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Good Roadtrip Audiobooks


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#21 Darrel Manson

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 12:48 AM

If you have significant $ to pay for them, there are lecture series from The Teaching Companythat can be very interesting.

#22 Christian

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 06:50 AM

Jeremy, I second everything Beth wrote above. I've enjoyed several audiobooks narrated by people with whom I'm unfamiliar. I try to remember their names, but I inevitably forget them -- until the next time I hear them read an audiobook. Point is, I'm always going for the book first, and hoping for a good reader second, although it's true that a bad reader can ruin a good book.

#23 NBooth

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 07:52 AM

Agreed with the above. Actually, the books on tape I've enjoyed most were narrated by anonymous readers, and it never damaged my appreciation of the book. Plus, if you're willing to listen to non-famous (and, um, amateur) readers, there's the whole LibriVox library (available at the website and on iTunes). I've used them a couple of times, and if they aren't the round wonderful readings that, say, Morgan Freeman would give--they ain't bad.

If you need a fabulous, famous voice, though, I would suggest Ian McKellen's reading of The Odyssey:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IiP74_5Mnc

Edited by NBooth, 28 February 2012 - 07:58 AM.


#24 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 02:15 PM

An audiobook doesn't necessarily have to be read by a well-known actor to be listenable. First, it has to be well-written. Flat writing, repetitive syntax, a tin ear for vocabulary or dialogue--all things a person might be able to skim over if the plot is moving along--will be magnified if you have to listen to EVERY...SINGLE...WORD ... Seriously, find a book you want to listen to first; don't worry about who's reading it.

Jeremy, I second everything Beth wrote above. I've enjoyed several audiobooks narrated by people with whom I'm unfamiliar. I try to remember their names, but I inevitably forget them -- until the next time I hear them read an audiobook. Point is, I'm always going for the book first, and hoping for a good reader second, although it's true that a bad reader can ruin a good book.

Actually, the books on tape I've enjoyed most were narrated by anonymous readers, and it never damaged my appreciation of the book.

Because I read a significant amount on my own, I don't really need to use audiobooks to get to necessities. Therefore, since I'm going to start using them more often, I figured I might as well seek out the very best readers. I could care less if they are famous actors or celebrities. With the sheer number of them out there, I would even assume there are probably relatively unknown audiobook readers who could read better than most celebrities. My experience with reading out loud has been cultivated by two parents who were both experts at it, with a couple teachers who taught how different classic works of literature are actually intended to be read out loud rather than silently, AND with an old (now alas, lost) audio recording (probably on a record) that I remember as a child listening to - it was a collection of famous short stories read aloud by the actor, Charles Laughton. And I still hold to this day that Charles Laughton was one of the most skilled reading-out-loud storytellers of all time.

All this said, my only experience with audiobooks was back in college, when, while working a security guard job I acquired a couple Raymond Chandler audiobooks. I forget who the readers were because I didn't last longer than an hour through the first one. I tried another to see if the other reader would do better and it was even worse. The prose of Raymond Chandler can sound wonderful when read aloud. Neither of the audio-readers could do Chandler's prose justice (one of them had a relatively high-pitched voice that, as I remember, occasionally squeaked) and the other sounded like he was bored and rather in a hurry (you cannot read Chandler out-loud quickly, it defies and destroys the entire personality of the narrator).

So, in order to try this again, I've now acquired (1) Miles Gone By by William F. Buckley Jr. and read by William F. Buckley Jr., (2) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and read by Kenneth Branagh, and (3) Pontoon by Garrison Keillor and read by Garrison Keillor. We'll see how it goes.

If you have significant $ to pay for them, there are lecture series from The Teaching Companythat can be very interesting.

Thanks for the recommendation. I am saving this for future use.

#25 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 12:47 PM

So, in order to try this again, I've now acquired (1) Miles Gone By by William F. Buckley Jr. and read by William F. Buckley Jr., (2) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and read by Kenneth Branagh, and (3) Pontoon by Garrison Keillor and read by Garrison Keillor. We'll see how it goes.

And it's going well. I'm not sure whether to really include a book I've listened to on my yearly "books read" list, because there's no way I remember half of what I listen to compared to what I remember after having sat down and read a book with a pen. But it's a highly profitable way to spend time that I can't spend reading. It sure beats listening to the radio (even listening to NPR) and it improves having to do chores around the house. After now having gone through Buckley, Conrad and Keillor (all to be highly recommended), I've enthusiastically acquired:

(4) Plutarch's Lives, Volume 1 (John Dryden's translation) - read by Bernard Mayes
(5) The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk - read by Phillip Davidson
(6) Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin - read by Robert Ian Mackenzie
(7) The Waste Land & Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot - read by Paul Scofield
and
(8) Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway - read by Bruce Greenwood

#26 Christian

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 06:33 PM

it's a highly profitable way to spend time that I can't spend reading. It sure beats listening to the radio (even listening to NPR) and it improves having to do chores around the house.

Yes! Radio is dreadful, although it's such an ingrained habit that I go back to it regularly. Plus, audiobooks only during the daily/weekly commute can turn oppressive if I don't give myself an occasional radio break between discs.

After now having gone through Buckley, Conrad and Keillor (all to be highly recommended), I've enthusiastically acquired:

(4) Plutarch's Lives, Volume 1 (John Dryden's translation) - read by Bernard Mayes
(5) The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk - read by Phillip Davidson
(6) Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin - read by Robert Ian Mackenzie
(7) The Waste Land & Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot - read by Paul Scofield
and
(8) Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway - read by Bruce Greenwood

I'm glad those earlier choices panned out. I'm currently immersed in The Pale King, just over halfway through it. On my iPod, I'm on book 2 of the Westlake's/Stark's Parker series. I read the first, The Hunter, in paper and ink, am listening to book 2 in the series and have book 5 as a free-download ebook. Mixin' it up, format-wise.

#27 Overstreet

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 02:28 PM

The sound-clip peril of recording an audiobook: Whatever you read aloud... you just said that.

Warning: NSFW. http://www.regretsy....d-of-your-shit/

#28 NBooth

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 06:20 PM

The sound-clip peril of recording an audiobook: Whatever you read aloud... you just said that.

Warning: NSFW. http://www.regretsy....d-of-your-shit/


Oh my. That's...pretty funny stuff.

#29 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 12:08 PM

An invigorating interview of Audible.com's CEO, Donald Katz, over at The American Reader:

Katz: There’s a whole community of actors that has completely woken up to us: we’re a huge employer, and we’re training people at Tisch and Yale and USC and UCLA ... We have big names, too—last year, we had Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Dustin Hoffman, Claire Danes, and others. Kate Winslet did Zola and I sold a gazillion of them and I’m thinking, “Who reads Zola?” People do. [Laughter] Working with these actors, you really see why they get paid so much. Their decisions are so sophisticated. You don’t have to go into a falsetto because it’s a woman’s voice. Some people can keep forty and fifty characters in their head—a dramaturge would say it’s too hard, but our actors can do this stuff.

Reader: I was talking about this with a friend last night, about the experience of going to fiction and poetry readings here in New York City, and in other places we’ve lived. Poetry readings in particular—are you familiar with the phenomenon of the “poet’s voice,” that horrible sing-song monotone poets put on when they read their work in public? It displays such a poverty of interpretation, imagination, craft. But the thing that’s most disturbing about this voice is that you cannot hear the poem through it: as a listener, I often actually lose the meaning of what is being read. I can say, without exaggeration, that because of that voice I sometimes actually will not even know what the poet is saying, let alone to speak of beginning to access its meaning or peculiar force. And this is the case with dead-in-the-water fiction readings, too. One realizes that bad acting is an interpretation as well…just an unfortunate one.

Katz: I think that’s right. Actually, there was a period in audiobook production when the narrators were told not to interpret. They were told that it was the author’s game—“Don’t get involved.” But we said, “We want you to add an interpretive layer.” Nothing over-the-top, of course—just in the way an actor will do Shakespeare, and make it his own. It takes thought to refract the text of a great book through the lens of performance, and over time, we have pushed up the quality and the character of the interpretations ...

Reader: To that end, I’d like to ask you—why audiobooks? Why did you pick that particular lane?

Katz: Exploring audio was interesting to me because my literary mentor was Ralph Ellison, who really woke me up to the powerful influence of oral and vernacular culture on American literature ... And let me tell you something: oral culture predated written culture by a whole lot! And you know, the joy I felt when I used to jog listening to audiobooks—it recalled the almost primordial pleasure of being read to as a child. Honestly, I think authors will begin writing for the oral format again because millions of people like that experience, which does recall those pleasures of being read to. It’s very nice to be read to. The sound of our language is beautiful, and to have it professionally intoned and interpreted—it’s just another interesting intellectual dimension of longer storytelling ...

Reader: Well, there’s also an overlap between the struggling reader and the resistant reader, which is especially important and has everything to do with the deteriorating education system.

Katz: Exactly. There are awful statistics about people who grow up in poverty: their word deficits—there are thousands and thousands and thousands of words that a rich fifth grader knows that a fifth grader from a poor family doesn’t. The US National Institute of Health is now saying that ten to fifteen percent of developing readers have perceptual and linguistic handicaps.

My oldest daughter had language processing challenges when she was a kid, a dyslexia-like learning problem, and she learned to read by taking these big, fat Library of Congress tape machines and a paperback and then synchronizing: listening and reading at the same time. And she eventually compensated and became a fantastic student—an A student. She’s just finished a dual master’s at Bank Street, and she’s a teacher in the city. This is very different from the outcome we were told to expect, and audio played into that in a powerful way. That’s actually one of the genesis stories of Audible—my daughter’s story. I mean—I’ve wanted to invent immersion reading for seventeen years ...



#30 Christian

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 04:06 PM

Great article, Jeremy!

 

 

An invigorating interview of Audible.com's CEO, Donald Katz, over at The American Reader:

Katz: And you know, the joy I felt when I used to jog listening to audiobooks.

Yes! I always take on an apologetic tone when I explain to people that audiobooks, not music, usually accompany me on my runs. Maybe I should stop treating it like an embarrassing habit and start proselytizing about it.


Edited by Christian, 27 September 2013 - 04:06 PM.


#31 Andrew

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 12:04 AM

I now travel a bunch for work, and listen to at least two books per month.  Some recent favorites:

- Dennis Lehane novels

- James Lee Burke's Dave Robichaux tales

- Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese - perhaps the most lyrical and affecting of the bunch

- Ender's Game - great use of multiple narrators

- Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby - ditto, very enjoyable

- Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

- Ready, Player One, by Ernest Cline - probably the most fun, read with great gusto by Wil Wheaton

- A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan

- The Cut, by George Pelecanos - a fine, mellifluous reading by Dion Graham - can't wait for the arrival of the sequel next week


Edited by Andrew, 30 September 2013 - 12:08 AM.


#32 Christian

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 09:10 AM

There's a sequel coming to The Cut? I liked that one, although I read it in paper-and-ink.



#33 J. Henry Waugh

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 08:30 PM

I may have said this already, but my favorite narrator is Tom Stetschulte. He's read a million books, but he's best at Craig McDonald's Hector Lassiter series and Pete Dexter's Spooner. There's a wry wink to his voice that serves humerous material and tall tales well.