I don’t read much anymore! I used to read quite a bit, but after undergrad followed by grad school, I fell out of the habit of reading for fun. After all the required reading for class and long days at work, reading just dropped to the bottom of my list.
Fast forward – I began working at the Library and discovered a way to “read” while accomplishing other activities. Audiobooks! I love being able to listen to audiobooks either via CD while driving (since my car is ancient) or on my phone via the Libby app while doing just about anything else. An added benefit to audiobooks, I quickly discovered, is that they tend to have a shorter wait (if they have one at all) than print and e-books. It almost feels like I’m cheating a bit!
There is one important thing to look for in a good audiobook, besides making sure you actually like the content – the narrator. Not all narrators are created equal. I’ve quit listening to books five minutes in because the narrator either bored or annoyed me. Other narrators draw me in and make me completely lose track of time. The narrator can make or break the listening experience. I sometimes read reviews and research the narrators to determine if it’s best that I just read it myself.
Here are a few suggestions of audiobooks in which the narrator and story work well together.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to. It’s an interesting and funny first-hand account of how Trevor grew up in South Africa during apartheid when his mixed race heritage was considered illegal. It deals with some serious subject matter, but listening to him read it adds a layer of humor that would be missing if someone else had narrated his story.
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham covers her careers and thoughts up until the 2016 reboot of Gilmore Girls. Graham talks about both the original and rebooted series. This was a perfect listen for any Gilmore Girls fan and was made way more fun with her personal experiences and quirky sense of humor read by her own voice.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is a popular book, but just did not interest me. I want to keep up with what everyone is reading so I listened to it in my car. I made the right decision. The narrator was surprisingly animated given the overall seriousness of the story. The only issue I had was that the different voices were sometimes hard to distinguish, but eventually I was able to catch the slight subtleties and remember who was who. If you haven’t read the book yet, I would definitely look into the audiobook.
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer is a young adult pick that I highly recommend. If you’ve seen the movie and aren’t familiar with the books, I urge you to listen to the book, or even the first few, to help redeem the mess of the movie. The story is excellent. Colfer builds a wonderfully detailed fantasy world. Several of the main characters are Irish along with a lot of the story being set in Ireland. The narrator is actually Irish, which adds a lot to the overall experience.
Gingerbread Cookie Murder (Cosy mysteries) is an anthology with 3 short holiday mysteries by 3 different authors. I typically avoid these types of books as they are generally a little too cheesy for me, but I was looking for something light and seasonal around the holidays while in the car. I didn’t have high expectations for this, but was pleasantly surprised. Along with the story being light, the narrator had enough variety in her voice to hold my attention. Although these types of books are not my first choice, this story was definitely a second choice when the excitement of Christmas music wore off.
I have really grown to enjoy audiobooks. They are a good distraction when multitasking with other activities. If you haven’t really listened to books, now is a great time to begin. It will help those summer road trips and afternoon workouts pass by a lot faster! If you’re interested in checking out an audiobook, you can find BCDs (books on CDs) and Playaways (preloaded audiobooks) at any BCPL location. If you prefer to use your own device, the Libby app for Apple and Android devices has audiobooks available to check out by visiting the BCPL website and scrolling down to Libby. There’s no excuse not to read now, no matter how busy you are!
Kelsey Shackelford is the Community Events Liaison at the Main Library. Her favorite audiobooks are the Harry Potter series. Kelsey’s favorite time to listen to audiobooks are during long road trips.