I was introduced to audio books shortly after college. This was during the height of the Twilight Frenzy and the release of the series’ final book. Random House (the publishing house I was lucky enough to work for) didn’t actually publish Twilight, but they DID publish the audio books.
Now, I was living in NYC which meant at least two hours a day were spent riding the rails on the Q or the 2/3 4/5. I was dying to know what all the fuss was about, but was also desperate to hide what I was reading from John Q Public. (This is back when I still felt nervous about proclaiming my love for YA–what a silly little girl I was.) Happily, I was able to snag all 4 books on CD from a kind soul on one of the upper floors and I proceeded to load them all onto my computer and iPod. And, hesitations abounding on all sides (audio books?! YA books? Vampires? Werewolves? What was I thinking?) I began listening. And I fell in love.
Not necessarily with the Twilight series (though I did hungrily finish all four), but with the gloriousness that is being read to. The excitement! The voices! The multitasking! The freedom! The pure joy!
What I loved the most about audio books was the ability to do other things while reading. Wash the dishes? Yep. Folding laundry? You betcha. Walking through the city streets? No problem. Entering endless numbers into an excel spreadsheet for work? Easy peasy. My love of reading had suddenly gone mobile in a way that it couldn’t before, and I was enamored.
After Twilight, a good friend and co-worker introduced me to the 8th Wonder of the World, Jim Dale. As narrators go, he’s top notch. And he also narrates a little series you might have heard of, “Harry Potter”. And it. Is. Phenomenal. I think the movies did a fabulous job of finding actors to fit the roles, but NO one makes the characters come to life like Jim Dale. Each character has a different and distinct voice, and I swear to you that I could listen to that man read a phone book.
From Harry Potter I moved to other Jim Dale narrated books (Peter and the Star Catchers, The Night Circus, Leisl & Po), and eventually my craving for audio books led me to other YA and children books, and eventually adult books as well. Working at the library granted me almost unlimited access to all things audio, and for things the library didn’t have, I joined Audible.com. And there my listening habits have run the gamut, just as my regular reading habits do.
So below I present my beginner’s guide to audio books. Each month I’ll also do a short review of whichever book I listened to most recently.
Beginners Guide to Audio
* Don’t be afraid to start with something you know. I found that listening to the Harry Potter Series (one I was already familiar with) was a good introduction to multitasking while listening. If I missed something, it was okay–I knew how these stories went. And it got my brain adjusted to listening while doing other things.
*Jim Dale Jim Dale Jim Dale I can’t recommend him highly enough. If you’re not into Harry Potter (I won’t judge, everyone has their tastes) try some of his other work. The Night Circus is a great place to start (a grown up book!).
*Check your local library Audio books are wonderful, but they don’t come cheap. If you buy them on CD they can run you more than $50! Even on iTunes the prices might make you balk. Instead, stop by the library to peruse the collection. You’ll be surprised by how deep the library’s collections can run!
*Listen to books narrated by the author, especially if it’s a celebrity memoir There is nothing funnier than hearing the words comedians wrote read aloud by themselves.
*Share the love If you decide to join a site like Audible (I highly recommend it, they’re a wonderful company–they actually let you RETURN books if you didn’t like them and exchange them for new ones!), find a buddy. I have a pal who splits the cost of the subscription service with me. Luckily, we have similar tastes in audio books (mostly that we just love audio books and will listen to almost anything), and it makes for a mini book club all our own.
*Here are some of my very favorites, in no particular order
- Mosquitoland by David Arnold (read by Phoebe Strole)
- The Magicians Series by Lev Grossman (read by Mark Bramhall) (This is also one of my all-time favorite series) (Like, I want to get a tattoo because of it)
- Yes Please by Amy Poehler (read by, you guessed it, Amy Poehler)
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor (read by Kristine Hvam) (Another amazing series)
- The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Mary Rose Wood (read by Katherine Kellgren, who reads to you like I imagine Mary Poppins would and it is delightful)
What about you, dear readers? Do you think you’ll check out any of my recommendations? Or are you already in the groove of audio books and have a favorite you’d like to recommend? Let me know!