That Encouraging Voice in Your Ear

I’m a self help fan who hates reading self help books. When it comes to encouraging words, I want to hear them, preferably while I go about my household chores, tend my garden, or take a walk in the park. These encouraging little talks between me and my iPod are just the thing to add more creation to my recreation, or to revivify a draining commute. Here are a few recent self-help audiobooks written and read by seasoned performers that make for great listens.

Creative Quest, by Questlove. Continue reading “That Encouraging Voice in Your Ear”

Contextually appropriate audiobook narrators

Audiobooks are great. They are not cheating – they count as reading. They are also wonderful opportunities for more tangibly presenting the characters and tone of any particular work. Whether it’s an individual narrator, or a full cast with sounds effects and music, listening to a well done audiobook can really magnify your experience of a book.

I try to find audiobooks that are read by what I call “contextually appropriate narrators.” While I love the deep tones and rich textures of a British man’s voice as much as the next bookworm or theatre-lover, this voice-type isn’t always the best or only option available to convey the personality, emotion, culture, and experience of every story’s characters.

While this idea is subjective, it isn’t that subjective. Is the main character a person of color? Then the narrator should be a person of color. Is the book about Chinese people? Then the person reading should probably have Chinese heritage. Not every narrator will wholly represent an entire story and all of its characters, but I believe they should relate in some central way. Continue reading “Contextually appropriate audiobook narrators”

Book Bingo: Read Out Loud

Join The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures for our 2nd annual Summer Book Bingo for adults! Follow us throughout the summer for reading suggestions based on each category.

It is no surprise to anyone around the library that I love to read out loud. They even let me do it in public, twice a month! My wife and I used to read big novels aloud together – All the King’s Men, War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov – and we’ve just started on Stephen King’s Dark Tower books – though these are hardly titles I’d suggest to those working on their Book Bingo cards. Parents or grandparents already reading aloud to children get a freebie with this square, but for others this category may be among the most challenging. A century or more ago, people read aloud regularly, as Verlyn Klinkenborg writes: Continue reading “Book Bingo: Read Out Loud”

2016 Audie Award Nominees

-posted by Library staff

Award season isn’t over yet! Last month, the Audio Publisher’s Association announced the 2016 Audie Award Finalists and it is going to be difficult to choose winners from these amazing choices in 2015 audiobooks. The Audie is awarded to the best in the audiobook industry, in genre categories like “History / Biography” and “Humor” as well as performance categories like “Narration by the Author and “Multi-Voiced Performance”. Audie nominees are judged for performance, direction, production, and content. Listen to samples and read reviews for all the nominees here.

Being fairly picky about audiobooks–the pacing and tone of the narration has to be ‘just so’ or I’ll stick to print–I look to Audie nominees past and present for a handy selection of best bets. I often find books that I would not have considered reading in print, but that are in some way more compelling as a listen. In no genre is this truer for me than non-fiction. Here are few non-fiction highlights from this year’s nominees in various categories:

Modern Romance cover imageBest Humor:
Modern Romance
Aziz Ansari presents his research (with author and NYU sociology professor Eric Klineberg) on contemporary dating practices around the world, for which he travelled to Wichita, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, and a Manhattan retirement community. Between fits of laughter, I learned quite a bit! Continue reading “2016 Audie Award Nominees”

James Joyce at the Library!

~posted by David W.

There are some books that should be heard and not seen.

James Joyce at Seattle Public Library
Look Who Stopped by The Library on Bloomsday!

Well, perhaps that’s a little extreme. Let me say instead that there are authors whom you haven’t really experienced until you have read them aloud, or had them read to you. Most poets fit that category, and certainly Shakespeare. And for both myself and The Wild Geese Players, who will be reading him this Saturday at the Central Library, James Joyce. His Ulysses had remained largely a closed book to me. I had gotten a hundred or so pages in more than once, only to throw in the towel, addled by Joyce’s curious locutions and challenging stream of consciousness. Then I listened to the audiobook, and everything changed. Continue reading “James Joyce at the Library!”