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Audiobooks

Audiobooks!: August 11, 2016

Truly Madly GuiltyThis week’s Audiobooks! newsletter is sponsored by Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty.

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? In Truly Madly Guilty, #1 New York Times bestselling author Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm. This can’t miss audiobook is read by Caroline Lee.

Behold the DreamersHi, audiobook lovers! By the time you read this, I’ll be in the middle of a 5-day staycation: knitting gloves for the cooler temps ahead, drinking a cold beer, and listening to the rest of Imbolo Mbue’s fantastic debut Behold the Dreamers. (I’ve promised myself I’m not going to spend the entire time taking over gyms from the 13-year-old bike gangs in my neighborhood.)

My brain is already in pre-vacation mode, so I’m totally content to let Book Rioters Jamie and Kay do the heavy lifting this time! They’ve been hitting it out of the park with some solid audiobook recs, and I have a feeling you’re about to add a few new titles to your listening queue.

10 of the Best Audiobooks of 2016 So Far

The DevourersI’m guessing you can completely relate to these feels of Book Riot contributor Jamie Canaves: “Where once I used to hope that a book would someday be available as an audiobook now I find myself having the conundrum of deciding whether I want to read recent releases with my ears or eyeballs (or both!).”

Jamie rounded up ten of Book Riot’s favorite audiobooks of 2016 (so far), including: a paranormal thriller read by a Star Trek alum, a time travel adventure with pirate ships, a story about kickass lady assassins with mechanical arms, a science memoir, and a short story collection with reality show contestants, a ridiculous neighbor war, and a bra size fitter (!). Read on to see what we’re loving so far this year.

Listen to Amy Schumer read an excerpt from The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo

Girl With the Lower Back TattooAmy Schumer’s memoir The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo is coming out on August 16, and I. Can’t. Wait. (Earlier this summer, I refreshed my library’s website every day until it finally showed up in the catalog and I got the #1 spot on the holds list. I guess you could say I’m dedicated.) I am so ready for Amy to dish out all the smart satire, feminism, and butt jokes. If you, like me, can’t wait until next week, you can go here to find an excerpt of her reading the chapter, “My Only One-Night Stand.”

10 Great Science Fiction and Fantasy Audiobooks

LagoonWant to add more science fiction and fantasy to your reading list? (Yes, the answer is yes.) Kay Taylor Rea is a Book Riot contributor, a Slytherin, and a self-described SFF nerd. She also recommends ten great audiobooks with just about everything there is to love about SFF, including: time travel, aliens, a modern faerie tale, steampunk set in India, a Jane Austen-style Regency drama but with magic, and an epic fantasy masterpiece set in a post-post-post-apocalyptic world. Enjoy!

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Audiobooks

Audiobooks!: July 28, 2016

AllIsNotForgottenThis week’s Audiobooks! newsletter is sponsored by All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker.

Wendy Walker’s blockbuster new audiobook All is Not Forgotten begins in the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut, where everything seems picture perfect. Until one night when a young woman is attacked at a local party. The attack reveals fault lines within the close-knit community, and the quest to find the monster who invaded their town—or perhaps lives among them—drives this psychological thriller to a shocking conclusion. Dylan Baker—whose acting credits include appearances in the Spider-Man film series, The Good Wife, and The Americans—performs this gripping tale of one town’s search for the truth.

Hello again, audiobook fans! Lately I’ve been really into dark and twisty crime novels and lighthearted romantic comedies — I guess the common denominator is entertainment. I hope you’re being entertained by some great listens this summer, too. And if you’re stuck on what to listen to next, maybe you’ll get some ideas from today’s newsletter <3

We Need Diverse Voices

HomegoingAs the need for diverse books grows ever more apparent, I often find myself thinking about diverse voices on audiobooks, too. I’m actively working to be inclusive with my reading choices, and this includes my listening choices. And I’ve come to love the immersive experience of hearing the vast range of inflections, cadences, and accents of all the characters who are represented in inclusive audiobooks.

Mary Burkey from Booklist Online recently talked about this to several people behind the scenes, and I was fascinated to learn that many studios employ a full-time research staff and linguist to get the details right. Sometimes they also work with the author to find and cast the perfect person to tell the story, and music and soundscapes are a big piece of the puzzle, too. Check out Mary’s piece at Booklist for the full scoop as well as oodles of suggested listens.

I’ll Listen to Mr. Darcy All Day Long

When I started listening to a lot of audiobooks, one of the weird things that happened is that I started a mental To-Be-Read list of not just authors that I wanted to check out, but narrators too. I started picking up on names that have been recommended by my audio buddies, shown up in reviews, and won awards. This week I finally got to cross narrator Katherine Kellgren off my audio TBR, and she was just as stellar as I’d hoped she would be!

Katherine Kellgren reads Austenland by Shannon Hale, in which a wealthy matriarch bequeaths a Mr. Darcy-obsessed woman with an all-expenses-paid trip to a Pride and Prejudice themed retreat where guests and actors spend a month in period costume as Regency era characters. (With bonus smooching for guests on the platinum package.) The story itself is frothy, funny, and smart, but it was Kellgren’s performance that really made it for me. She’s a super versatile voice actress, and her entire cast of characters was hilarious — the dour Regency hostess, the hot Irish gardener, the rich American trophy wife whose fake accent is more Alabama than England, the standoffish but frustratingly handsome (because of course) nephew, etc. etc. Kellgren’s performance of Austenland is entertaining, sweet, and perfect for the upcoming dog days of summer.

10 Audiobooks for the Rest of Your Life

BadFeministBook Riot’s Head Honcho (aka Editor-in-Chief) Jeff O’Neal suggests 10 great listens not only for recent graduates, but for the rest of us, too. “Whatever comes next is the beginning of what will be the bulk of their lives,” he writes. “In short, there is a lot of living left to do.

“Some cover things school probably should have covered, some are reminders of things they probably learned, and some are things that might actively contradict what most of them were taught.” Read on for Jeff’s picks to prepare you for whatever comes next.

The Frank O’Hara Poems That Inspired Mad Men

Lunch_Poems_FINALI’m in Mad Men withdrawal, and I can’t believe the final episode aired a little over a year ago. Somehow it feels like it was both longer and shorter ago. I just got a little pick-me-up, though, because Mad Men’s creator, Matthew Weiner, just recorded a brand new audiobook of Frank O’Hara’s lovely Lunch Poems! Weiner credits Lunch Poems as a major influence on his creative vision for Mad Men — bask in his performance of the poem “Lana Turner” here.

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Audiobooks

Audiobooks!: July 14, 2016

AllIsNotForgottenThis week’s Audiobooks! newsletter is sponsored by All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker.

Wendy Walker’s blockbuster new audiobook All is Not Forgotten begins in the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut, where everything seems picture perfect. Until one night when a young woman is attacked at a local party. The attack reveals fault lines within the close-knit community, and the quest to find the monster who invaded their town—or perhaps lives among them—drives this psychological thriller to a shocking conclusion. Dylan Baker—whose acting credits include appearances in the Spider-Man film series, The Good Wife, and The Americans—performs this gripping tale of one town’s search for the truth.

HotLittleHandsHey there, fellow audiobook lovers! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been sailing through books this week while I roam my neighborhood catching Pokémon. I’ve been listening to the fabulous short story collection Hot Little Hands by Australian writer Abigail Ulman, about teenage girls and young women who grapple with sex, love, punk bands, gymnastics, and horse camp (right?!). But I bet some quick and action-packed listens by Dan Brown, Ernest Cline, Maggie Stiefvater, or Daniel José Older would also make for perfect Pokémon-catching material! Whatever you’re into right now, I hope you’ve got some great listens to keep you company.

10 Audiobook Narrators We Can’t Get Enough Of

EmberInTheAshesBook Riot contributor Cassandra Neace asks: “Do you have a narrator that has made such an impression on you that you would listen to them read the phone book? What is it about their voice that makes you want to listen to everything they’ve ever recorded?” Cassandra surveyed our fellow Book Riot contributors, and our list of favorites includes professional voice actors, British actors with diehard fandoms, and surprising celebrities. Read on to find out which 10 audiobook narrators we can’t get enough of!

The Book Lin-Manuel Miranda Narrated Before He Became Bonkers Famous

AristotleAndDanteAudioI just finished listening to the most beautiful book that I’ve been dying to tell you guys about. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz came out on audio in 2013, and while it was a big YA award winner, it just started showing up on my radar this year. Which makes sense, because YOU GUYS it is narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda! (You know — that guy who wrote a bananas popular musical about the Schuyler sisters and some other people.)

Ari is a Mexican American teenager who likes to keep to himself. Until he meets Dante, a bubbly teen who’s new in town and volunteers to give Ari swimming lessons. Dante’s infectious charm wins over a sullen Ari, but after one of them is injured, their friendship grows deeper and more complicated.

Aristotle and Dante is the kind of book that wraps you all over in tingly goosebumps and makes makes the hair on your arms stand up straight. It’s about kissing, boys who like boys, and two Latino teenagers who are learning to be OK with their feelings and desires. It’s also about parents, PTSD, and family secrets. And it’s about figuring out how to open up to the people who matter to you most.

As narrator, Lin-Manuel Miranda finds the perfect balance between lighthearted teenage humor and existential angst, and his kissing scenes are 100. It was also really nice to hear a Latino narrator on a story about two Mexican American teens. And for more from the author, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, he recently wrote a moving piece for Book Riot about creating sanctuaries for LGBTQI+ teens through fiction.

Gilmore Girls Actress Teams Up With Where’d You Go, Bernadette Author
todaywillbedifferentOne of my very favorite audiobooks ever of all time is Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, read by Kathleen Wilhoite (you might know her as Luke’s sister, Liz, on Gilmore Girls). About an architect mother, a father who builds robots, their precocious daughter, Bee, and a mysterious disappearance to Antarctica, Where’d You Go, Bernadette lands squarely in that sweet spot where satire meets warm heartedness — and Wilhoite captures that essence gorgeously.

Maria Semple’s newest book, Today Will Be Different, is coming out this October, and Hachette Audio has confirmed that Kathleen Wilhoite is lined up for an encore performance. EXCUSE ME while I flail my muppet arms; I hope I don’t accidentally hit you in the face!! My birthday is also in October, and I can’t think of a better bookish birthday present to myself <3

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Audiobooks

Audiobooks!: June 30, 2016

Picture1This week’s Audiobooks! newsletter is sponsored by TryAudiobooks.com

Have you ever taken a road trip with your family that seemed to go on forever? We all have! Audiobooks can solve that problem by providing entertainment for the whole family.  Visit TryAudiobooks.com/family-travel for a free full download and start listening with the whole family on your next car ride.

Hello again, audiobook-loving friends. You know how we were commiserating about how hard it is to find audiobooks that everyone in the family can listen to together? I remember it just like it was a few weeks ago. (Oh wait, it was!)

100 Family-Friendly Audiobooks, You’re Welcome

SabrielLibrarian and Book Riot contributor Molly Wetta has come to the rescue with 100 family-friendly audiobooks that are fun for kids, but are also engaging enough for adults. Many have voices you’ll recognize – like Kate Winslet (Matilda!), Tim Curry (Sabriel and A Series of Unfortunate Events!), and Stephen Fry (a bunch!). Whether you’re in the car with five-year-olds or teenagers, Molly promises something for everyone that will make your trip fly by.

Lindy West’s Shrill is Kind of the Most Fantastic Thing Ever

shrillIf you are a person who appreciates unapologetic feminism, body positivity, and a well-placed poop joke, Lindy West’s Shrill might wind up being the best book of essays you have ever listened to in your life. Sandwiched between HILARIOUS jokes about reading high fantasy by Robert Jordan on the bus, and the situation with deeply disturbing high school choir outfits, Lindy has gifted us a “fat feminist abortion manifesto” (her words), because “people don’t expect to hear from women like that. And I want other women to see me do that and I want women’s voices to get louder.”

I love Lindy West’s amazing comedic timing in her writing for The Stranger, Jezebel, and The Guardian, and listening to her deliver her jokes on audio was kind of the most fantastic thing ever. She confesses that she never wanted to be the poster child for fighting virtual trolls and calling out rape jokes, yet she does it every day for everyone who wants women’s voices to get louder. She’s doing it for me, and she’s doing it for you. Thank you, Lindy West <3

A Brief History of the Audiobook, With Mustache Jokes

Tom-SelleckFrom a 1940s New York Public Library project that recorded textbooks for blind soldiers, to a record company that produced talking books by Dylan Thomas, Eudora Welty, T.S. Eliot, and William Faulkner in the 1950s, Book Riot contributor Aram Mrjoian has turned up some fascinating tidbits about the history of audiobooks (complete with jokes about Tom Selleck’s mustache, because Book Riot).

Maggie Gyllenhaal Reads Anna Karenina and I Can’t Even

annakareninaWhen mermaid unicorn goddess Maggie Gyllenhaal recorded Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar earlier this year, I freaked out a little. How does it get more perfect than that, right?? Here’s how: Gyllenhaal just recorded a brand new edition of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and now I don’t even know what to do with myself. Hold me.

I just watched BBC’s gorgeous new War & Peace mini-series (Gillian Anderson as Anna Pavlovna!), and this recording of Anna Karenina is the best possible follow-up. That smoky voice, reading those famous opening lines… It’s up for pre-order now, and will be officially out from Audible on July 12. Confetti canon!

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Audiobooks

Audiobooks!: June 16, 2016

Picture1This week’s Audiobooks! newsletter is sponsored by TryAudiobooks.com

Have you ever taken a road trip with your family that seemed to go on forever? We all have! Audiobooks can solve that problem by providing entertainment for the whole family.  Visit TryAudiobooks.com/family-travel for a free full download and start listening with the whole family on your next car ride.

Hey there readers,

It’s June, school’s out, and we’ve entered PRIME audiobook season: ‘tis the season of summer road trips! We did a lot of these when I was growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s. My family of 7 would squeeze into a Dodge Caravan with a canoe on top and a pop up camper in the back and drive across the country to live in the woods and watch bears eat out of dumpsters. (I have kind of a weird family.) It was also the only time we got to eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

classicradiomysteriesWe’d drive straight through for 24 hours or more, and my mom always took the night shift, listening to CDs of old timey radio mysteries from Barnes and Noble. I had yet to discover audiobooks, but I listened to the audio of Disney movies that I had checked out from the public library and dubbed onto cassette tapes while I tried to sleep on top of duffel bags in the trunk. (To this day I can recall entire chunks of dialogue from Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast.)

Flash forward to 2016, and we have so many more listening options. Whatever your vacations family look like, here’s hoping you find some great listens this summer. <3

inthecountryweloveaudioIn the Country We Love: My Family Divided
When she was just 14, Diane Guerrero’s parents (Orange Is the New Black, Jane the Virgin) were arrested and exported to Colombia and she was left on her own in the U.S. Yikes! The biggest surprise for me in Guerrero’s new memoir was how much of her story I could relate to — the ordeals of her family breaking up when she was 14 years old, hopping around between schools, being drawn to the arts, and wrestling with ADHD and depression all resonated deeply with me. It was a powerful reminder that commonalities exist in unexpected places, even between a brown working-class girl who grew up Catholic in Boston and a white middle-class girl who grew up Mormon in Iowa.

Guerrero tells her story with directness, honesty, and personality, and In the Country We Love reminded me of books like Leah Remini’s Scientology memoir, Troublemaker, that aren’t wrapped up in layers of mysterious metaphors, but are so remarkable and told with such candor that they don’t really need to exist any other way. This was exceptionally moving on audio — Guerrero has an authentic and playful voice that bubbles through in her performance, which made for a very lovely listen.

TheBFGaudioRoald Dahl Audiobooks for Everyone in the Family
One of my pals at Book Riot has been totally stumped about what to listen to on a family road trip with her two preschoolers and husband. They’ve already listened to (and loved, obviously) Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux, which is not an easy act to follow. We all bounced around some ideas — Ramona? Stuart Little? — and then the idea of Roald Dahl came up! With The BFG coming out in movie theaters on July 1, now is the perfect time to brush up on the books, and we’re happy to report that we think they hold up pretty well.

I’m personally a huge fan of the Roald Dahl audiobook collection that came out a few summers ago with fancy actors like Kate Winslet, Stephen Fry, and Chris O’Dowd performing Matilda, The BFG, and all the rest. You can preview some of my favorite clips here!

Stephen King on His Love for Audiobooks

June is Audiobook Month, and we’ve been celebrating by watching Stephen King gush adorably about why he hearts audiobooks: “The more you listen to audiobooks,” he says, “You start again to experience the words as sounds, which is something that you don’t always do when you’re reading to yourself.”

Watch to find out Stephen King’s favorite audiobook of all time, how many audiobooks he listens to per year, why he thinks audiobooks are more suspenseful than print, and how a great narrator is like listening to your favorite music in surround sound. Happy Audiobook Month!

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Audiobooks

Audiobooks!: June 2, 2016

Picture1This week’s Audiobooks! newsletter is sponsored by TryAudiobooks.comHave you ever taken a road trip with your family that seemed to go on forever? We all have! Audiobooks can solve that problem by providing entertainment for the whole family.  Visit TryAudiobooks.com/family-travel for a free full download and start listening with the whole family on your next car ride.

Summer of Free Audiobooks

Hang onto your sun hats, because I love this and so will you! Now in its third year, SYNC is a summer program that gives away free topnotch audiobooks to teens. Each week, SYNC makes 2 titles available for download, with a total of 30 free audiobooks from May 5th – August 17th, 2016.

BookOfUnknownAmericansThis year’s free audiobooks include Book Riot favorites like Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Kate Coyle, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, and Zac and Mia by A J. Betts. Hop on over to http://www.audiobooksync.com/ to get your free audiobooks!

Why We Love Jazz Jennings’s New Audiobook

BeingJazzThe amazing Jazz Jennings just debuted her memoir about her life as a transgender teen, and she’s also been named the new author ambassador for Read Proud Listen Proud, a fantastic site for kids and teens to find LGBTQ print and audiobooks and learn about awareness, acceptance, and celebrating people for who they are.

Rioter Jamie Canaves writes: “I can see why they chose her as ambassador: as the narrator of her audiobook her infectious personality, amazing outlook, brilliant mind, and all around awesomeness shone through.” Read on for more about why Jamie loves Read Proud Listen Proud and the audiobook Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen.

Audiobook Titles Have Quintupled Since 2011 (YEP, Quintupled)

APA Logo Black-ColorResults are in from the Audio Publishers Association’s annual survey! Last year’s audiobook sales totaled over $1.77 billion, which means audiobook sales grew more than 20% for two years in a row. But my favorite statistic is that the number of audiobook titles published last year has QUINTUPLED since 2011. Over 35,000 audiobook titles were published in 2015, compared to about 25,000 in 2014, and just 7,000 in 2011. From 7 to 35 thousand in just five years, you guys.

Public awareness and smart phones are apparently driving the increase — I know I’ve personally noticed more (and better!) audiobooks on the market in just the past few years, and this is a trend I am loving.

Audiobooks and Literacy Are Like Peas and Carrots, Proves Research

kidsaudioRaise your hand if you’re over the pearl-clutching about whether people who listen to audiobooks can actually comprehend and retain information. Now pat yourself on the back because new research released in April validates that listening to audiobooks is very beneficial for reading comprehension, vocabulary, and reading motivation.

The researchers studied second and third grade students in a San Francisco after-school program who listened to five 20-minute sessions of streaming audio each week, three of which were at school and two at home. These students made over half a year’s reading gains in just 10 weeks, putting them three months ahead of control students.  The study group also performed three times better than the control group in reading comprehension, seven times better in second-grade vocabulary, and nearly four times better in reading motivation.

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Audiobooks

Audiobooks!: May 19, 2016

Hello!

Welcome, fellow audiobook fans, to Book Riot’s newsletter about all things audiobookish! I’m associate editor Rachel Smalter Hall, and I’ve been writing about my love of audiobooks at Book Riot for a few years now — from 8 myths about audiobooks to my audiobook conversion story and everything in between.

We’re gonna keep it loose here — this is the kind of newsletter you can read while snacking on M&Ms without pants on. We’ll be talking about audiobook recommendations, new releases, industry news, and anything else you might like if you’re someone who likes audiobooks.

And the Audie Goes To:

The Girl on the TrainTheGirlOnTheTrain by Paula Hawkins won Audiobook of the Year at the Audie Awards Gala in Chicago on May 11. I’m also happy to see Jenny Lawson win an Audie for Furiously Happy in the Humor category, and Kate Mulgrew for Born With Teeth in the Narration by Author category. They’re both so great and you should check them out!

WakeUpHappyI’m NOT happy that over 90% of this year’s Audie Award honorees are white. Of 30 winning titles, just two were authored by people of color (Wake Up Happy by Michael Strahan and Veronica Chambers, who are African American, and Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, who is half Mexican). A third title was co-authored by a person of color (Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez, who is Chilean.) These dismal percentages also hold for the narrators of the winning titles.

This is especially disappointing considering 2015 is the year that brought us Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling, The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, and so many more. Here’s to more inclusivity from the Audie Awards next time… like, a lot more.

3 Nora Ephron Books to Put in Your Ears ASAP:

HeartburnI’m feeling Nora Ephron fever! Everyone’s been talking about Nora Ephron this spring since HBO premiered Everything is Copy, the documentary by her son. It seemed like a perfect time to dig out my copy of Heartburn that Meryl Streep performed on audio in 2013.

Heartburn is the scathing, side-splitting roman à clef that Ephron wrote after she caught her husband cheating on her when she was 7 months pregnant (!), and it’s the novel that propelled her to Hollywood. Meryl Streep stars opposite Jack Nicholson in the 1986 movie version, and her encore performance on audio three decades later is PERFECTION. It’s an effortless listen that oozes with wit, character, and venom as Ephron rewrites the narrative of one of the most traumatic things that ever happened to her. And it’s legitimately the best audiobook I’ve ever listened to.

While it’s 100% possible that Heartburn will ruin all other audiobooks for you, Book Riot contributors also highly recommend I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing. Both are performed by Ephron and will ease your transition back to audiobooks NOT performed by Meryl Streep.

Listen to Kate Mulgrew read Joe Hill:

TheFiremanI loved Kate Mulgrew’s recording of her memoir Born With Teeth last year, and I’m just really excited to see that she’s made the leap to narrating fiction on audio! She appeared on last year’s recording of Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez, and now performs solo on The Fireman. (Mulgrew follows in the footsteps of Patti Smith, who’s been narrating Jo Nesbø novels since the success of her excellent memoir Just Kids.) Here’s Kate Mulgrew reading an excerpt from The Fireman.

5 Great Audiobooks Read by the Authors:

BeowulfBook Riot guest contributor Zoe Dickinson likes audiobooks narrated by their own authors because she finds something appealing about getting closer to an author’s original intentions. “I love the idea of being able to listen to books exactly the way their authors imagined them. Every pause, every rise and fall of cadence, reflects the author’s own interpretation of their work.” Here are a few of her favorites to get started with.