Sunday, March 22, 2009

Audio Favorites

Carrie at Books and Movies wrote a great post about her favorite audio books last week. It got me thinking about the role audio books play in my reading.

I discovered audio books in 2002, a year I spent an inordinate amount of time behind the wheel of my car. My main source of audio books then was the public library. Late in 2003, I became member of and have had a membership ever since. My time in the car has decreased considerably, but my audio book habit has continued. My listening preference is fiction (occasionally even a best-seller I wouldn't pick up and read), but I've also enjoyed lighter non-fiction and memoirs.

Here are some of my favorites:

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

-an outstanding collection of short stories very effectively read by two different narrators

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
-a collection of stories about life in a small Maine town, each featuring an appearance by larger-than-life character Olive Kitteridge
-the narrator's Maine accent contributes to it's audio success

Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle
-examines the problem of illegal immigration by putting a 'face' on both sides of the issue

-an elderly man recalls his younger years travelling with the circus
-effectively done with two readers

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
-a very unusual love story with a literary twist
-read by multiple narrators

-very funny essays about growing older and other feminine issues
-read by the author

Digging to America by Anne Tyler
-two very different families meet at an airport while picking up their adopted Korean daughters and form a life-long friendship

-a father delivers his set of twins and gives up his Downs Syndrome daughter without his wife's knowledge

The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates
-sprawling novel set in 1950's Niagara Falls...typical JCO

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
-a child is conceived specifically to be a bone marrow donor for her older sister
-a riveting, Picoult formula story read by multiple narrators

Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright
-Giller Award winning epistolary novel depicting the lives of two sisters during the depression
-this is the novel that got me hooked on audio books

And finally, The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.

For some reason, Blogger won't let me upload a picture, but this is one book where the reader makes the experience!

What audio books have you enjoyed?


  1. Oh how I WISH I could enjoy audio books. I am such a visual learner, however, that I find that I translate what I hear into words I can "see" -- which makes it very exhausting!

    Do you have any suggestions?? I also spend quite a bit of time in the car and think I could be so much more productive if I could learn to properly listen to audio books.

  2. You have a good list there. I'm afraid I haven't got on very well with audio books, I tried this one,
    a while ago and found the earpieces too uncomfortable. I intend to buy a new set one day , so I'll maybe listen to more then.

  3. Thanks for the suggestions! I've listened to a couple of Jodi Picoult's titles, and her books make great audiobooks.

  4. The History of Love seems to have great staying power. I have heard lots of buzz about it. I'll read it soon.

  5. These are so popular with commuters. We spend half an hour every shift at the library calling people about discs not returned though. "Mr Smith, disc 4 was missing from your Patterson". Sheepish customer then shows up displaying said disc with his finger through the hole in the middle, held up high.

  6. Molly,
    Your comment has me thinking that I must be a very auditory learner. When I read, I actually hear myself saying the words...and I think that slows my reading.

    I'm wondering if an audio book with multiple readers would work better for you. That way, it may almost seem more like listening to a play and help you get used to (and maybe even enjoy) the audio format.

    Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper was an excellent multiple narrator book. I think her books are better listened to than read!

  7. Zetor-
    I read your post and agree that earbuds are uncomfortable. I listen mainly in the car, so I just pop the CD's into the player. Please let me know if you find a set of earbuds that you recommend.

    I will never read another one of Jodi Picoult's books...only audio from now on!!

    The History of Love was a very memorable book. I hope you enjoy it!

    That's so funny! I can see where it would be very easy to forget one disc. Thankfully, I've never done must be very embarassing!

  8. I've begun listening to audio books only recently, so I don't yet have any favorites :)

    I loved *Olive Kitteridge*! I bet the purposeful speech in a Maine accent really does it justice. I'll have to see if our library system has this on audio ...

    She is Too Fond of Books

  9. Dawn,
    Even if you've already read Olive Kitteridge, it would be worth it to listen to a few of the stories again. You may get hooked and end up listening to the whole thing... Olive's voice is just perfect!

  10. I've never listened to an audio book before. I'm also a very visual learner, so it would be a long time before I try, although I'm tempted to! Btw, loove The History of Love!

  11. Claire,
    Listening to books is really a totally different experience, but one that's not for everybody. I like that it allows me to fit more books in, but it's certainly not a substitute for curling up with a good book and reading. The History of Love was amazing!

  12. I still haven't been able to get into audio books. I've tried a couple times, and it just hasn't worked for me. My mind wanders for some reason. However, I have read several of the books you've listed here.

  13. Lisa,
    Audiobooks aren't for everyone, but for me it's another way to experience a book and it allows me to fit more books into my life.


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