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Some excellent audio books

I know some people sneer at audio books because they're not really "reading," but I really enjoy them. I find the characters come more alive. My own acting abilities are really poor, and when I read a book, a lot of the characters talk in my head in a flat, calm voice, because that's my standard voice. So I love a good reader that can make the characters come alive. When the author is also an excellent writer, the combination is exquisite.

1. Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time, read by Derek Jacobi

2. Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison, read by Ian Carmichael (who also played Lord Peter Wimsey on PBS's Mystery series)

3. Any Rex Stout "Nero Wolfe" book read by Michael Prichard. I don't always like Michael Prichard's reading, but he has Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe down pat, and Stout's spare and perfectly chosen words come through superbly.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
epi_lj
Nov. 13th, 2003 12:58 pm (UTC)
Who sneers at audiobooks?
(Deleted comment)
firecat
Nov. 13th, 2003 01:12 pm (UTC)
Yah. I only read unabridged versions. Actually although only abridged versions make it into bookstores usually, there are unabridged versions of a great many books, mostly available as rentals or at libraries.
punkmom
Nov. 13th, 2003 01:09 pm (UTC)
I certainly don't sneer - and I'm a pretty good actor and reader. I explored reading for books on tape at one point, but you actually have to have an agent.
I really enjoy them, it's the same sort of pleasure that I get from reading aloud. It absolutely does make them come alive in a wonderful way that isn't the same kind of overload that comes with TV or movies where all your senses are stimulated - it still requires a great imagination to make work.
nolly
Nov. 13th, 2003 01:20 pm (UTC)
Audiobooks are great for solo roadtrips and for solo housework.
janetmiles
Nov. 13th, 2003 01:30 pm (UTC)
I don't sneer at them, but I generally don't like them *for me*, because I read faster than most actors speak, and because the actors rarely match the way I think the characters should sound.

However, given your recommendation, I'll try a Nero Wolfe book if I can find one.
firecat
Nov. 14th, 2003 09:16 am (UTC)
I read faster than most actors speak too, but I find that listening to a fiction book at speaking speed helps me appreciate more of it (if the writing is good). I have a bad habit of reading faster than I can savor, even books is written in language that deserves savoring.

I absolutely can't listen to audio books with clunky writing though, whereas I can sometimes get amusement value out of reading them quickly.
zpdiduda
Nov. 13th, 2003 01:42 pm (UTC)
I love audiobooks. Particularly those that are read by their authors, when the authors are interesting in themselves. I just listened to (and loved) The Antelope Wife, read by author Louise Erdrich. And reading can't compare to listening when it comes to certain autobiographies-- that of Grace Slick (a hoot and a half), or The Kid Stays In The Picture, read by Robert Evans.
firecat
Nov. 14th, 2003 09:18 am (UTC)
Neil Gaiman reads his own Coraline. It's a children's story, but definitely worth an adult read if you at all like children's stories.
pir_anha
Nov. 13th, 2003 02:04 pm (UTC)
audio books
oh, i hadn't heard that people sneer at them because they're not really "reading". of course they're not really reading, *duh*. they're listening, and nothing's wrong with listening to something entertaining or informational or even just sounding great (i'd listen to james earl jones if he read a phone book).

generally i don't think audiobooks are for me because i don't really like being read to (it interferes with some of the cool stuff that happens in my mind when reading), but one of these days i'll try one of your suggestions because i might get something similar to listening to a play out of it.
adrian_turtle
Nov. 13th, 2003 08:55 pm (UTC)
I haven't listened to audiobooks much. I like flat, calm, voices...the "performance" voice of an actor trying to make an audiobook come alive is likely to strike me as affected and distracting. I need a very light touch. And, as Janet says, speed. I don't want abridged books, but drawling, pauses, even a southern accent is going to have me tapping my fingers impatiently. (I'm a Bostonian by choice. And not a fan of Robert J. Lurtsema.)

I really appreciate your recommendations. I'm about to start listening to audiobooks fairly seriously, as darkness has cut into the time I used to read while commuting, and it's driving me nuts. The library seemed to have a significant collection of audiobooks, though I don't know if the ones you suggest are there. (It will probably take me several winters to get through everything worth reading in this collection, even if neither the collection nor my definition of "worth reading" expands. And that's not even counting requests from other libraries in the network.) As soon as I buy a portable tape player and some rechargable batteries, I can get started.
tedesson
Nov. 14th, 2003 06:13 am (UTC)
audiobooks
I love audiobooks for long car trips.

The last one I bought, which I recommend highly, is Pema Chodron's _The Places that Scare You_. It's based on her lectures on tonglen meditation, which is about focusing your attention on the soft tender part of your consciousness, the little crack in the hard protective shell we build up. And using our awarness of that basic tenderness to develop compassion for other people and all beings.

When I did a long road trip a little over a year ago, I picked up an unabridged version of _Swann's Way_. I love Proust, and I don't seem to have as much time to read fiction as I'd like these days, so it was quite the treat to be able to listen to it.

We did the BBC radio play version of _The Lord of the Rings_ a few years ago. The one where Ian Holm plays Frodo. That was marvelous. It was recorded with terrific actors and music, and was a faithful and sensitive treatment of the book.

The CBC offers a lot of their literature programs on cassette, as well as their radio show _Ideas_ which is a learned, literate investigation of just about anything in the humanities and social sciences.

I've been finding a few more mp3s of people reading their work on the net these days. Salon gives a few away to their subscribers. I'm still pissed at Audible.com that they don't make any of their items available to Linux users. Even though a lot of their stuff is available in mp3 format, one needs a windows download client.
firecat
Nov. 14th, 2003 09:20 am (UTC)
Re: audiobooks
I loved the BBC LOTR.

I just tried to request the Chodron from the local library and it wouldn't let me place a hold on it. (Grump)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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