The Avid Audiobooker

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  • Audio books are a passion of mine. One of the many great things about my job is I can listen to books while I work. This mean I finish a typical book every other day, shorter books I can do one a day. I choose books by author, topic/genre, and have even picked up books because I loved the narrator (this is one thing I think audio books has over real books, but that is because inside my head has no great narrator). I would really enjoy hearing your favorites.

    Matt Garner

    @bdregge I’ve only listened to one that I really enjoyed — the audio book for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Even if the book is lauded, the audio book can be terrible depending on who reads it. I’ve abandoned a fair share. Are there some good ones you would suggest?

    @mattgarner in the line of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell I really enjoyed the Skin Map series  written by Stephen Lawhead narrated by Simon Pebble (very loosely in that line). My favorite narrators and some of the books I like by them- All-time favorite is George Guidall reading Les Miserables, Robert Inglis does really good at The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I like Luke Daniels who reads the Iron Droid series by Kevin Hearne. And finally I have listen to new books/authors because of William Dufris.

    I don’t listen to a lot of Audiobooks, but recently I stumbled across, whose mission is to make available audiobooks from literature in Public Domain.  This provides many hours of FREE listening to some really great stuff like

    This is in addition to others like William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Herman Melville, Geoffrey Chaucer, Walt Whitman, Lew Wallace, Henry David Thoreau, James Fenimore Cooper, Augustine, T. S. Elliot, Emily Dickinson, Frank Baum, Louisa May Alcott, Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carroll, Jonathan Swift, H. G. Wells, Jane Austen, Alexandre Dumas, Arthur Conan Doyle, Victor Hugo, and thousands more!  Another good place to start is:   Happy Listening!!   (one final note:  my favorite audiobook so far is The Warden and the Wolf King, because Andrew’s reading didn’t just bring me into his world, but into his family, like I was his own child listening at his feet!)


    I don’t listen to many audiobooks, but I discovered that the University of South Florida has a program called Lit2Go that provides excellent free downloads of audiobooks for a great deal of the classics. I listened to Crime and Punishment and it was very well-done, down to the characters’ individual accents.

    @scheb0rk I also really enjoyed the entire Wingfeather saga, even though Andrew Peterson only does the Narration on the last two Peter Samson did a fantastic job on the first two. Generally, I strongly dislike when a series changes narrators in the middle of a series but this was not a problem with those two. And @winterfinch, this is a problem I have had with the free libraries, they can change even from one chapter to the next. Also the download and players can be not user friendly for me. Has this been your experience with them?

    For me audio is not just a method of delivery for the book but a creative expression by the narrator as well. Like movies (loosely) based on books. They are never as good as a representation of the book, but in there own medium, as their own art form can still be great.


    @bdregge, I have not experienced that with Lit2Go. The narrator stayed the same for the entire book. The download is an MP3 file for each chapter that you can import to iTunes or whatever software you prefer.

    I actually don’t listen to audiobooks because I’d rather not spend money on something like that, and the free ones haven’t been very good, but the University of South Florida has done a great job.

    Most public libraries now offer Audiobooks through Overdrive, but selection is usually limited to what the library subscribes.  Unfortunately, Overdrive currently has only the first two Wingfeather books due to the publisher change (and whether Rabbit Room Press wants to make Andrew’s audiobooks available):

    I’m pretty set on Audible for where I get my audiobooks. Since I go through so many the library overdrive system doesn’t work with having to check out the book then download it (I don’t have a data or wifi at work) and I found that Audible is very user friendly for me (again, I can’t handle my device on the job because I work in an industrial setting) it allows me to quickly pause by unplugging the jack and resume by plugging it back in. I found they have a lot of really great sales and deals if you watch for them. My library is nearing 350 titles. But it is worth the cost to me because I love them, just like many people enjoy owning print books even choosing a particular binding (such as wanting the Wingfeather Saga in hardcover). I can get a huge selection of books from them also, such as The Green Ember, and all four Wingfeather Saga books. I don’t think the other services are bad, this is just my decided favorite.

    Kristen Kopp

    @bdregge I just subscribed to Audible a couple months ago and so far have listened to All the Light We Cannot See and Dead Wake. I loved them both. The narrator is important to me; I’ve given up on books because I found the narrator’s voice to be annoying. @mattgarner Ooh, I’ll be checking out Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

    @kristenkopp I believe the Jonathan Strange book is on sale right now for $5 or at least it was since this thread was started.

    Tresta Payne

    I’m listening to To Kill a Mockingbird right now and Sissy Spacek is the perfect narrator for it. Reading aloud is a gift, for sure! I tend to prefer english or southern accents; @AndrewPeterson does a phenomenal job keeping up his accents for his characters.

    scott james

    I use Audible mostly for large, nonfiction books. Two recent favorites that are excellent in audiobook format are The Warmth of Other Suns and The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings. Loved them both. Next up in the queue is Gardiner’s biography of Bach.

    Anybody else have recs for nonfiction works you’ve found to be particularly good?

    @scottjames — I loved Ron Chernow’s biography of George Washington. 41+ hours, but so good.

    Right now I’m listening to Elizabeth 1 & Her Circle by Susan Doran.  The story isn’t told chronologically, so I feel like I need a visual at times to keep it all straight. Still, I’m learning a lot about a time period that I knew very little about.

    Some sports non-fiction I’ve enjoyed: Moneyball by Michael Lewis, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and The Perfect Mile by Neil Bascombe

    War stories — The Forgotten 500 by Gregory Freeman, Roberts Ridge by Malcolm McPherson, and A Higher Call by Adam Makos — all books I enjoyed and learned a lot from

    I rarely watch tv or movies, but listen to a lot of audiobooks. Thank you for starting this thread.

    @scottjames I recently enjoyed A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin narrated by Bronson Punching.

    AWalk in the Woods by Bill Bryson nar. Rob McQuay

    Davy Crockett by Davy Crockett nar. Jonathan Reese

    Start by & nar. Jon Acuff

    And my all time favorite that I’ve listen to more than three times –

    Endurance by Alfred Lansing nar. Simon Prebble

    I would be glad to give you a short book report on any you think might be interesting, if you’d like.

    @sallyz I’m glad to have you, who are some of your favorite narrators?

    @bdregge I rarely look at who at the narrators are. I choose a book for the book itself, then I listen to the sample to make sure that narrator’s voice isn’t grating.

    I get almost all my books from Audible and can’t remember a time being unhappy with the book because of the narrator. One book — it was a book about a swimmer (Petria Thomas) — was told in two voices and I had a hard time getting used to that. But I think that was because there wasn’t enough of a break or any kind of explanation between the two voices. It needed chapter titles or something.

    I just looked through my audible library to see who my favorites might be. Um — Patrick Lawlor? Simon Vance? Really, though, I don’t think I have a favorite.

    Funny story — in preparation for my first Hutchmoot, I put Everything That Rises by Flannery O on my iPod — @jonathanrogers, this may explain some of my struggle — not knowing that it was a book of short stories. I listened to the first story, thinking it was a chapter, then the next story, thinking it was the second chapter with a whole new set of characters. I kept thinking, “I’m going to have a hard time keeping these all straight. Plus this is pretty depressing.” But I pressed on. When the third chapter had all new characters and was just as disturbing, I stopped. I finally looked up something about the book to help me understand — and learned that it was short stories.

    I have really enjoyed having an Audible subscription. I was a book-on-CD-in-the-car person for years–my family drove between Michigan and Pennsylvania a lot (and then I went out to PA for school) and the 10 hour drive is good to knock out books in. On Audible, I’ve really enjoyed the following this past year:
    Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, narrated by Ari Fliakos
    Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace, narrated by Todd McLaren
    Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell
    The Martian by Andy Weir, narrated by R. C. Bray
    The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, narrated by Scott Brick
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, narrated by Kristen Potter
    The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, narrated by Edward Herrmann
    The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, narrated by Polly Stone
    Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, narrated by Jim Dale
    Anything by Neil Gaiman that he narrates himself, particularly: Neverwhere, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Graveyard Book

    I love mysteries, and the Brother Cadfael mysteries read by Patrick Tull are wonderful. I know at least some of them are on Audible, not sure if he read the whole series or not. Looks like Patrick Tull read some of the Master and Commander books, too, which are good.

    The Green Ember and The Black Star of Kingston by S.D. Smith are both on Audible. Joel Clarkson read Green Ember and did a great job. I haven’t listened to Black Star read by Eric Fritzius yet, but I know Sam was happy with it.

    I also haven’t listened to Jonathan Auxier’s books on Audible yet, so I can’t state an opinion on the readers, but I loved both books, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes and The Night Gardener. I’m eagerly awaiting Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard on Audible.

    As a reader, I also love George Guidall. Not sure what books he’s got on Audible, but he’s a fantastic reader.


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