Recently, Lashaan over at Bookidote wrote a post about audiobooks. It’s a really good article about the format and I recommend you check it out. If you do, make sure to read the comments too, as there are some great points made about the pros and cons of the audiobook. This got me thinking about some of the reasons why I listen to them, so I thought I would write a few words on the topic.
I’m quite late to the practice as I only started listening to audiobooks last year. When I was a child, I loved listening to stories so I thought I would see if I still enjoyed the process. I have a 30-minute drive to-and-from work during which I would listen to music or podcasts. After joining Audible, I started using my commute to listen to a book instead. (I still listen to music sometimes–it depends on my mood or how tired I am.)
If I listen when I’m driving, I can usually finish one average-length book each month. That’s around 20 hours of listening time. Now, if I choose a long book such as one of George R.R. Martin’s door-stoppers, I either need two months to finish it or I have to make more time for listening. I did this with A Dance With Dragons, listening to it when I was gardening or doing some housework. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve realized that I always listen to audiobooks when I’m doing something. But when I have some quiet “me-time,” I much prefer to sit down with a “real” book and read.
This probably sounds very obvious, but with an audiobook the narrator is crucial to how much I enjoy it. I have experienced a number of different narrators so far, some good and some not so much. I won’t name names here, as that would be cruel and completely subjective anyway. Instead, I want to share with you my “Favourite Five” audiobooks so far:
The Secret Commonwealth (2019) by Philip Pullman
Narrated by Michael Sheen. It’s a brilliant performance by Sheen that adds more to an already fantastic story. Sheen performs distinctly different voices for each of the characters giving them an extra dimension. This is the best audiobook I’ve listened to so far and has made me want to listen to everything else Michael Sheen has narrated. It’s that good! (Review coming soon…)
Dune (1965) by Frank Herbert
Main narration by Simon Vance. Character narration by Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton, and Ilyana Kadushin. The different voices and atmospheric music offer a brand new experience of this science fiction masterpiece. I was engrossed when I was listening to it and plan to listen to it again.
Heir to the Empire (1991) by Timothy Zahn
Marc Thompson narrates this exciting story that should have been filmed as the new Star Wars movie. Thompson gives a brilliant performance voicing the different characters. It also includes brief snatches of music as well as some original sound effects from the films. So much fun to listen to! Thompson also narrates the next two books in the Thrawn Trilogy and I recommend them both.
Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker
Narration by Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren, Susan Duerden, John Lee, Graeme Malcolm, and Steven Crossley. This production won a number of awards when it was released. Tim Curry sold it for me, and I’m happy to say the whole cast does a brilliant job with their characters.
Annihilation (2014) by Jeff Vandermeer
Carolyn McCormick narrates this strange and otherworldly story by Vandermeer. I found her matter-of-fact narration really suited the narrative style of the story. She has a wonderful, calming voice, in my opinion. This is a very short book and a pretty quick listen.
Let me know your thoughts on audiobooks in the comments. As always, thanks for reading.