Tuesday, November 8, 2022

My Favorite Audiobooks

Back before the pandemic I listened to a lot of audiobooks; I started on audiobooks when I had a data entry job in a big bureaucratic library and nothing to do with my brain while my fingers typed things all day.

Later I listened on my commutes; these days I have to carve out special walking time to listen, and that just doesn't happen that often. I exercise plenty; I'm just not a big long-walker.

Where did I get them? At the library data entry job, I downloaded them from the library or rented discs from the local independent bookstore.  When I started working at a bookstore I could borrow audios and then a company came up called Libro.fm that offers ALCs, or Advance Listening Copies, to booksellers, and I still have a huge queue of audiobooks downloaded from them. 

Libro.fm has audiobooks that can be played on any device and your purchases support your local independent bookstore. The library is also a great choice for audiobooks and if you are visually impared or have another condition that affects your ability to read print books, you may be able to avail yourself of books from the Perkins School for the Blind.  

I'm not someone who fangirls over specific narrators but I do make one exception, the rock star Peter Berkrot, who was my improv teacher way back when at Boston Casting. If you ever see an audiobook that he narrates, you should buy it because he is the best.

Elizabeth McCracken's wonderful novel Bowlaway was one of my favorite fictional audio experiences. It's narrated by Kate Reading and she does such a great job bringing this narrative to life. Bowlaway tells the story of a Boston-area community over time and its people, starting with a woman named Bertha who opens a bowling alley. 

The audio of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, narrated by the true-crime master Scott Brick, is one of the very few audiobooks I've listened to more than once. The book, a classic of the genre, is incredible and Brick tells this story with all the appropriate suspense and menace. He also narrated Eric Larson's The Devil in the White City and made it so creepy I had to stop listening and never finished the book.

Under the heading of author-read memoirs, there are two books that really stand out for me. One is the comic masterpiece Carsick, by John Waters. Oh-em-gee hilarious. Hil.Ar.Ious. 

Paul Auster's Winter Journal is so moving and enjoyable. I remember long walks around Cambridge listening to Auster tell his story. It's a case where the environmental experience I had colored and enriched my experience of the book.

Ben Macintyre's Double Cross is one of my all-time favorite World War 2 stories and the audio was just plain fun and fascinating and addictive. Double Cross is the story of the team of Allied spies who helped pull off the Normandy Invasion. The stories cover everything from society figures to double-agent pigeons to a guy in a house in England who created hundreds of fictional characters that passed as real people who played a range of roles in winning the war for the Allies. Amazing. It's narrated by the talented John Lee.

I want to go back to true crime with the magnetic I'll Be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle McNamara. I loved this book. It was so addictive and compulsively listenable, a book I would take a walk just to listen to. It's narrated by Gabra Zackman.

Finally I want to mention by #1 favorite audiobook author and narrator, David Sedaris. You can pick any of his books- it doesn't matter- he is always a delight. His most recent is Happy Go Lucky, a memoir. You just can't go wrong. My favorite is probably Holidays on Ice; I listen to "The SantaLand Diaries" every Christmas the way that some people watch Charlie Brown or the Grinch. It just doesn't get any better than that.

1 comment:

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I really want to read I'll be gone in the dark. I keep forgetting! So many books, so little time.