Laura Hamilton
Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta/performed by Jeffrey Cummings
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan/performed by Nick Podehl and MacLeod Andrews
Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, by Jordan Sonnenblick/performed by Joel Johnstone
After Ever After, by Jordan Sonnenblick/performed by Nick Podehl
Currently listening to The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman (I would like to listen to all his books read by him!)