Happy November, audiobook fans!
I missed y’all last week but I know Amanda dazzled you with her wit and excellent book recommendations. I’ve been remiss recently in getting to the Links for Your Ears/audiobooks news roundups section of this newsletter. So this week, I’m bringing you all the audiobooks news I can fit in a single newsletter so we can all catch up.
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BUT FIRST: Can we talk about listening speed? I tried listening to a book at 1.25x and it was bananas. It makes the narrator sound like they’re an auctioneer. But I think it’s pretty common to listen to audiobooks at a higher speed? How do people stand it? What am I missing? Let me know: on Twitter or at email@example.com.
I know, Halloween is over. But that doesn’t mean you have to let the spooky times go. The weather is getting colder, the nights are getting longer, you might as well curl up with a book that’s going to scare the bejeezus out of you. Bustle has you covered with a list of 8 Horror Audiobook recommendations for when you want a good scare. I’m currently listening to one of their recommendations, A Stranger in the House, and so far so good! (Also, one of the books on the list, This Darkness Mine, takes place at Oberlin College–- I was yapping about my alma mater to y’all a few weeks ago. Hoping to tackle that one next.)
I have not seen the Netflix Original Series Mindhunter because I’m worried it’s going to be too scary for me. BUT basically everyone else in the world says it’s fabulous. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Mindhunter is a fictionalized retelling of the crimes committed by a serial killer named Ed Kemper. When Kemper was in the California Medical Facility State Prison, he started narrating audiobooks for the blind. The A.V. Club cites a “recently unearthed” 1987 Los Angeles Times article about a prison program in which incarcerated individuals narrate audiobooks for the blind. From the Times article:
“Kemper, a confessed mass murderer, has read onto tape cassettes more books for the blind than any other prisoner. He has spent more than 5,000 hours in a booth before a microphone in the last 10 years and has more than four million feet of tape and several hundred books to his credit.
Two large trophies saluting Kemper for his dedication to the program, presented by supporters outside the prison, are on display in the Volunteers prison office, which has eight recording booths, two monitor booths and a battery of sophisticated tape duplication equipment.”
I actually think this is a great program, especially in 1987, when audiobooks weren’t quite as ubiquitous as they are today. But it is a little creepy when The Lad Bible puts it this way, “Next time you’re settling down on the evening and you pop an audiobook on while you relax, bear in mind that you may well be chilling out to the dulcet tones of a convicted serial killer.”
On a completely different and way less serial killer-y note: Jim Dale is interviewed on the Children of Song podcast! Dale is the Tony award-winning narrator of the Harry Potter series (in which he narrates a Guinness Book Record-setting number of distinct characters, 174 to be exact. In this interview, Dale talks about “how he came up with the voices behind those quirky characters, some of whom he met on the street, and others he borrowed from his eccentric family.” Well worth a listen to hear one of the greats.
Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Nobel winner’s best-selling audiobook got a rave review from James Kidd of Post Magazine. He says, “The story of a butler’s repressed love (for a passionate, frustrated woman and a weak-willed employer), it displays Ishiguro’s key strength: graceful prose that unravels to reveal powerful emotions, and which also conveys grand sweeps of history. This portrait of life denied and wasted is beautifully read by Dominic West, whose clipped, refined tones are perfect for Stevens, the writer’s personification of duty, self-sacrifice and moral neutrality.”
New Release of the Week: In the Midst of Winter by Isabelle Allende; Narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Alma Cuervo
I love love love audiobooks with multiple narrators. Even though there are really talented narrators like Jim Dale (see above) you can do different voices well, there’s just something about multiple narrators that makes me feel like I, I don’t know, have really bad seats at a theater and am listening to a play.
From the Publisher: “In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident – which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster – a 60-year-old human rights scholar – hits the car of Evelyn Ortega – a young undocumented immigrant from Guatemala – in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz – a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile – for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia.”
Obituary: Robert Guillaume
Guillaume won a Grammy award for his narration of The Lion King, but he was a theater, film, and television actor as well. Read his full obit here (and check out the Lion King video)!
Don’t forget (and really, how could you?), we’re giving away $500 to the bookstore of your choice! Enter to win here.
Until next week,