Every year we five librarians on the Listen List panel review hundreds of new audio books, nominate and choose the twelve titles that are the very best in narration, production and story. Announced on January 26th at the American Library Association Midwinter conference in Philadelphia, this year’s Listen List is posted on the ALA website, where you can read more about the judges and the winning audios.
Sometimes people ask me how I have time to listen to all these audio books. In fact, the twelve winning titles alone represent 145 hours of listening! Added to that, each judge listened to an additional 26 audios nominated for consideration, along with all the titles we each reviewed in order to find those 38 narrative gems. Being on the Listen List and other award committees sponsored by ALA is a labor of love conducted on our own time.
In a previous blog post, I talked about my top ten audio books of 2013. Four of the titles on that list were selected for the Listen List: Longbourn (Baker); World War Z (Brooks); Heartburn (Ephron) and Ocean at the End of the Lane (Gaiman). In my “Fall Book Group Reads” post, I suggested The Boys in the Boat (Brown) as great, discuss-able nonfiction book. The audio book version of this story, read by Edward Hermann, is also a Listen List winner. I also suggested two other winners in “Thankful for Books“: The Signature of All Things (Gilbert) and Vampires in the Lemon Grove (Russell). On audio, these excellent books are made extraordinary by their narrators.
I’m delighted to introduce the remaining five extraordinary audio books on the 2014 Listen List!
Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
When a dark family secret is revealed shortly before her wedding, Korobi seeks clues in America before she can truly begin her own future in Kolkata. Exquisitely narrated in diverse accents and styles by Sneha Mathan, this lovely compelling story becomes an exotic treat for the ears.
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
When self-assured, energetic and clever cousin Sophy comes to stay in London with the Ombersleys, life changes exponentially for the entire family. Sarah Woodward imbues the voices of this Regency romp with all the hauteur, stodginess and sometimes devilishly subtle accents of the British aristocracy, never failing to match cadence and character.
River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
Set in a mythical ancient China, this elegiac fantasy pits a young warrior against raiding barbarians in Kitai, where a corrupt government has already brought society to its knees. The rich baritone voice of Simon Vance lends gravitas, authenticity and atmosphere to a lyrical tale steeped in tradition and populated by a large cast.
The Son by Philipp Meyer (read by Will Patton, Scott Shepherd, Kate Mulgrew and Clifton Collins)
Three generations of a Texas family’s history are narrated by four talented narrators who immerse listeners in the atmosphere of Texas ranching, beginning in 1849. The interlocking stories of Eli McCullough and his descendents are powerful and utterly riveting.
The Warden by Anthony Trollope
Only a reader as clever and accomplished as David Shaw-Parker could bring to life the the story of a 19th century Barsetshire alms-house warden in a way that glues ear buds to ears. Reverend Septimus Harding’s income is in dispute and his unsettled family hardly knows what to do. Scandalous!