Audiobooks discussion

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Heidi (Yup. Still here.)  | 1549 comments Hello. Not sure if this topics has been brought up before, but I did not see it. I am currently listening to The Lovely Bones, which is read by the author. I am only on disk 3 out of 9, so my thoughts may change, but I keep thinking that perhaps they should have hired a professional actress to narrate it because I am focusing a lot (too much) on her voice (tone, inflection). Anyway I have listened to other authors like Neil Gaiman and Sherman Alexie and liked their readings, so I thought I would see if there were any recommendations for audio books read by the authors.


message 2: by John, Moderator (new)

John | 3547 comments I listened to the Recorded Books version, read by Alyssa Bresnahan, who is terrific!


Heidi (Yup. Still here.)  | 1549 comments Oh! There is another version?? I just got the one my library offered. The author is a little monotone and is obviously not a teenager. I thought it would sound better if a younger sounding person was reading it - I'll have to check around and see if my other library has the one you heard. Thanks! p.s. I can't beleive I am admitting this, but I actually listened to Tori Spelling read her book SToritelling and quite enjoyed that one as well.


Heidi (Yup. Still here.)  | 1549 comments Oh - now that I am thinking about it - how could I forget one of my favorite authors Frank McCourt - I loved his narration of Angela's Ashes and his other books.


message 5: by Dori (last edited Mar 05, 2010 02:01PM) (new)

Dori (adorible) | 4 comments Heidi wrote: "Oh! There is another version?? I just got the one my library offered. The author is a little monotone and is obviously not a teenager. I thought it would sound better if a younger sounding perso..."

Yeah, my library offered both versions. I read the reviews by edition to compare narrators and many people had noted that the version read by the author was not well done. So I picked the one read by Alyssa Bresnahan and enjoyed it.

Edit: Heidi wrote: "Anyway I have listened to other authors like Neil Gaiman and Sherman Alexie and liked their readings, so I thought I would see if there were any recommendations for audio books read by the authors."

I enjoyed the His Dark Materials trilogy and companion books by Philip Pullman and the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce. Each of these is done by a full cast with the narration portions done by the author.


Heidi (Yup. Still here.)  | 1549 comments Dori - thanks for the recommendations. Strangley I added the first Dark Materials audiobook to my tbr pile yesterday! Guess I am psychic.


message 7: by John, Moderator (new)

John | 3547 comments Heidi - a book you might like, where I felt the author read as well as a professional probably would have: Bee Season.


message 8: by Vicki (new)

Vicki | 68 comments I was surprised to find that The First Rule was read by the author.


message 9: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 172 comments Bill Bryson reads a number of his books and really enhances the experience. His dry humor shines through in his delivery as well as his writing.


message 10: by Karlton (new)

Karlton (karltonst) | 54 comments T.C. Boyle does a good job "performing" (his word) his works. Check out "Wild Child", "Talk Talk" and "The Tortilla Curtain" especially.


Heidi (Yup. Still here.)  | 1549 comments Oh Barbara...I loved Bill Bryson's audio book about walking on the trail - I forgot about that one.

John, Vicki, and Karlton -- thanks for your recommendations :)


message 12: by Dave (new)

Dave | 2 comments I just joined the group, so I don't know if this has come up before, but are you familiar with www.podiobooks.com? There are hundreds of free audio books there--almost all read by the authors. There is a lot of science fiction and fantasy, but also other titles for other interests. Pardon the shameless plug, but I've narrated two of my own books, Hunting Elf and Heart of Diamonds and published the free audio versions on the site. I'm always eager for critique, too, so feel free!


message 13: by Dori (last edited Mar 08, 2010 10:46PM) (new)

Dori (adorible) | 4 comments Heidi wrote: "Dori - thanks for the recommendations. Strangley I added the first Dark Materials audiobook to my tbr pile yesterday! Guess I am psychic."

They are good and all the audiobooks were at my library (definitely a plus!) I hope you enjoy them :)

Edit: Dave wrote: "I just joined the group, so I don't know if this has come up before, but are you familiar with www.podiobooks.com? There are hundreds of free audio books there--almost all read by the authors. Ther..."

I'm definitely going to check that out. I mostly read fantasy and I try to listen to the audiobooks if they are available. I'll try to listen to Hunting Elf sometime in the (relatively) near future (I have a few books out from the library that I know I won't be able to renew), but Heart of Diamonds doesn't sound like my cup of tea. Thanks for mentioning them :)


message 14: by Dave (new)

Dave | 2 comments Dori - Hope you enjoy Hunting Elf. It was originally written as an audio book, then published in trade paperback. And you're right, it's very different from Heart of Diamonds.


Heidi (Yup. Still here.)  | 1549 comments Dave - thanks for the info! Sara - thanks for the recommendations I'll see if my library has them :)


Heidi (Yup. Still here.)  | 1549 comments Just an update on Lovely Bones. I finished the version read by the author and recommend any future listeners get the other version read by Alyssa Bresnahan. I think it would have added a lot more to my listening experience as the author remained somewhat monotone throughout the version I listended to (no offense meant to her).


message 18: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 7 comments Obama narrating The Audacity of Hope is pretty enjoyable. Jonathan Lethem narrating "You don't love me yet" was pretty bad but I'm not sure any narrator could have saved that one (and I'm as big of a Lethem fan as you'll find).


Heidi (Yup. Still here.)  | 1549 comments Matthew wrote: "Obama narrating The Audacity of Hope is pretty enjoyable. Jonathan Lethem narrating "You don't love me yet" was pretty bad but I'm not sure any narrator could have saved that one (and I'm as big o..."

Good to know (about Lethem) - I'll skip that one.


message 20: by C (new)

C (ccp981) | 8 comments I listened to The Lovely Bones and Alice Sebold was the narrator. Even though it is her book, I really thought that as a narrator, she was too dry. I enjoyed the book, but had to re-listen to several tracks because I found my mind would wander and I would miss several tracks and have no idea what was going on or how we got there! This is my only experience with an author as the narrator.


message 21: by John, Moderator (new)

John | 3547 comments Frank Mueller's reading of Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn is probably the best audiobook I've heard since I popped in my first cassettes many years ago!

Sorry to hear about Seybold's reading of her book -- Alyssa Bresnahan was terrific reading the Recorded Books production.


message 22: by Janet (new)

Janet Knowing that a book is being read by the author is a red flag for me. There have been a few exceptions, but the general rule is that it completely ruins the experience. One thing's for sure ... I NEVER buy such books.

Barbara Kingsolver immediately comes to mind as the most disappointing (and the most persistent).


message 23: by John, Moderator (new)

John | 3547 comments I wasn't enthralled by the content, but I thought her reading of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life was okay.


message 24: by Janet (new)

Janet Four of Kingsolver's books remain on my To Be Read list because she insists on doing her own narration.

John, what didn't you like about the content of "Animal, Vegetable..."?


message 25: by John, Moderator (new)

John | 3547 comments I couldn't shake the idea that she was a wealthy person with a lucrative contract during that year.


message 26: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 7 comments John wrote: "Frank Mueller's reading of Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn is probably the best audiobook I've heard since I popped in my first cassettes many yea..."

Agree, other narrators can do great things with Lethem's wonderful writing. Just didn't care for him as a narrator.

Just finished Michael Chabon narrating his collection of autobiographical essays "Manhood for Amateurs" and for the most part I enjoyed him as a narrator. It added a more personal feel to the recording. Not all of the essays were great but that was unrelated to his narration.


message 27: by John (new)

John Parker (stingo) | 6 comments Stanley's Mom wrote: "Four of Kingsolver's books remain on my To Be Read list because she insists on doing her own narration.

John, what didn't you like about the content of "Animal, Vegetable..."?"



I immediately thought of Kingsolver when I saw this thread. I actually like her narration, particularly in "The Lacuna", where I thought she demonstrated a strong linguistic breadth. And she certainly wasn't distracting to me in "Poisonwood Bible".


message 28: by John (new)

John Parker (stingo) | 6 comments I wish Stephen King would read every single one of his books. He is my favorite author narrator, though I think he's just done a couple of his own books.


message 29: by John, Moderator (new)

John | 3547 comments I'm not a fan of his fiction, but he did a decent job reading On Writing.


message 30: by Stef (new)

Stef (firecat) | 46 comments I really liked John Crowley's reading of his novel Aegypt. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61... But I suspect not everyone would agree with me.


message 31: by Serena_v (new)

Serena_v | 51 comments Usually I like author-read audio books, I think sometimes they add to the experience by bringing the proper inflection to their words. One notable exception, for me, is Ray Bradbury's reading of 'Fahrenheit 451'. With no disrespect to the work or to the author, it sounds as though he was at quite an advanced age when this was recorded, and it is painfully slow and he seems out of breath throughout.


message 32: by Pam (new)

Pam | 3 comments Tony Horwitz both A Voyage Long and Strange and Confederates in the Attic.

Anything by David Sedaris

Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation

Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods mentioned above.

Maybe it's something about nonfiction?


message 33: by John, Moderator (new)

John | 3547 comments I think I'm the only who dislikes Bryson reading his own stuff as he seems kind of ... whiny to me; I like it when others read him instead.

I think Horwitz only reads the abridged version of those books?


message 34: by Pam (new)

Pam | 3 comments I think that's why I like Bryson's reading this particular book. He's meant to be whiny. I've read it several times as well. We've used it in American Literature class and the kids who don't like the book complain about how whiny Bryson is.

I definitely did not listen to an abridged Voyage...but maybe Confederates. That one has been a while. We drove up the East Coast and part of the way back on Voyage. Having been raised with the Pilgrims, spent 30 years in Virginia with Jamestown, it was eye-opening to hear the Spanish point of view. We drove some of that route this spring.


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Stephen Levine is a terrible reader of his own work.


message 36: by John, Moderator (new)

John | 3547 comments Pam wrote: "I think that's why I like Bryson's reading this particular book. He's meant to be whiny. I've read it several times as well. We've used it in American Literature class and the kids who don't lik..."

I can't find any evidence that Horwitz himself has narrated anything other than the abridged version of "Voyage" - the unabridged was so bogged down in details of (Conquistador) atrocities and the like that the abridged version sounds like it'd seem like a full book (over 8 hours). I wish i had listened to the abridgment instead!

Were the kids who found Bryson "whiny" basing that on reading the print book? If so, I disagree in that I like his text well enough (though not as much as his ardent fans) - it's his voice I can't stand!


message 37: by Pam (new)

Pam | 3 comments The kids were basing it on the printed text. It is one of those books that students seem to either love or hate.

Maybe it was the abridged version...I know it was Horwitz.


message 38: by Becky (new)

Becky (munchkinland_farm) | 24 comments I enjoyed Paul Auster reading "Invisible" - some of you might find him a bit monotone but I thought his delivery was appropriate for the novel.


message 39: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 172 comments I've just started listening to Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, written and read by Elizabeth Gilbert. So far, she is doing an excellent job. As I think I said earlier, I usually shy away from authors reading their work, but I think Gilbert may be one of the exceptions. When they do it well, I think it adds a layer of interest because you can hear their emphasis, etc. There are just so few who do it well.


message 40: by John, Moderator (new)

John | 3547 comments She is an exception with which I can definitely agree!


message 41: by Sara ♥ (new)

Sara ♥ (saranicole) | 249 comments Agreed! I really enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert's narration—she did a great job! Plus, I doubt there are many people who could pronounce words from the three countries well... ;)


Heidi (Yup. Still here.)  | 1549 comments I have been listening to the Georgia Nicholson series by Rennison Louise. Stina Nielsen narrates the majority of the books (there are 10); however, the author herself narrated a few and I wish she wouldn't have. Stina does a much better job.


message 43: by Serena_v (new)

Serena_v | 51 comments Heidi I wrote: "I have been listening to the Georgia Nicholson series by Rennison Louise. Stina Nielsen narrates the majority of the books (there are 10); however, the author herself narrated a few and I wish she wouldn't have ..."

Heidi, I've read the entire series, and had the exact same reaction. After one narrated by Rennison, I switched to just getting the print editions from the library. It sounded very much as though her mother had stolen, and was reading aloud, Georgia's diaries.


Heidi (Yup. Still here.)  | 1549 comments "It sounded very much as though her mother had stolen, and was reading aloud, Georgia's diaries."

Ha! Exactly ;)


message 45: by Garret (new)

Garret (ggannuch) Composed: A Memoir Composed A Memoir by Rosanne Cash Rosanne Cash
This is such a personal work that listening to the author read this to us really works. I am 2/3rds done and I have enjoyed it.


message 46: by Sara ♥ (new)

Sara ♥ (saranicole) | 249 comments Louis Sachar did a decent job narrating The Wayside School Collection... Not AMAZING by any means, but pleasantly listen-to-able.


message 47: by MissSusie (new)

MissSusie | 1887 comments One that I enjoyed was Still Alice by, Lisa Genova she did a great job on this audio and in fact I didn't realize it was the author narrating it till I was done.


message 48: by Janice (new)

Janice Susie wrote: "One that I enjoyed was Still Alice by, Lisa Genova she did a great job on this audio and in fact I didn't realize it was the author narrating it till I was done."

I agree, Lisa Genova did an excellent job narrating her own book; she is one of the very few authors I can say that about.


message 49: by MissSusie (new)

MissSusie | 1887 comments Also Celia Rivenbark does a great job narrating her books they are laugh out loud funny!


message 50: by Ella (new)

Ella Burakowski (ellaburakowski) | 6 comments One of the worst narrations of an author reading her own work was for the book Infidel, read by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A memoir, her story is so powerful and thought provoking, yet her narration was painfully monotone and mundane. What a shame, I ended up buying that book so I could read it as well as listen to it.


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