Even though I love books, it’s hard to make time to read. Notice I said “make” time, not find it. Important things like reading and exercise don’t just happen, people. We’ve gotta schedule time and ferociously defend it.
Sometimes making time to read means planning it in the calendar. (30 minutes for reading about the writing craft- I can do it!) I also add reading to my day by listening to audiobooks while I drive (hours and hours) to my kids’ activities.
Audiobooks help me keep up with middle grade fiction – My kids and I enjoy books together without danger of inappropriate content. Also, I prefer non-fiction in the audio format. At bedtime, I want to read a story, not a chapter on how ten thousand hours of practice leads to success. But non-fiction while cleaning- that keeps my brain stimulated while I scrub toilets.
Here’s the problem with audiobooks: a bad narrative performance can ruin a book. When my kids went gaga for James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series (MG/YA fantasy in which children are genetically altered to be able to fly), I listened to the first book. Ugh! The reader’s style totally sabotaged the story for me.
I’ve had better luck lately. Here’s why:
Three Hints for Choosing Good Audiobooks
The first two seem obvious, but the last one is a gem I recently discovered.
- Get recommendations. Follow the suggestions of trusted friends, book bloggers, and podcasters. Most episodes of Books On the Nightstand feature an audiobook pick.
- Listen to the sample. Just a few minutes will tell you what you need to know about the narrator . If I hear a high pitched, whiny voice, so I pass on the audiobook.
- Check out the Audie Awards. Thanks to the magnificent Mignon Fogarty of Grammar Girl, I learned about “The Audies”. The Audio Publishers Association gives two awards every year. One Audiobook of the Year to honor an audiobook for its quality, innovation and marketing, and influence on the industry. Another Distinguished Achievement in Production, which honors excellence in all areas of production. There are also winners and finalists in over 31 categories like fiction, sci-fi, history, and kid lit. .
Now I know what to look for when I peruse Audible.com.
A Sampling of 2014 Audie Award Winners
The Production Award went to The Storm King, written and read by Pete Seeger. It’s about the history of civil protest and its connection to folk music in America. (Never heard of it. Have you?)
Other 2014 winners:
- Classic literature: The Complete Sherlock Holmes, read by Simon Vance
- YA/Teen: Viva Jacquelina! Bloody Jack, Book 10, written by L.A. Meyer, read by Katherine Kellgren
- Kids up to 8: Hooray for Anna Hibiscus, written by Atinuke, read by Mutiyat Ade-Salu
- Kids 8-12: Matilda, written by Roald Dahl, read by Kate Winslet
- Literary Fiction: The Goldfinch, written by Donna Tartt, read by David Pittu
- Fiction: Doctor Sleep, written by Stephen King, read by Will Patton (It’s the sequel to The Shining – I’ll never listen to this, award or not!)
Note: Eleanor and Park was a finalist in the teen category; I listened to the audiobook and loved it! Here’s my review of E & P.
Visit the APA site for the complete listing of 2014 Audie winners and finalists.
Do you listen to audiobooks? How do you find good ones? What are some of your favorites?
I highly recommend the Artemis Fowl and Harry Potter series, especially if you like fantasy.
Thanks for sharing!