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Book Discussion and Reviews > What are your favorite audiobook "experiences"?

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve | 527 comments I love listening to audiobooks on my commute. I used to use CDs but now that cars no longer have CD players in them, that boat has sailed! So I spend a lot of time on the Libby app.

My question to you all who enjoy audiobooks: what are some of your favorite "experiences" with audiobooks? By experiences I mean audiobooks with cool features or great narrators that are unique. I don't mean your favorite book for its content, but for its audiobook "listenability."

Some of my favorites:

* LolitaLolita as narrated by Jeremy Irons. That's right, 90's children: Uncle Scar narrates as Nabokov's smooth pedophile. He does such an excellent job of capturing the creepy charm of Humbert Humbert.

* Malcolm Gladwell's Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know is produced based as one of his podcasts. When possible, he inserts clips from interviews with the subjects as well as clips from speeches. I didn't love the book, but I loved the format.

* The Dutch House as narrated by Tom Hanks. I only started this today but I love it already because it's narrated... BY TOM HANKS!

* I can't personally attest to this one, but my wife loved Ben Folds' A Dream About Lightning Bugs: A Life of Music and Cheap Lessons because it's narrated by him and includes musical riffs to support or demonstrate what he's saying.


So what are some of your favorites and recommendations?


message 2: by Emily, Conterminous Mod (new)

Emily Bourque (emilyardoin) | 7208 comments Mod
I am so bad about this, honestly. I gave so many audiobooks 5 stars last year, just because I loved the experience of listening to them (rather than for the story's content). Trying to be more vigilant about my ratings on those this year.

But these two stood out to me as being particularly great audios to listen to:

Yes Please was one of my first audiobooks, and it was so amazing. Amy Poehler narrates it as if it's a podcast, and she brings on a ton of guest stars to help read the book and add dimension to it. Such a great experience.

Know My Name: A Memoir was an incredibly difficult book to listen to because Chanel Miller shows so much emotion in her reading, particularly in the final chapter when she reads her victim statement. Powerful stuff.


message 3: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 2218 comments I loved The Dutch House narrated by Tom Hanks, also!

Another favorite is Becoming narrated by Michelle Obama.


message 4: by Chrissy (new)

Chrissy | 840 comments World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and World War Z: The Lost Files: A Companion to the Abridged Edition are great. I wish they hadn’t split the book into 2 audiobooks, but taken together really impactful. There’s a different voice actor for each chapter, IIRC.


message 5: by Jody (new)

Jody (jodybell) | 3491 comments I’m on mobile so can’t link, but easily, 100%, without a doubt it’s Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. So much so that I only ever recommend it as an audiobook. It is just incredible. I’m partial to memoirs read by the author anyway, but this is above and beyond any of the others that I’ve listened to. His narration is perfect, he’s completely engaging, and truly brings the story to life. I obviously the funny parts are made even funnier with his delivery, but for me I enjoyed even more hearing him talk about his mother. The time of his voice conveys the admiration, respect and adoration that the printed word just can’t convey. It was the first audiobook that I’ve listened to that I just didn’t want to end. I think I’m going to listen to it again this year. I’ve been desperately hanging out for his new one, hurry up!!


message 6: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia (anastasiaharris) | 1331 comments I love the BBC adaptations of classics. They are done like old radio shows with different voice actors for each character. It is so much easier to distinguish who is who in Russian novels.


message 7: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 375 comments Jody wrote: "I’m on mobile so can’t link, but easily, 100%, without a doubt it’s Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. So much so that I only ever recommend it as an audiobook. It is just incredible. I’m partial to memo..."

Completely agree with this. Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood read by Trevor Noah was amazing.

I really like audiobooks that are read by actors and I’ve loved everything I’ve heard by Bahni Turpin, so if you can find a few narrators you enjoy, have a look to see what else they have done.


message 8: by Rachel (new)

Rachel A. (abyssallibrarian) | 2672 comments I almost never listen to audiobooks, but I absolutely loved Jeremy Irons' narration of Lolita! I don't think I would have enjoyed the book anywhere near as much if it wasn't for the audio.


message 9: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina | 390 comments ooh i love this topic!

My all time fave has to be Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Lin Manuel Miranda narrates it, which is perfect given the lyrical and poetic quality of the book.

Runner up is Daisy Jones & The Six. It's full cast, beautifully acted, and it really enhances the experience given the interview format of the book.

I also really love The Raven Cycle audiobooks. This is kind of a polarizing opinion - you either love Will Patton's odd drawl, or you hate it and there's no in between. I personally think he really captures the atmosphere of the books with his voice.

Lastly The Diviners series is really good on audio. While it's one narrator, she's incredible at making distinct voices for every character. It's kind of astounding actually. She's also very good at enhancing the spook factor to the books

Honorable mentions: Aurora Rising (also full cast), The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Sadie, and Pretty Girls.


message 10: by Steve (new)

Steve | 527 comments Sabrina wrote: "ooh i love this topic!

My all time fave has to be Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Lin Manuel Miranda narrates it, which is perfect given the lyrical and p..."


My hold on Daisy Jones came through yesterday on Libby. I'm finishing Dutch House today and likely starting Daisy Jones tonight. I'm excited for it based on that casat list!


message 11: by Becky (new)

Becky | 36 comments I loved listening to The Areas of My Expertise: An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order and its sequels by John Hodgman. The books themselves are formatted like almanacs, so I was skeptical of them as audio at all, but he made the audiobooks into their own experiences including a few of his friends as their own weird characters in his almanac universe.


message 12: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (patchworkbunny) | 1729 comments Sabrina wrote: I also really love The Raven Cycle audiobooks. This is kind of a polarizing opinion - you either love Will Patton's odd drawl, or you hate it and there's no in between. I personally think he really captures the atmosphere of the books with his voice...."

I hate his narration, so many squeaky girl voices and I don't even know what's going on with Ronan. I really wish I liked him, because then I would actually finish the series.

The narrator that changed my mind on audiobooks was Maya Lindh on the Dark Pines books. She is perfect for Tuva.

I also enjoyed all the Scythe books on audio too, though I'm not sure I would like the narrator in general, I thought he suited this story.

I think there are a lot of audiobook narrators that think they can do accents when they can't. I much prefer it when they get someone who is from the place the book is set.


message 13: by Emily, Conterminous Mod (new)

Emily Bourque (emilyardoin) | 7208 comments Mod
I tried and quit reading Station Eleven ages ago, but when my book club picked it for a read, I went with the audio and ended up really, really enjoying it. I'm not sure if that's due to me maturing and expanding my reading experiences, but I thought the audiobook was well done either way. I'm thinking I'm going to get the audio of The Glass Hotel instead of preordering the book.


message 14: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (dawnwp) | 22 comments I listen to a lot of audiobooks. Two of my standouts are Someone Knows My Name and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.


message 15: by Steve (new)

Steve | 527 comments Kathy wrote: "I loved The Dutch House narrated by Tom Hanks, also!

Another favorite is Becoming narrated by Michelle Obama."


I finished Dutch House last night; I really enjoyed the narration of Hanks and thought it was a good story. I just don't think it's going to be one I recall in a few years as a standout or even recall "fondly."


message 16: by Tracy, Constellation Mod (last edited Jan 30, 2020 08:24AM) (new)

Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2472 comments Mod
Hannah wrote: "Jody wrote: "I’m on mobile so can’t link, but easily, 100%, without a doubt it’s Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. So much so that I only ever recommend it as an audiobook. It is just incredible. .."

I hate audio LOL, but I'm going to agree with Hannah and Jody on Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood, one of the only audiobooks that kept my attention. I loved it, and I can't imagine "reading" it any other way.

I also have Becoming lined up for PopSUgar on audio, maybe I will like memoirs better in this format. Fiction just doesnt work for me.

And thanks to Emily I'm keeping my audible trial open for an extra month so that I can get a copy of Know My Name: A Memoir. I can't wait to listen to her tell her story :-)

Actually I'm going to add The Martian, I remember sitting in my car for hours after work listening to that one. I don't know if I would have finished it if I read it in print. And for a few quick and funny ones that I love- Go the Fuck to Sleep, read by Samuel L. Jackson ( or Jennifer Garner, but Jackson is my top pick). You can find that one on youtube. And a childrens book that is so great on audio that me and the kids had it on repeat until it was due back at the library: The Book with No Pictures.

Absolute WORST audiobook ever: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.... good luck with the sound effects and that "I'm not crazy" mantra...... If it was possible to throw it out the car winddow while driving high speed over a bridge, I would have.


message 17: by Jody (new)

Jody (jodybell) | 3491 comments Becoming is another favourite of mine! I think you’ll really enjoy it. She’s such an engaging narrator and it really feels like she’s sitting down with you and chatting. I liked her a lot before listening, and now I love her. She’s a true class act.


message 18: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 2218 comments Steve wrote: "Kathy wrote: "I loved The Dutch House narrated by Tom Hanks, also!

Another favorite is Becoming narrated by Michelle Obama."

I finished Dutch House last night; I r..."


I enjoyed the book but I felt distant from the characters, Maeve because she was so obstinate and Danny because he just went with the flow. The Dutch house almost seemed like a character which I did like.


message 19: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (melthereader) | 19 comments Where do you get the BBC adaptations of classics?

Anastasia wrote: "I love the BBC adaptations of classics. They are done like old radio shows with different voice actors for each character. It is so much easier to distinguish who is who in Russian novels."


message 20: by Chelsey (new)

Chelsey Keathley-Jones (keathleyc) | 234 comments Children of Blood and Bone was amazing on audio


message 21: by Peter (new)

Peter | 0 comments A couple of my favourites:

Senlin Ascends (and the rest of the series, The books of Babel by Josiah Bancroft). The audio doesn't really do anything particularly special, but the narrator is excellent. He has great timing and offers slightly different voices for the different characters without it becoming cartoonish.

Red Rising (and the series) audiobooks do the same - they start off with a single narrator but as the scope expands, there are new narrators added as new POV characters turn up.

11/22/63 is just superbly narrated.

If you are looking for some cool "effect", and you're into Star Wars, most of the Star Wars audiobooks have sound effects and music as well as the audio; They have light saber noises, spaceship noises, and music matching the tone of the narration. Most of the time it adds to the story.


message 22: by Emily, Conterminous Mod (new)

Emily Bourque (emilyardoin) | 7208 comments Mod
Oh Chelsey, I did love Children of Blood and Bone! It really helped get a feel for the worldbuilding.


message 23: by Jkmays (new)

Jkmays | 36 comments my all-time favorite is The Hate U Give. So well done!


message 24: by Steve (new)

Steve | 527 comments Sabrina wrote: "ooh i love this topic!

My all time fave has to be Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Lin Manuel Miranda narrates it, which is perfect given the lyrical and p..."


I really enjoyed the format with Daisy Jones. I especially appreciated that they stated the character's name again every so often so you can remember who everyone was instead of relying on recognizing the (many) voices each time.

Another one that had a similar format was Rant; it also had a "full cast" format, though none of them are famous actors or anything like Daisy Jones. If you listen to a lot of audiobooks, you'd recognize a lot of the voices from other narrations of audiobooks.


message 25: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia (anastasiaharris) | 1331 comments @Melissa My library has them on hoopla. I think one or two were on CD @ the.library.I am not sure where else to find them.
Audio is really expensive if not for the library. Trying to find copies for Hubby's drive to work that were affordable was really difficult.


message 26: by Joan (new)

Joan Barnett | 1544 comments I mostly listen to non-fiction on audio. My favorites were:

Becoming - Her narration really makes the book and I feel like I learned so much on it.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE - This was such an awesome book to listen to. I was never a fan of Nike until I listened to this. I really recommend it. It had a lot of funny stories in it and people working in a business just trying to get stuff done. I could relate. My kids listened to a part of it and they were all into it as well. They listened to the part on how they came up with the swoosh. It really is an excellent book and the narrator was superb.

My recent favorite is Mrs. Kennedy and Me: An Intimate Memoir. This was a great audio. The narrator did really well and there were so many moments about their lives that I hadn't heard before. Great book.


message 27: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (soapsuds) | 153 comments I prepared the following list recently of some of my favourite audiobooks for friends who are spending a year as nomads driving across North America.

Juvenile:
The Harry Potter series
Graveyard Book

Autobiography
A life in parts( Bryan Cranston)
My Life (Bill Clinton, read by him)

WWII bio nonfiction
Unbroken
Operation Mincemeat
Agent Zigzag, all nonfiction WWII books, entertaining and amazing, hard to believe survival stories.

Other nonfiction
Into the wild

WWII fiction
City of thieves
The nightingale

Quirky, endearing:
A Man calles Ove
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine

Dramas:
the hate you give
A thousand splendid suns
the underground railroad
water for the elephant
The Great Alone

Dystopian:
Ready player one (lots of 80s references)
the giver
the hunger games series

Epic stories:
People of the book and Caleb ‘s Crossing, both by Geraldine Brooks
Ken Follett’s Century trilogy (3 books, each 1000+ pages, 30 hours+ audio)
Thorn birds (an oldie but goodie, got me hooked on audiobooks back in the 90s, when they were expensive and on 4 track cassettes, 25+ hours)

Other:
Robert Galbraith series
Shadow of the wind (awesome)
books by Liane Moriarty (the reader is one of my favourites
Killers of the flower moon
You (psycho killer story, told from the 2nd person perspective, different)


message 28: by Joan (new)

Joan Barnett | 1544 comments I'm listening to Inside Out by Demi Moore and she narrates it as well. It's a good audio to listen to. I have less than an hour left of it and I have been glued to every part of it.


message 29: by Robin P, Orbicular Mod (last edited Feb 18, 2020 10:36PM) (new)

Robin P | 1823 comments Mod
I agree with many of the suggestions above. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, maybe 40 a year. I totally agree on Born a Crime, Becoming, and The Martian. I also find humorous books better on audio because the narrators are funnier than how I would read it in my own head. A couple humorous mystery series are the Chet and Bernie series (starting with Dog On It) by Spencer Quinn, where the dog narrates, and the Vish Puri series by Tarquin Hall, set in India, also the Number One Ladies Detective Series, where the accent contributes a lot. An older series is about Amelia Peabody, an Egyptologist and amateur detective, read by Barbara Rosenblatt.

George Guidall is the grandfather of audiobooks, and I especially like his reading of western books, like the mysteries of Tony Hillerman (Leaphorn and Chee series) and Craig Johnson (Walt Longmire series)

For fantasy, I like the narrations of Tim Gerard Reynolds (start with Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan) or Michael Page (start with The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch)

I don't read a lot of YA in print, but on audio I loved the Bloody Jack series narrated by Katherine Kellgren, about a girl in 1800's England who disguises herself as a boy to run off to sea. And I thought The Hate You Give and On the Come Up read by Bahni Turpin were both excellent.

I use Audible a lot and I'm sure you can browse their site as much as you like even if you aren't paying for a subscription. I found some of my best audiobooks from recommendations there.

If anyone is interested, you are welcome to join the group on Goodreads called Audiobooks where you can get lots of recommendations, find out about free and sale audiobooks, etc.


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