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Audiobooks: stuff you can read while your hands and eyes are busy elsewhere

April 23, 2012

 

Audiobooks are these awesome things that save me when I need my hands and eyes to be doing something that isn’t holding a book or reading the pages. I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately, or rather quite a few of the same ones over and over. It’s not that I don’t want new books, it’s just that for me to want an audiobook specifically, rather than a book in some other medium, there are certain criteria: 1) I have read the book and loved it and want to re-read it. 2) It has to be well narrated by someone with a nice voice (if I’m committing 8+ hours to listening to something it better sound, you know, pleasant). 3) The book must be easy to listen to on my computer, my phone, and any other electronic device I use for entertainment.


That being said, here are the books I listen to over and over, in no particular order.
 
The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins:
These are narrated brilliantly by Carolyn McCormick and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere (and I also blather on about the movie), I have read these books way more times than, like, sane people. I will chose these over the movie versions any day.
 
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:
This book is so awesome that I have been working on a review of it for months but can’t finish because I HAVE ALL OF THE THOUGHTS AND FEELS ABOUT THIS BOOK. I actually loaned it to a friend who called me twenty minutes later asking me what I had done, “It’s from you,” he said, “so I was expecting science-fiction or fantasy, not to be falling in love with a 16 year old cancer patient! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?” which is a fairly accurate way to sum up the book, but doesn’t really do justice to the existentialist questions raised in the actual reading of the book. As a side note, there are two audio versions of this book, a special limited edition read by John Green and the official release which is read by what I can only assume is some sort of robot. In the future, John Green should just be hired to read all of his own audiobooks. Seriously. (And no, it’s not really that weird that a book about a 16 year old girl is being read by a 30 something year old man, or at least not any weirder than when 16 year old boys are read by a 40 something year old woman or whatever. That is a thing that is going to happen in audiobooks and just ignore it because the sound of Green’s voice is soothing and will happily coat your brain in beautiful words.)
 
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi:
This is a fun and snarky science-fiction narrated by Wil Wheaton, who is the perfect narrator for Scalzi’s tone and characters. I talk about the book in length over here.
 
Valiant by Holly Black:
This is my favorite retelling of Beauty and the Beast and it’s narrated by Renee Raudman. The narration is solid but I mostly listen to this because it’s amazing and ground breaking urban fantasy that is dark and twisted and beautiful and a fantastic new interpretation of a story I’ve always loved. The story has magic faerie drugs and homeless teens and secret subway stations and midnight gatherings of Fae in Central Park.
 
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson:
This is a paranormal urban ghost story with Jack the Ripper and is read by Nicola Barber. The narration in this story is particularly impressive because it has characters with several different variations on an English accent which I can’t even wrap my head around how Barber managed to do this so well. I mean, as an American I am not super great with recognizing Cockney versus British socialite or whatever but I do enjoy a lot of British entertainment so I’m not completely without reference here. If you want to know more about the story I have a review over here.
 
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams:
I listen to the Hitchhiker’s Guide rather often as well, but the Dirk Gently series never gets enough love. I think my version is actually Douglas Adams reading his own work.
 
Harry Potter:
Of course I have these audiobooks because when you have a Harry Potter itch it MUST BE SATISFIED. And yes, I have both the British version narrated by Stephen Fry and the American version read by Jim Dale. They are both awesome. Obviously.
 
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson:
Have you read The Bloggess? Basically, go read her blog and if you like that then you will like her book. I say this because the book isn’t really about anything so much as it is a loose memoir consisting of short stories from Lawson’s life, which are inherently hilarious and not really about anything. I don’t even like memoirs but I love funny and Lawson is the kind of funny that leaves you giggling like a lunatic with your earbuds in and the rest of the world taking a few steps to the side to avoid running in to you. Also, there are a lot of stories about blood, dead animals, and accidentally ending up inside of dead bloody animals. The book is also read by Lawson which is perfect because I’m pretty sure no one else could manage to capture her unique tone just right.
 
Do YOU have any audiobook suggestions for me? Leave them in the comments and tell me why it’s awesome in the audio version.

 

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