Audiobooks Past, Present, and Future

Hey there audiophiles,

You are all so awesome. I mentioned in last week’s newsletter that I really want to listen to audiobooks at a higher speed but it sounded unbearably unnatural to me. As you smart and kind audiobook listeners tend to do, you came through with some excellent advice.

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It was interesting to see some common themes among your responses. Many of you said that listening at a higher speed is something of an acquired taste–-it sounds strange at first, but you gradually become accustomed to it. Narrators also played a role–you said that accents are tough to listen to at a higher speed but slow, southern drawls are often improved by kicking it up a notch. For example, audiobook aficionado Sarah said, “Certain narrators still sound amazing at 2x speed (Juliet Nicholson, Nicola Barber, Simon Vance and Luke Daniels are prime examples), while others have verbal tics that are only accentuated by the faster speed (the author of The Only Street in Paris, and the narrator for The Invisible Library immediately come to mind).”

And then there’s this cool tidbit from Andrea, “I used to work with employees with disabilities who require adaptive equipment to navigate the computer and our programs. People with low or no vision often use Job Access with Speech (JAWS).  This program reads the screen for them, identifying links, buttons, combo boxes or other controls. Power JAWS users often have a high speech rate set for their profile. People who listen to audiobooks at 1.5x may include those who are JAWS users.”

Thank you for being such responsive, interesting readers! You have inspired me to relisten to an audiobook (Stephen King’s On Writing) at 1.25x to see if I can speed up my listening.

New Release of the Week (publisher descriptions in quotes):

The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad

When Nadia Murad was 21 years old, Islamic State militants stormed her small village in Northern Iraq, massacring men who refused to convert to Islam and forcing women into sex slavery. Nadia was among those women. Repeatedly beaten and raped, Nadia eventually managed a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul, finding shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family whose eldest son risked his life to smuggle her to safety. The Last Girl is, “a call to action, a testament to the human will to survive, and a love letter to a lost country, a fragile community, and a family torn apart by war.”

Audible is celebrating 20 years (how is that even possible? Am I 672 years old?) and they’ve put together a list of their best selling books in a variety of categories. Some titles (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as the Most Repeated Listen) are expected, and others (Fifty Shades of Grey as the best-selling romance title), surprised me. That’s not a judgment about Fifty Shades; I haven’t read it. I just forgot it was ever a thing.

The most anticipated novel is Oathbringer by Brian Sanderson. According to Audible, the sequel to 2014’s Words of Radiance, “has more pre-orders than any other title in Audible’s history to date. In this epic fantasy saga, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the vengeful Voidbringers.” And is it just me, or is there something reassuring about the fact that The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” is the most bookmarked audiobook?

Check out the full list here. Audible is celebrating through November 20th with deals and other shiz happening through November 20th, so hop on them discounts while the getting is good!

Two Cool Things:

The BBC recently launched an interactive story for Amazon’s Alexa called The Inspection Chamber. Listeners are placed into shoes of a character within a story, (though not able to direct the plot or trajectory). According to the folks at Engadget, it’s “genuinely fun and entertaining” and “more Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy than Twilight Zone.” It sounds like it’s more of an audiobook that listeners can interact with, rather than a choose-your-adventure kind of game, but it’s still a pretty awesome idea. We’re living in the future!

The folks behind a project called Ambient Literature have developed an interactive story that takes readers around London. The Irish Times says the story, The Cartographer’s Confession, “encourages users to head to the areas of London featured in the story to unlock new parts of the tale.” Using a free smartphone app, the story “presents audio recordings, letters, notes and photographs to readers as they move both literally and figuratively through the story.”

The A.V. Club reviews Tom Hanks’ new short story collection, Uncommon Type. Although the review is of the print version, the reviewer makes a compelling case for the audiobook. He says, “The story collection also features dialogue that one can’t help but hear in Hanks’ voice, crammed with yowzas and lemmes and cuppa joes. This audiobook should be a bestseller.”

AudioBook Riot Recap

Rioters have been dishing out some excellent recommendations over the past few weeks.

Sarah suggests 12 books to listen to while doing holiday chores; rioter Erin gives you 6 reasons to adore Audible’s new romance package (*cough*); Nikki writes about listening to the hard stuff.

Would you like $500 to the bookstore of your choice? OF COURSE YOU WOULD. Lucky for you, we have just such a giveaway happening now. Enter to win here.

That’s it for this week! As always, you can say hey to me on Twitter, where I’m msmacb or at

Until next week,