Listening to nonfiction books as opposed to reading the print has always been more effective for me. The narrator keeps the pace moving and if the wording is dense I find it simpler to understand it as a listener. There have been many exceptional audio productions of recent nonfiction bestsellers. Here are a few of my favorites:
Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him written by David Henry & Joe Henry, read by Dion Graham David and Joe Henry bring Richard Pryor to life both as a man and as an artist, providing an in-depth appreciation of his talent and his lasting influence, as well as an insightful examination of the world he lived in and the influences that shaped both his persona and his art.
Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America written by Jill Levoy, read by Rebecca Lowman Jill Leovy, crime reporter for the LA Times, examines why the homicide rates for blacks in America are so much higher than any other ethnic group.
The Gene: An Intimate History written by Siddhartha Mukherjee, read by Dennis Boutisikaris A magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: what becomes of being human when we learn to ‘read’ and ‘write’ our own genetic information?
This week we’ll be taking a look at three spine-tingling audiobooks. You will find that with these types of books the narrator makes ALL the difference and you can rest assured that the following narrators are excellent.
The Graveyard Book written and performed by Neil Gaiman Nobody Owens (aka ‘Bod’) is a normal boy being raised in a graveyard. In a similar fashion to The Jungle Book, Bod is adopted by the inhabitants of his unique home; separate tales are told about Bod’s interactions with ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard.
Heart-Shaped Box written by Joe Hill, performed by Stephen Lang Rock star Judas Coyne is a collector of the bizarre and grotesque, so when he sees a ghost for sale on the internet he buys it. It comes delivered in a black heart-shaped box. Entertaining and very scary, with exceptional narration.
Doctor Sleep written by Stephen King, performed by Will Patton This sequel to The Shining follows middle-aged recovering addict Danny Torrance and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from murderous supernatural forces. A very good book that became a great audiobook.
This month I would like to focus on one of my favorite ways to read–audiobooks! Every week I will focus on some crowd-pleasing new-ish (2015-17) audiobooks. This week’s spotlighted subcategory is “Audiobooks Narrated by the Author:”
A View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction written and narrated by Neil Gaiman Let’s begin with my favorite author/narrator: Neil Gaiman. Whether he is reading Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe or one of his own children’s books, his voice is simply wonderful. Don’t believe me? Check out A View from the Cheap Seats–a series of speeches, essays, and book introductions Gaiman has written over the years. I won’t be giving anything away if I confide that my favorite selections deal with the wonder and importance of libraries. With the short length of each piece this is the perfect audiobook to listen to on short trips around town.
Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person written and narrated by Shonda Rhimes Okay, I admit it. I am mildly obsessed with this book. As an introverted librarian in rural CT, I initially questioned what I could possibly have in common with Shonda Rhimes–the hit creator, writer, and producer of mega-hits Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. Well, I promise you there will be parts of this eye-opening book that relate directly to your life no matter how far removed you may feel from an iconic television writer like Ms. Rhimes. Give it a listen. You will not be disappointed.
The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy written and narrated by Rainn Wilson Rainn Wilson is an actor–best known for his role as Dwight Schrute on The Office. Wilson is also the founder of Soul Pancake–a media company that believes in the power of art to bring joy and awareness to the world. Wilson is sincere and very funny in his writing and narration of this book. Add to all this an unusual upbringing and a fascinating look into the Baha’i faith and you have an interesting and highly entertaining audiobook.