Every New Beginning…

Happy Thursday, Audiophiles!

Some housekeeping/news: While I am usually a full-time freelancer, which allows me to write this fantastic audiobooks newsletter, I have taken a gig with a production company working on documentaries, that’s going to keep me occupied full-time for the foreseeable future. So, alas, I have to relinquish my role as audiobooks newsletter writer.

But don’t despair! Your regularly scheduled audiobooks content will come to you next week and all weeks hereafter courtesy of Vanessa Diaz, Rioter extraordinaire! (More on her in a moment, but rest assured, you’re in excellent hands). As for me, I will still be posting about books of all kinds over at Book Riot when I get the chance.

Sponsored by Hachette Audio

From Dear Evan Hansen’s creators comes the groundbreaking novel inspired by the six-time Tony Award-winning Broadway hit. Meet Evan Hansen, a high school senior suffering from anxiety who inadvertently becomes part of a family’s grieving process after their son’s suicide. Offering insight into the loneliness and emotional landscape of many overlooked teenagers–especially in the age of incessant social media, the full story and experience of Dear Evan Hansen has remained inaccessible to many fans far from Broadway. Now, the audiobook – narrated by past and present stars of the show – is an ideal way to experience the complete story.

Sally is going to miss y’all, too!

And if you’ll indulge me: I want to take a minute to say how much I have enjoyed writing this newsletter and hearing from all of you. I know it’s just a weekly newsletter about audiobooks (peppered with occasional pictures of my dog) but it’s meant more to me than that. I have felt like I’m part of a secret, cool book club for audiophiles and I’ve loved it. I’m especially grateful for those of you who have written to/tweeted at me with all kinds of book suggestions opinions about audiobook narrators, etc. So while you will be in excellent hands with Vanessa (as will I, seeing as I’ll be reading the newsletter, too) please feel free to keep in touch on twitter where I’m msmacb or via email at Don’t spam me with ads for cheap viagra or anything tho, k? Thanks, friends.

On that note–-the note of loving your feedback/suggestions, not questionably sourced ED medication–-I got a couple of recommendations about horror audiobooks for scaredy cats that I wanted to share with you.

But first! Don’t forget to enter our giveaway for a custom book stamp for your personal library. Enter here!

Carla says, “I’m pretty much a scaredy cat when it comes to horror… but I recently listened to There Was a Crooked Man, He Flipped a Crooked House by David Erik Nelson narration by David Sadzin and it was fantastic… What a delightful ending… It’s fairly short 2hrs and change so perfect for the on the go person…”

The under-three hour audiobook is really an underappreciated sub-genre, so I’ll be giving There Was a Crooked Man, He Flipped a Crooked House a whirl.

And newsletter-reader-and-brave-soul Jon has managed to do the unimaginable: convince me to try listening to some Stephen King books that will undoubtedly make me sleep with the lights on for the rest of my life. How’d he manage this feat?

He says of Stephen King’s It: “I know that he is designated as a horror writer, but this book is really a coming of age/rising to the challenge with your friends by your side story. Yes ,there are scary bits but the love story takes front and center throughout.

Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.”


But Jon was up to the task! He reassured me, “I promise you that while there are some scary parts, the overall book is a really cool balance between increasing tension and a love story.. My daughter read it (at my urging) in high school and fell in love with really great writing.

That being said I would recommend working up to It with Firestarter, Cujo, definitely Needful Things, The Green Mile and The Dark Tower series. Each of these pretends to be a horror book but in reality, they all speak to the human condition with one scary caveat.

Also get as many as you can in audio. It totally ups the personal involvement in the story. Makes your brain work to ‘see’ it differently and with more color.”

Do y’all realize how much I must trust Jon to let him convince me of this?

Ok, I said I would get back to Vanessa Diaz, who as of next week will be your fearless leader!

But who is she? Well, let me tell you: Vanessa is a writer, reader and generally bookish Latina from San Diego. If loving Harry Potter and Agatha Christie is wrong, she doesn’t want to be right. Vanessa’s penchant for books, travel and tea is rivaled only by her serious addictions to milk, avocado and floral lattes. When not reading books or selling them, she can be found blogging, working on her first novel or cozying up at a library.

Check out some of her thoughts on books and audiobooks, like “Not Your Perfect Narrator,” where she talks about how representation matters–-but only if it’s done right. Or this post, where she talks about her love of Flavia De Luce series.

Welp, that’s it for me this week (and for the following weeks…SOB!). Thank you for being great newsletter readers and please be as good to Vanessa as you were to me.

Yours in audio,



Spooky, Scary Audiobooks

Howdy, audiophiles!

What’s in your ears these days? I just finished listening to Robert Galbraith AKA JK Rowling’s fourth Cormoran Strike mystery, Lethal White. I really enjoyed it–-it could have used a little more editing–-but otherwise it was really entertaining. I really liked the first two in the series, but the third was a little gross for my taste (the book opens with a severed leg being sent to the detective agency) but I still finished it, so I suppose that’s an endorsement in and of itself.

Sponsored by The Hero’s Brother by M. Scott Anderson from The Parchment Farm

It’s hard enough being barely above average, when your brothers include the deadliest swordsman of the realm, a saint, prodigies – and the greatest hero of the Middle Ages. But what if you haven’t seen your Queen of Love in years, and she’s imprisoned by lethal librarians and a one-armed religious zealot? Even worse, your only allies turn out to be vicious killers, with terrible table manners. Who all want to murder your heroic brother. The result – in a world of pedantic misrule, feckless magic, and courage both dauntless and daunted – is either High Adventure or an Identity Crisis. Or both.

Don’t forget to enter our giveaway for a custom book stamp for your personal library. Enter here!

As it’s the spookiest, scariest month of the year, I wanted to highlight some of the most frightening audiobooks but, as a scaredy cat I’m not the best authority on horror. Right now, I’m listening to the Young Adult book Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman, which is kind of like horror–-at least for me, because it’s novel about California running out of water. Coupled with that super scary report about climate change that was just released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is about as close to horror as I’m going to get. So I enlisted some help from my fellow rioters as well as scoured the internet for the horroristy horror audiobooks I could find.

Rioter Margaret Kingsbury told me what she’s listening to: “I’m listening to We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, read by Bernadette Dunne. Shirley Jackson does amazing things with character voice, and I love how Bernadette Dunne captures each character idiosyncrasy. Now when I read the title, I read it in Uncle Julian’s voice. It’s not heavy on the horror, but the creepiness slowly builds up, and the main character — Merricat — is so weirdly wonderful. It’s just under 6 hours, so a perfect quick listen.”

Rioter Jessica Woodbury also recommended The Good House by Tananarive Due (different from The Good House by Ann Leary, a book I’m always talking about how much I love). This Good House is “a story of ancient powers and modern retribution in a small Pacific Northwest town. When a young woman returns to her grandmother’s empty mansion, she is pitted against demonic forces that have poisoned her family for generations.”

I hunted through a bunch of horror audiobook lists which I’m compiling here. For descriptions of all the books, check out the links at the end of each list.

From Backpackerverse:

1) Doctor Sleep: A Novel by Stephen King

2) Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories by H. P. Lovecraft

3) Weaveworld by Clive Barker

4) Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus

5) The Haunting of Blackwood House by Darcy Coates

6) The Ghost Files (The Ghost Files – Book 1) by Apryl Baker

7) The Darkening by Paul Antony Jones

8) Alex by Adam J. Nicolai

9) The House on 211 by L. A. Maldonado

10) Wickers Bog: A Tale of Southern Gothic Horror by Mike Duran

Bustle put together a list of 13 audiobooks they think are “way more terrifying” than the written version:

  1. Amatka by Karin Tidbeck, narrated by Kirsten Potter
  2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, narrated by the author
  3. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunn
  4. The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, narrated by Kevin R. Free
  5. The Good House by Tananarive Due, narrated by Robin Miles
  6. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, narrated by Kate Mulgrew
  7. You by Caroline Kepnes, narrated by Santino Fontana
  8. Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones, narrated by Jonathan Yen
  9. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, narrated by Joy Osmanski
  10. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, narrated by Amy Landon
  11. Welcome to Night Vale‘ by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, narrated by Cecil Baldwin, Dylan Marron, Retta, Thérèse Plummer, and Dan Bittner
  12. The Visitors by Catherine Burns, narrated by Kate Reading
  13. It by Stephen King, narrated by Steven Weber

With a name like Dead Good Books, you can count on these recs to scare the bejesus out of you.

  1. The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund, read by Gabrielle Glaisters
  2. It by Stephen King, read by Steven Weber
  3. Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent, read by Caoilfheann Dunne, David McFetridge and Lesley McGuire
  4. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, read by Sean Barrett
  5. Ghost Stories by E F Benson, read by Mark Gatiss
  6. Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land, read by Hannah Murray
  7. Bird Box by Josh Malerman, read by Katharine Mangold
  8. Fear, ed. by Roald Dahl, read by Rory Kinnear, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Tom Felton and Kevin Eldon
  9. The House by Simon Lelic

Last but certainly not least, the great Amanda Nelson put together this list of scary audiobooks for Book Riot in 2016. Note that this is the *third* list on which Stephen King’s It appears, so you can be sure I will never, as long as I live, listen to that audiobook.

  1. It by Stephen King
  2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  3. The Good House by Tananarive Due
  4. Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  6. North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud
  7. My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
  8. The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle
  9. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  10. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

10 Excellent Horror Audiobooks – Book Riot

What are your favorite horror audiobooks? Or mystery audiobooks that get you in the mood for Halloween? Let me know on twitter, where I’m msmacb or via email at

Until next week,



Audio Riot! Book Riot Talks Audiobooks

Happy October, audiophiles!

You guys are the very best in the world, did you know that? A few weeks ago, I included a note in this newsletter about Mrs. Lindsey in Georgia, who was raising money for audiobooks, a portable CD player, and batteries so she can help all her students develop a love of reading. She was hoping to raise $449 by January first and was only about $150 in when the newsletter went out. And y’all stepped up in a major way! Mrs. Lindsey’s classroom met its goal and is totally funded! Thanks so much to all of you who contributed and to all of you for indulging my request in this newsletter.

Sponsored by Nobody Real by Steven Camden, published by HarperCollins.

For years, Marcie has been hitching a ride on the train of her best friend Cara’s life. Now there’s only one more summer until they’re off to college as planned. But Marcie has a secret, and time is running out for her to decide what she really wants. Thor was also Marcie’s friend—before she cast him out—and time is running out for him too. But Thor is not real. And that’s a real problem. This is the story of a teenage girl and the return of her imaginary friend, and we guarantee you’ve never read anything like it.

But before I get to that,  don’t forget to enter our giveaway for a custom book stamp for your personal library. Enter for your chance to win here.

Audio Riot: There have been tons of great audiobook content on Book Riot of late. If you’ve missed any posts this month, I’ve got you covered!

For the Masterpiece Theater fans, Rioter Gretchen has four audiobooks for filled with bodices, bustles, drama, and sweeping, sweeping emotion! Check them out here: 4 Audiobooks Masterpiece Theater Season.

Elizabeth Allen helps audiophiles navigate that eternal question: Audible vs. Libro.FM. As I’ve mentioned many times in this newsletter, Audible is so easy and convenient and reasonably priced but…you know, it’s also taking over the world. Elizabeth puts it this way:

“[Audible] is a convenient way to get easy access to an immense library of audiobooks. And aside from borrowing from your library and watching the gray hairs grow in as you anticipate your turn on the wait list, it’s one of the few ways to listen to audiobooks without having to take a second mortgage out on your house.

However, if you’re anything like me, you feel like you’re betraying your local independent bookstore each month as you get that email announcing the arrival of your new credit. But then that guilt is quickly replaced with the joy of getting to consume a book you’ve been dying to read as you slog through your daily commute. It’s a vicious, bookish cycle.”

Figure out which platform works best for your reading schedule here: Audible vs. Libro.FM: Which Audiobooks Option Should You Choose

As you may know, I looooooove nonfiction and Rioter Rebecca has 50 Must-read Nonfiction Audiobooks for you to feast your ears on. Don’t miss these 50 amazing, must-read nonfiction audiobooks including memoir, essay, history, sociology, self-help, and more.

Rioter Olivia writes about how she discovered a love of audiobooks through the library (woohoo!) and Marie Lu’s book Warcross. She says, “Listening to Warcross made me feel as though I was running alongside Emika as she competed in a game taking place in a digital world. It hooked me immediately and kept me listening to it while I cleaned my room, as I cooked, and even when I was washing my hair. I discovered how versatile audiobooks were, and how they turned mundane activities into small reading spurts.” Read the full post here: Discovering My Love for Audiobooks.

Only 3% of books published in the USA every year are in translation, and even fewer of those make it to audiobooks. Check out 10 you shouldn’t miss: 10 Great Audiobooks in Translation by Sarah Ullery

Emily Polson explains how listening to audiobooks has been a source of comfort and freedom since she graduated from college and moved to a new city. I think she’s significantly younger than I am but I related to what she’s saying here. I’m an introvert and most of my friends live across a bridge of some kind, so I spend a lot of time alone. Which made me relate a lot to this in particular:

“Since graduating and moving away from home, I’ve started spending a lot more time by myself. I go grocery shopping alone. I do laundry and household chores alone. I have two roommates, but we all have busy lives and different schedules, so I often cook meals alone, eat alone, and wash the dishes alone. These activities were occasionally solitary when I lived at home or in my college dorm, but now that’s an everyday reality of my life. I love listening to audiobooks while I do these adult things because it makes me savor that solitude rather than dwell in it.”  Read the rest of her great post here: How Listening to Audiobooks Helped Me Transition to Adulthood.

CALLING ALL STAR WARS FANS! Here’s a roundup of 5 of the best Star Wars audiobooks, including YA and MG titles, brought to you by Christine Hoxmeier: 5 of the Best Star Wars Audiobooks.

Rioter Priya writes An Appreciation for Simon Vance, Audiobook Narrator Extraordinaire. She extolls the many qualities that make Vance an excellent audiobook narrator. I’ll add an anecdote that has nothing to do with his narration: he lives not far from me and when I was working at the public library, Simon Vance was really cool about doing these Fireside Readings, where he would sometimes read a story to the public. Yes, the narration was great, but isn’t it always nice to know when someone seems like a good dude?

Finally, Rioter Cassandra has 3 Reasons Teachers Love Audiobooks by Cassandra, and Dana Lee has a post full of Rag tag space crews, alien species, ships that defy our puny understanding of science and technology in her post Audiobooks in Space! 8 Sci-Fi Titles for Voyagers.

What are y’all listening to? What can’t you wait to get your hand on this month? Let me know in twitter, where I’m msmacb or via email at

Until next week,



October Audiobook New Releases

Happy October, my audiobook-loving friends,

I’ll try to keep my preamble short and sweet cuz we got lotsa new books to get to, but I finished listening to Retta’s book So Close To Being The Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know and I thought it was great. Let me know what you’re listening to or looking forward to at and/or on twitter at msmacb.

Sponsored by Amazon Publishing

Fall into fiction with these reads. Browse the latest Kindle titles, starting from only $0.99.

New Audiobooks: October

Publisher’s description in quotes

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics by Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, Minyon Moore, Veronica Chambers; narrated by Robin Miles; release date: 10-02-18

“The lives of black women in American politics are remarkably absent from the shelves of bookstores and libraries. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics is a sweeping view of American history from the vantage points of four women who have lived and worked behind the scenes in politics for more than 30 years – Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore – a group of women who call themselves the Colored Girls.”

All four women have worked on presidential campaigns and they take listeners behind the scenes of those campaigns as well as black female politicians whose stories too often go untold.

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung; narrated by Janet Song; release date: 10-02-18

The buzz around this book is SO GOOD and having read my share of Nicole Chung’s essays, I’m confident in that buzz. Really can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

“Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up – facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from – she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth.”

What if This Were Enough written and read by Heather Havrilesky

I am a HUUUUGE Ask Polly fan; Havrilesky is so wise and compassionate (and funny!) about all things. I’ve had the galley of this forever but haven’t had the chance to read it, so I am hoping hearing her narrate it will inspire me to follow through because I think she’s the BEST.


The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: An Oral History written and read by Nick Offerman & Megan Mullally; release date: 10-02-18

I LOVE that these two are a couple and I’m positive their narration of this book alone will make it worth a listen. “Eighteen years [after meeting], Offerman and Mullally are still very much in love, and have finally decided to reveal the philosophical mountains they have conquered, the lessons they’ve learned, and the myriad jigsaw puzzles they’ve completed, in an audiobook. Featuring anecdotes, hijinks, interviews, photos, and a veritable grab bag of tomfoolery, this is not only the intoxicating audiobook that Mullally’s and Offerman’s fans have been waiting for, it might just hold the solution to the greatest threat facing our modern world: the single life.”

This Life or the Next by Demian Vitanza; Tanya Thresher – translator; narrated by Assaf Cohen; release date: 10-09-18

“Tariq Khan is a Pakistani born and raised in Norway. An outsider in his own country – adrift between two worlds divided by class, race, and culture – he’s always been searching for home…Idealistic, driven by faith, and empowered with purpose, he’s drawn to radical Islam – his last resort for achieving a sense of belonging, for embracing and being embraced. It’s only when he enlists in the war against Assad that Tariq’s eyes are truly opened. Dispirited with the violence, faced with the consequences of his choices, and increasingly distanced by the brutalities of jihad, Tariq contends with spiritual struggles that are his alone.”

Trinity by Louisa Hall; narrated by Cassandra Campbell, David Colacci, Saskia Maarleveld, John Lee, Brittany Pressley, Yetta Gottesman, Charlie Thurston, Amy Landon; release date: 10-16-18

This fictionalized account of the “father of the atomic bomb,” Robert Oppenheimer, “a set of characters bears witness to the life of Oppenheimer, from a secret service agent who tailed him in San Francisco, to the young lover of a colleague in Los Alamos, to a woman fleeing McCarthyism who knew him on St. John. As these men and women fall into the orbit of a brilliant but mercurial mind at work, all consider his complicated legacy while also uncovering deep and often unsettling truths about their own lives.”

Everything’s Trash, but It’s Okay written and ready by Phoebe Robinson; release date: 10-16-18

The author of the hilarious and wise You Can’t Touch My Hair is back with another highly anticipated essay collection. “Written in her trademark unfiltered and singularly witty style, Robinson’s latest essay collection is a call to arms. She tackles a wide range of topics, such as giving feminism a tough-love talk in hopes it can become more intersectional; telling society’s beauty standards to kick rocks; and taking a hard look at our culture’s obsession with work. Robinson also gets personal, exploring debt she has hidden from her parents, how dating is mainly a warmed-over bowl of hot mess, and, maybe most importantly, meeting Bono not once but twice.”

Family Trust by Kathy Wang; narrated by Joy Osmanski; release date: 10-30-18

“Meet Stanley Huang: father, husband, ex-husband, man of unpredictable tastes and temper, aficionado of all-inclusive vacations and bargain luxury goods, newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. For years, Stanley has claimed that he’s worth a small fortune. But the time is now coming when the details of his estate will finally be revealed, and Stanley’s family is nervous. As Stanley’s death approaches, the Huangs are faced with unexpected challenges that upend them and eventually lead them to discover what they most value.” Library Journal says, “Readers who enjoy complicated novels about family issues will find this engrossing work impossible to put down.”

I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff written and read by Abbi Jacobson; release date: 10-30-18

One half of the comedy duo that is Broad City shares her reflections on any and everything, with some original illustrations to boot. “Driving across the country alone, Abbi Jacobson “mulled over the big questions: What do I really want? What is the worst possible scenario in which I could run into my ex? How has the decision to wear my shirts tucked in been pivotal in my adulthood? In this collection of anecdotes, observations and reflections – all told in the sharp, wildly funny, and relatable voice that has endeared Abbi to critics and fans alike – listeners will feel like they’re in the passenger seat on a fun and ultimately inspiring journey.”

A plethora of choices for October! Get listening!

Until next week,



Shiny, Happy, Uplifting Audiobooks

Heya audiophiles!

It’s been a tough week and I think it’s only going to get tougher. The Kavanaugh allegations have been somewhat triggering for me and, because I can’t stop myself, I keep getting in fights with jerks on Twitter about it, which is not helping the situation.

the good neighborSponsored by Oasis Audio, publisher of THE GOOD NEIGHBOR: THE LIFE AND WORK OF FRED ROGERS, written by Maxwell King and narrated by LeVar Burton.

If you’re riding the wave of Mister Rogers nostalgia with the rest of America, don’t miss The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers.Maxwell King has written the first-ever full-length biography of Mister Rogers himself, tracing Fred’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work.

And who better to voice the story of a PBS icon than LeVar Burton? Best known as the host of Reading Rainbow, LeVar was personally mentored by Fred. Between LeVar’s undisputable knack for storytelling and the depth of King’s content, The Good Neighbor audiobook is an exceptional listening experience

So, in order to give us all a break from the heavy-duty issues, and inspired by the Emmys this week, I thought I’d put together a list of audiobooks that are fun, lighthearted, and decidedly unbummery. So if you, for whatever reason, need a break from Very Intense Things, feast your ears on the following audiobooks. You’ll notice that a lot of them are by female celebrities/comedians and that’s no accident. These ladies are smart and funny and I’ve listened to at least one of these audiobooks several times because I enjoyed it so much.

Unless otherwise attributed, the publishers’ descriptions in quotes.

So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know written and read by Retta

I can’t believe I haven’t listened to this yet, considering I am Officially Parks and Recreation’s number one fan (as decided by me). But I have it on good authority (AKA Rioter Jessica) that it’s “delightful.” And how could it not be, with a description like this, “Whether reminiscing about her days as a contract chemist at GlaxoSmithKline, telling ‘dirty’ jokes to Mormons, feeling like the odd man out on Parks, fending off racist trolls on Twitter, flirting with Michael Fassbender, or expertly stalking the cast of Hamilton, Retta’s unique voice and refreshing honesty will make you laugh, cry, and laugh so hard you’ll cry.” Actually, I’m gonna add it to my cart right now. There! I’ve convinced myself, if no one else.

you can't touch my hairRioter Jess (not to be confused with Jessica) says that You Can’t Touch My Hair (And Other Things I Still Have to Explain) written and read by Phoebe Robinson is “still the funniest audiobook I’ve ever listened to, and it’s been like three years.” Robinson “explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is ‘Queen. Bae. Jesus’ to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, to the top spot on iTunes.” Released in 2016 to critical acclaim, You Can’t Touch My Hair earned a spot on Glamour’s Top 10 Books of 2016 and was featured on Refinery 29’s list of “Best Books of 2016 So Far.”

You’re on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir written and ready by Parker Posey

I’m listening to this one right now, for the second time. I’m listening to it for the second time, not just because I love Parker Posey (which I do, very much) but because Posey’s voice is so delightful and almost hypnotic, that I know I spaced out while listening and want to go back and listen to certain parts again. The conceit of the memoir is that you’ve found yourself sitting next to Posey on an airplane. This is perhaps the only plane scenario in which I wouldn’t spend the entire flight picturing the plane plummeting to the ground in a fiery deathball (I am a little afraid of flying) but I digress. The audio is particularly delightful for this because the producers have added small sound effects every so often: a dink cart rattling by, the pinging of the flight attendant call button, etc. Plus, it’s written and narrated in this stream of consciousness quintessential Parker Posey way. It’s wonderful.

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee written and read by Sarah Silverman

This one is a personal favorite of mine but comes with a caveat: if you’re not a fan of Sarah Silverman’s stand-up, especially her raunchier stuff, this is not the audiobook for you. But if you like that kind of thing, I love this book. And it’s not all raunch. She’s got some very sweet stories about her family, growing up, working through depression, all that good stuff. There’s also a lot about pee and other bodily fluids. Booklist puts it well, “Silverman takes readers on a tour of the underground tunnel that is her mind, and believe me, it is as full of muck as the sewers of Paris. Only funnier….[A]n absurdist’s delight.” I suppose that makes me an absurdist, because I find this audiobook delightful.

Rioter Jamie suggested these two, saying that both are “fun, entertaining, and let her unplug.”

The Kiss Quotientcover of the kiss quotient by helen hang by Helen Hoang; narrated by Carly Robins

30-year-old Stella Lane doesn’t have as much experience in the dating department as she’d like. “It doesn’t help that she has Asperger’s and that French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish.” Deciding that the only way she’s going to get the experience is practice, so she hires a Vietnamese-Swedish escort Michael Phan to help her out.  “Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses but also to crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges convinces Stella that love is the best kind of logic…”

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson cover imageUndead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson; narrated by Rebecca Soler

I don’t know how you pass up a book with this description: “Veronica Mars meets The Craft when a teen girl investigates the suspicious deaths of three classmates and accidentally ends up bringing them back to life to form a hilariously unlikely – and unwilling – vigilante girl gang.” Like, I don’t have to tell you anything more about the book, do I?

Rioter Carina suggests Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas for a laugh-out-loud story about growing up Iranian in America. She also says that Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime about growing up in the final years and aftermath of apartheid-era South Africa “is probably the funniest book I’ve ever heard.”

Do y’all have any favorite audiobooks you listen to when you need something shiny/happy/uplifting? Let me know on twitter at msmacb or via email at 

(I try to respond to all emails but even if I can’t get to a response, I promise I read and cherish all of them!)

Until next week,




The Pros and Cons of Audible Originals

Happy Thursday, audiophiles,

Boo-hoo, I have the flu! Fortunately, I got my germy little hands on this sucker (Bob Woodward’s Fear), so I’m doing ok, considering everything hurts and–-at least according to Woodward and other reputable journalists covering the White House–-we all have good reason to be afraid.

Sponsored by Nobody Real by Steven Camden, published by HarperCollins

For years, Marcie has been hitching a ride on the train of her best friend Cara’s life. Now there’s only one more summer until they’re off to college as planned. But Marcie has a secret, and time is running out for her to decide what she really wants. Thor was also Marcie’s friend—before she cast him out—and time is running out for him too. But Thor is not real. And that’s a real problem. This is the story of a teenage girl and the return of her imaginary friend, and we guarantee you’ve never read anything like it.

Kid Lit lovers! Don’t forget we’re giving away a 6-month subscription to OwlCrate Jr! Enter here!

Audible continues to dominate the audiobooks market, no surprise there. As The Verge announced, Audible is giving members two free original audiobooks each month.

The Audible originals are produced in-house, like the podcasts found in the Channels section of the Audible app. The Verge explains, “The new Audible Originals offering will work similarly to a book-of-the-month club: on the first Friday of each month, Audible will release a list of six original titles, from which subscribers can download two, alongside the credits that they already pick up as part of their plan. This month’s titles are Michael Lewis’ The Coming Storm, Carey Mulligan’s Girls & Boys, Jane Austen’s Emma, Jack Cantos’ The Dented Head of Joey Pigza, Sharon Washington’s Feeding the Dragon, and The X-Files: Cold Cases.

Audible is bringing in some heavy hitting narrators to help with the narration of the Originals: Emma Thompson narrates the AO version of Emma. You can find out more about that choice and listen to a sample via Bustle here.

So while I’m all for free Audible tacking on free audiobooks produced in-house to Audible memberships, I’m less wild about the fact that Audible Original programming that isn’t available in print. While only Audible members (or those who wish to purchase it separately from Audible) can listen to Emma Thompson and cast’s dramatized narration of Emma, anyone can go to their local library and check out the print or audio version of Jane Austin’s classic novel. By and large, however, the Audible Originals don’t have print counterparts, and that’s what makes me feel a little squishy about the whole thing.

For example, as noted by Joshua Kim on the Inside Higher Ed blog, Lewis’ Audible Original, The Perfect Storm, in which “Lewis uses the lens of weather, and the Department of Commerce’s National Weather Service, to explain why the federal government matters to all of us” is only available on audio. According to Kim, the short audiobook is very informative and well done–-just what you would expect from an author as accomplished as Lewis. In fact, Lewis has signed a deal with Audible to release four more short books only as audiobooks on Audible. What’s not to like? Kim puts it well:

“Isn’t it a good thing if exclusive audiobook deals serve to bring more people to audiobooks? The answer, I think, is that it is a mistake to attempt to grow the use of any medium by shutting down access to other platforms. Reading should never be a zero-sum game. Yes, I want an audiobook option for my books. But that does not mean that I don’t want there to be print and e-book options as well.”

Kim goes on to talk about how his wife doesn’t like audiobooks. “She feels that her retention of audiobooks is limited compared to reading with her eyes. My wife might love The Coming Storm. But she will not read this book. The audiobook only format is shutting her out.”

As many of you know, I am an accessibility nut. One of the things I love about audiobooks, in fact, is that they often make books accessible to more people. So, like Kim, I think material should be consumable all the different ways: print, e-books, audio, etc. I love podcasts, but one of the quibbles I have is that too few podcasts posts transcripts of their episodes. (I realize it’s not always feasible, but in my perfect world, that’s what I would like to see in a perfect world). So I am not thrilled about audiobook only content, but maybe I’m just being uptight. What do y’all think? Let me know on twitter at msmacb or via email at

That’s kind of a bummery note to end on, so here’s some good accessibility news: Penguin Random House launched a partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People, making its books available to blind and partially sighted readers. 25,000 Penguin Random House titles – together with new releases – are now available to RNIB Bookshare members for free.

And, finally, if you have a couple extra dollars to spare, consider donating to this fourth-grade classroom in Austell, Georgia. Mrs. Lindsey is raising money for audiobooks, a portable CD player, and batteries so she can help all her students develop a love of reading. More than three-quarters of her students are from low-income households. She’s hoping to raise $449 by January 1st. If you’re feeling generous, take a look at her page here.

That’s it for me this week! I’m gonna go drown myself in DayQuil!

Until next week,



Back-to-Audiobooks: September New Releases

Happy September, audiophiles!

We got a lotta new audiobooks this month, and I want to get to as many of them as possible, so let’s dig right in! This is by no means a complete list, but I tried to pick titles you might not have heard about (sorry, Bob Woodward!) from a range of genres. As always, the publisher’s descriptions in quotes.

Sponsored by Oasis Audio, publisher of THE GOOD NEIGHBOR: THE LIFE AND WORK OF FRED ROGERS, written by Maxwell King and narrated by LeVar Burton.

If you’re riding the wave of Mister Rogers nostalgia with the rest of America, don’t miss The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers.Maxwell King has written the first-ever full-length biography of Mister Rogers himself, tracing Fred’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work.

And who better to voice the story of a PBS icon than LeVar Burton? Best known as the host of Reading Rainbow, LeVar was personally mentored by Fred. Between LeVar’s undisputable knack for storytelling and the depth of King’s content, The Good Neighbor audiobook is an exceptional listening experience

BUT FIRST: Don’t forget to share the ins-n-outs of your reading life in our Fall Reader Survey. Also, for fans of Kid-Lit, we’re giving away a six-month subscription to OwlCrate Jr! Enter here.

I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan; written and read by Khalida Brohi; release date: 09-04-18

Raised to believe in the sanctity of marriage, Khalida Brohi’s world changed forever when she learned that her cousin had been murdered by her uncle in an “honor killing.” Her cousin had fallen in love with a man other than her betrothed. “This moment ignited the spark in Khalida Brohi that inspired a globe-spanning career as an activist, beginning at the age of 16. From a tiny cement-roofed room in Karachi where she was allowed 10 minutes of computer use per day, Brohi started a Facebook campaign that went viral. From there, she created a foundation focused on empowering the lives of women in rural communities through education and employment opportunities, while crucially working to change the minds of their male partners, fathers, and brothers.” (Also the cover is GORGEOUS).

Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control by Kathleen Taylor; narrated by Jennifer M. Dixon; release date: 09-04-18

It’s possible that in my next life/in an alternate universe, I might be an evil dictator. Or some other kind of “bad guy.” Because I am waaayyyy too fascinated by this kind of stuff. But you don’t have to be into world-domination to be interested in this book. A research scientist at Oxford University, Kathleen Taylor,  “brings the worlds of neuroscience and social psychology…In elegant and accessible prose, and with abundant use of anecdotes and case-studies, she examines the ethical problems involved in carrying out the required experiments on humans, the limitations of animal models, and the frightening implications of such research. She also explores the history of thought-control and reveals how it persists all around us, from marketing and television to politics and education.” Originally published in 2004, the audio version includes an updated introduction by the author, “reflecting on the uses of brainwashing today.”

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia; narrated by Patricia Rodriguez; release date: 09-04-18

For those of you who are less “world-domination” oriented and just looking for a good thriller, Leave No Trace might fit the bill. “There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.” The boy and his father were presumed dead. When the son appeared a decade later, he was “violent, uncommunicative, and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last 10 years of his life….As [Maya’s] drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father, who has disappeared from the known world.”

Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer by Lisa McCubbin; narrated by Amanda Carlin; release date: 09-11-18

For some, her name is synonymous with “rehab.” But Betty Ford was more than just a person in (and eventual champion of) recovery. “Setting a precedent as first lady, Betty Ford refused to be silenced by her critics as she publicly championed equal rights for women and spoke out about issues that had previously been taboo – breast cancer, depression, abortion, and sexuality.  With poignant details and rare insight, McCubbin reveals a fiercely independent woman who had a lively sense of humor, unwavering faith, and an indomitable spirit.”

We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by Jose Andres; narrated by Jose Andres, Luis A. Miranda Jr.; release date: 09-11-18

Few people have supported Puerto Rico through the yearlong, devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria like Jose Andres. “Andrés and his team fed hundreds of thousands of people, including with massive paellas made to serve thousands of people alone. At the same time, they also confronted a crisis with deep roots as well as the broken and wasteful system that helps keep some of the biggest charities and NGOs in business. Based on Andrés’ insider’s take as well as on meetings, messages, and conversations he had while in Puerto Rico, We Fed an Island movingly describes how a network of community kitchens activated real change and tells an extraordinary story of hope in the face of disasters both natural and manmade, offering suggestions for how to address a crisis like this in the future.”

All of This Is True by Lygia Day Penaflor; narrated by Amielynn Abellera, Mike Rylander, Jay Aaseng, Sharmila Devar, Rachel Jacobs, Em Eldridge, Nora Hunter, Taylor Meskimen, Merritt Hicks, Arnell Powell, Jesse Bernstein, Adam James Conner, Susan Hanfield, Ann Simmons; release date: 09-18-18

If you are a lover of full cast audiobooks with a heavy dollop of suspense, check out All of This is True. “In this genre-defying story from Lygia Day Peñaflor, four teens befriend their favorite YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book – with devastating consequences.” Told “as a series of interviews, journal entries, and even pages from the book within the audiobook” this sounds like some original spooky scary goodness.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan; narrated by Dion Graham; release date: 09-18-18

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Wash is the story of “George Washington Black, or “Wash”, an 11-year-old field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is terrified to be chosen by his master’s brother as his manservant. To his surprise, the eccentric Christopher Wilde turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist…But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, Christopher and Wash must abandon everything…What brings Christopher and Wash together will tear them apart, propelling Wash even further across the globe in search of his true self.”

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen written and read by Jose Antonio Vargas; release date: 09-18-18

Especially in this political climate, it’s too easy to forget the human faces behind “political issues.” Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist seeks to bridge that divide with his own personal experience of being undocumented. “This book is about homelessness, not in a traditional sense but in the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like myself find ourselves in. This book is about lying and being forced to lie to get by; about passing as an American and as a contributing citizen; about families, keeping them together, and having to make new ones when you can’t. This book is about constantly hiding from the government and, in the process, hiding from ourselves. This book is about what it means to not have a home.”

Lights on the Sea by Miquel Reina; narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner; release date: 09-25-18

Fans of magical realism and unexpected journeys, take note: “On the highest point of an island, in a house clinging to the edge of a cliff, live Mary Rose and Harold Grapes, a retired couple still mourning the death of their son thirty-five years before. On the eve of eviction from the most beautiful and dangerously unstable perch in the area, they’re uprooted by a violent storm. The disbelieving Grapeses and their home take a free-fall slide into the white-capped sea and float away…Ahead of them, a light shimmers on the horizon, guiding them toward a revelatory and cathartic new engagement with life, and all its wonder.”

Which September releases are you most looking forward to? Which should I have included on the list but didn’t because I’m a bad, bad newsletter writer? Let me know, either on twitter where I’m msmacb or via email at

Until next week,



End-of-Fummer Audiobooks Week Special Edition

Heya audiophiles,

As the summer comes to a close (*sob*), we at Book Riot want to make sure you’ve got all the audiobooky content you could want. If you haven’t had a chance to check out what’s been happening in Book Riot audiobooks world for this week’s End-of-Summer Audiobooks Week, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered:

Sponsored by Macmillan Audio

Macmillan Audio records the best fiction and nonfiction available for both adults and children from Macmillan’s publishers, in addition to publishing original productions and titles from other publishers.

Mary Kay McBrayer wrote about SOUTHERN AUDIOBOOKS WITH NARRATORS WITH DECENT ACCENTS. No fake twang here: the narrators of these Southern audiobooks are the real deal.

Because we are not ready to say goodbye to poolside fun just yet, Rioter Ashley has 8 GREAT POOLSIDE AUDIOBOOKS.

Audible has a giant sale right now: until September 2nd, members can purchase over 200 titles for $5.95 each. With so many titles available, how do you know where to start?  Rioter Alex is here to help you navigate the best of their massive selection: THE BEST OF AUDIBLE’S “AS YOU WISH” SALE.

There are few things more awkward than hopping in the car with the whole family only to realize the audiobook you selected is not exactly…family friendly. Spare yourself uncomfortable road trips with Emily Martin’s list of all-ages audiobooks that you can play in the car without worrying about that terrifying experience of listening to a sex scene with your parents/kids. 12 ALL-AGES AUDIOBOOKS.

Want some true crime? A classic? Want to learn something new? There’s a Robin Miles audiobook for that (and everything else). Check out Rioter Laura’s post, A ROBIN MILES AUDIOBOOK FOR EVERY MOOD.

Eventually, you’ll have to swap the beach bag for the school bag and Holly Genovese has a list to help soften the blow. Here are campus novels and fall-tastic audiobooks to get you back in the mood for back-to-school. HIT THE (AUDIO)BOOKS: BACK-TO-SCHOOL LISTENS.

Rioter Aimee has your middle-grade needs covered with twelve middle-grade audiobooks written and read by own voices authors and performers for when you want to hear own voices as well as read them. Check them out here: 12 OWN VOICES MIDDLE-GRADE AUDIOBOOKS.

There are some books that are just better on audio and if you are mystery or thriller fan, Jamie has the list for you. These books are absolutely better on audio, so get them in your ears. MYSTERY AND THRILLERS THAT ARE BETTER ON AUDIO.

If you didn’t get into Moby-Dick when you read it in school, try it again in Anthony Heald’s sardonic audiobook narration. Check out the best classics on audio here: 5 CLASSICS THAT GAIN NEW MEANING WHEN YOU LISTEN TO THE AUDIOBOOK.

Still waiting for your Hogwarts letter (WHO ISN’T?!)? Rioter S.W. Sondheimer has good news: there are plenty of other magical mystery sci-fi and fantasy schools to choose from. Take a look (and then a listen) here: MAGIC, MYSTERY, AND MATH: 5 AUDIOBOOKS ABOUT SCI-FI AND FANTASY SCHOOLS.

Love true crime? Looking for your next great listen? Beth put together just the list for you! Here are ten awesome true crime audiobooks that will keep you on your toes: 10 OF THE BEST TRUE CRIME AUDIOBOOKS.

Rioter Ashlie is an elementary librarian and devoted bookish mother. So she knows what she’s talking about when she shares her tips for using audiobooks to pad out family reading time during lazy summer days. BONDING WITH MY SONS OVER AUDIOBOOKS.

And up just today: a quiz to help you find your next romance audiobook, 12 great YA audiobooks from this year, and short nonfiction audios for your next roadtrip!

I hope you find some new favorites in this plethora of audiobook lists and recommendations. Summer may be on it’s way out, but being magically transported through the power of audio is here all year around.

As always, you can say hello and let me know what you’re listening to or anything else audiobook related on twitter at msmacb or email at

Until next week,




How Audiobooks Improve Our Mental Health

Happy Thursday, audiophiles!

This week has been audiobooks week over at Book Riot, so we’ve got *two* audiobook newsletters for you this week–-stay tuned for another one tomorrow!

Sponsored by Flatiron Books, publishers of Mirage by Somaiya Daud

An “enriching, thrilling, and captivating” (BuzzFeed) epic fantasy inspired by the author Somaiya Daud’s Moroccan heritage about a poor young woman who must become the body double of a princess of a ruthless empire.

Meanwhile, I would be a terribly negligent audiobooks editor if I didn’t mention the massive “As You Wish” sale that Audible has going on until September 2th. They’ve put together a list of books that frequently end up on Audible Wish Lists for $5.95 each. You do have to be an Audible member or a “light customer” (I don’t know what that means, but hopefully if you are one, you do).

I picked up To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before because people are raving about the movie and I definitely want to listen to it before I see the film. Anyway, if you’re an Audible member (or light customer), go stock up while the getting is good.

Also, it’s your LAST CHANCE to enter to win 16 books recommended on the Recommended podcast! Enter here!

I cannot express how much I love hearing all the different ways that audiobooks help with your mental health. Like this two hilariously relatable examples. The first comes from Heather:

“Hope this isn’t too mean for you. My 78-year-old mother is very immature and a drama queen. Twice a year, I drive the 2-hour drive to the shore and back a few days later with her riding shotgun. She has certain things that she always complains about, when I list solutions, she is unwilling to try anything. BUT. When I pick her up and have an audiobook playing (she hates audio books, tho she’s never tried one herself) and I apologize and tell her I MUST finish this for work before we start vacation, she doesn’t whine. AND SHE LOVES THE STORY, then says: maybe I should try those.”

Similarly relatable (at least for me) comes from another reader:

“I used to have a problem with road rage, I drove to downtown DC daily and just would get very competitive and angry about getting stuck behind someone making a left turn, or someone who seemed to be jockeying for my position or to jump in front, etcetera and just in general, being impatient, infuriated and rude, including gesturing and mouthing angry words.  I started listening to books on tape, from the library, while driving. I believe it started when I was listening to Harry Potter books with my son, who had also read them and wanted me to do so as well, but I knew I’d never have the time. (I later realized I loved reading them as much as listening but they are a special category all their own). Maybe it was before that, but I found that listening to books on tape, and later, on CD, completely removed me from the anxiety and angry mindset I was used to when driving.  I just didn’t care that much anymore, cut me off, not interested, sure, go ahead….. I was really so much more relaxed. The radio did not have that effect on me at all. Now, the main stress is coming to the end of a book and having nothing suitable to listen to next. I have several possibilities from the library with me in the car at all times, so usually I’m covered.”

I very much relate to this. Being stuck in traffic used to drive me absolutely batty (and sometimes it still does), but if I’m listening to a good audiobook, being stuck in traffic feels more like a lucky break than a pain in the butt.

And as much as audiobooks help our mental health when it comes to melodramatic mothers and road rage, but they can be helpful in even more consequential ways.

Christina wrote, “I have ADHD and listening to audiobooks helps me get through books faster than normal because I can do other things and listen to the reading, instead of only reading. I can’t focus more than 2 or 3 hours consistently with most things and doing only 1 thing at a time can be frustrating when there’s so many things on my mind, but with audiobooks I not only get some reading done, I can also be productive (or lazy, depending on my mood).”

Katherine discovered audiobooks could be a part of her self-care while she was in law school, and it’s stuck with her. She says, “Audiobooks were a very important piece of my self-care routine during law school. At the end of the day, I would be dying for a mental break/escape after classes and hundreds of pages of reading and outlining, but my eyes would be tired and I also had SO many other things that I needed to do in the 1-2 hours of “free” time I squeezed in most days (like…laundry and eating and bathing and very occasionally working out), so sitting down to read for fun wasn’t a real option. BUT I could do all of those things and listen to an audiobook at the same time, which let me escape into a story for the mental break I needed while simultaneously addressing my physical needs.  Stories have always been my lifeline in the midst of depression and audiobooks are my preferred method of delivery when things get insane and it’s taking every bit of time to just stay marginally on top of things.”

SO MUCH THIS. I feel like audiobooks have gotten me through some rough periods without me even realizing it. Because sometimes all you have the energy to do is curl up in the bed in the dark. And being able to escape into another world when that happens is priceless.

And last but certainly not least is Mandy who says, “I listen to audiobooks all the time, as I am blind. I couldn’t do without audiobooks, they’ve saved my sanity numerous times. Just switching off and listening to an audiobook is so calming and relaxing, especially if you can get into the story and almost live it.”

I love that description. When an audiobook is super captivating, it really does feel like you’re living it.

Thanks to Mandy and everyone else who responded. As always, you can find me on twitter at msmacb and via email at Stay tuned for another audiobooks newsletter tomorrow!




Your Very Favorite Narrators

Hey Audiobook lovers,

As always, y’all are awesome! Not only did you send lots of interesting ways that audiobooks have helped your mental health but you also sent a bunch of great comments about your favorite audiobook narrators and/or what makes a good audiobook narrator. So I thought this week I would do a round-up of your thoughts. If you want to still send how audiobooks have helped your mental health, I’ll compile those for a future newsletter. You can reach me for this, or anything else, at and/or on twitter at msmacb.

Sponsored by Macmillan Audio

The most addictive and unpausable debut thriller audiobook you’ll hear this year. Adam adores Emily and Emily thinks Adam’s perfect. But lurking in the shadows is a rival, a woman who shares a deep bond with the man she loves. While Emily chose Adam, she didn’t choose his mother Pammie. There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants: Emily gone forever. Listen to a bonus conversation with the author at the end of the audiobook!

Don’t forget to enter our August giveaway! Enter to win 16 awesome books featured on the Recommended podcast here.

We talked about this a little bit last week, but it’s worth further consideration: what makes a good audiobook narrator? Newsletter reader Tatjana notes that the narrator one of an audiobook she recently enjoyed has all three of the best narrator traits Mary Kay mentioned in the Book Riot post I cited last week. Tatjana says, “I recently really enjoyed Dylan Baker’s narration of The Grapes of Wrath.  His narration exemplifies Mary Kay’s 3 traits of a great audiobook, specifically the third, “reads with a tone reflective of the narration itself.”  Baker could have easily dipped into a hillbilly accent in his narration, but instead is respectful of the dialects of the midwestern farmers.”

Sometimes you don’t need to be able to define the qualities that make a good narrator to know when they’re in your ears. Newsletter reader Harise says, “I don’t know what makes a bad reader or a good one, just that I know it when I hear it.  I was mistaken once, and returned Where’d You Go Bernadette to the library after half a listen, because the shrill child’s voice narrator put me off. I decided to try again and was so glad, one of the best! But my friend tried it and couldn’t get past the voice.”

There are so many audiobooks like that for me. Either I didn’t like the narration at first but kept listening because I was too lazy switch to a different one, or I gave up on it only to try it again later and couldn’t even remember what it is I didn’t like about it the first time. (For what it’s worth, Where’d You Go, Bernadette wasn’t one of those for me. I liked it right off the bat.)

So which audiobooks have met Harise’s standard of excellent narrators? One happened early in Harise’s audiobook listening career. “One of the first audio books I heard was Hot Springs by Stephen Hunter. I remember that the narrator was a radio actor and he was very good in reading all the tough guy roles with good inflections, the feminine roles, the police, lots of variance in how he portrayed them. My very first audiobook was Far from the Madding Crowd, and that is another I’d recommend. The narrator is female but does a good job on all the voices.”

Harise also says, “all of the audio Stephen King books and stories that I’ve heard, have excellent narration.  I really liked the main story in Hearts In Atlantis, which is really most of the book, and the narration is wonderful. There’s a second part to the book that is narrated by King himself and he’s a good writer but I don’t recommend he narrate his own books. The difference was huge.”

The only Stephen King novel I have been brave enough to listen to on audio (because I’m a big, wimpy baby) is 11/22/63 and the narration was fantastic. It was also scarier than I thought it was going to be–-just a warning to the other babies out there.

What does an audiobook narrator think is (one of) the most essential traits of an audiobook narrator? Fortunately, newsletter reader Mary Castillo narrates and produces her own paranormal mystery series. She says, “Even though I wrote the books, I realized how challenging it is to bring them to life as an audiobook. I agree that tone is the most important, but having been on the other side of the mic (I was a die-hard mystery audiobook fan before I did it myself), I think it is also the narrator’s belief in the story.” Mary says while that might like strange criteria, but if the narrator isn’t buying the story, they can’t expect the listener to, either.

That tracks with this article I found on a website called Voice Crafters. At the top of their list of great narrator qualities is “They [the narrator] Enjoys What They Are Doing,” saying:

“It should be obvious just from listening to them that they are enjoying telling the story. If a narrator cannot enjoy the story they are reading, then it will be difficult for the reader to enjoy it as well.

No one wants to listen to an unenthusiastic fight scene or a passionless kiss. Great narrators can hold the audience under a spell, taking them on an emotional journey through the highs and lows of the tale.

The characters and scenes should jump off the page (or out of the speakers). The narrator’s enthusiasm is a big part of what brings it to life.” Check out the rest of the article here.

I agree that palpable narrator enjoyment is super important and it made me think about how sometimes authors can be surprisingly terrible narrators for their own books. Some authors are AMAZING narrators, but not always. Getting a book published is SUCH a long process and by the time it happens, the author has revised and edited their text more times than they can count. I wonder if by the time they get around to narrating the audiobook, they’re thinking “if I never read about these characters again, it will be too soon.”

Alright, that’s it for me this week! Feel free to send me your thoughts on mental health and audiobooks or anything else audiobook-related (cute pictures of dogs also welcome).

Until next week,