Audiobooks

  • audio myths

     

    Why do audiobooks get such a bad rap? Below I discuss the top 10 most commonly held myths about audiobooks.

    Myth 1: Listening to an audiobook is not the same thing as reading…it’s sort of like cheating.

    Some people may consider the process of reading a book cover to cover a point of pride. Listening to an audiobook doesn’t require the same amount of effort so it’s almost like getting the reward without putting in the work.

    Daniel Willingham, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia explains that when examining the mental process, for the most part, there is no real difference between listening and reading. He goes on to describe that when we read, our mind is doing two things; decoding words from their letters and processing language which is used both in reading and listening to comprehend the narrative. Willingham states that by about fifth grade, we’ve mastered the ability to decode words, so the difference between reading and listening becomes negligible.

    If the act of decoding were the reason why we read, listening to audiobooks might be cheating, but reading is about appreciating the journey and the destination, not the “work” it takes to get there.

    To learn more about this, I suggest reading one of these articles about Willingham’s research.

    NY Magazine: As Far as Your Brain is Concerned, Audiobooks are Not ‘Cheating’ 

    Washington Post: Is Listening to a Book ‘Cheating?’

    Daniel Willingham Blog: Is Listening to an Audio Book "Cheating?"

    Myth 2: Audiobooks are only for people who don’t really like to read.

    Slow readers, reluctant readers, or people learning English. These are the types of people who should be listening to audiobooks, right? Yes, they are, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Audiobooks don’t need to replace reading print books. They are there to augment them.

    If you’re like me, your to-be-read (TBR) pile is a mile high. It seems like every day there is a new “must read” title released. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the books to be read. Adding audiobooks in with regular reading is a great way to stay on top of that TBR list.

    Myth 3: Reading a book is more convenient.

    Maybe this was true in the past, but with technology has come convenience. It’s so easy to download an audiobook or pop a CD into your car’s audio system. Taking the plunge will be easier than you might think.

    Myth 4: Reading is about consuming the book the way the author intended.

    This is probably the most debatable myth on this list. Consuming a book through a mediator (the narrator) always runs a risk. A story could be ruined by a bad narrator who just doesn’t get the author’s meaning. However, I question how frequently this actually happens.

    In an NPR article with George Guidall (one of the greatest narrators of all time) he describes his relationship with author Wally Lamb who is one of Guidall’s biggest fans. The two have developed a close working relationship. Lamb was quoted as saying, “When I listen to George translate or interpret my work, it's just accurate. It's how I think of the characters speaking."

    Listening to a truly good narrator read a book brings the story to life. For me, narrator Simon Vance IS Captain Will Laurence in the novel HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON by Naomi Novik. When I think of this character I hear Simon Vance’s voice. In fact, I get a big smile on my face every time I begin a new audiobook in the series.

    Myth 5: Audiobooks are less intimate than print.

    Sure there are definitely times when more quiet reflective reading is called for, but that doesn’t mean listening can’t be intimate as well. For example, it is becoming quite common for celebrities to narrate their own memoirs. It’s like experiencing a private performance just for you.

    Myth 6: Audiobooks are too slow.

    Again with the technology! Yes, there was a time when (especially for fast readers), listening felt too slow, but now most listening devices allow you to choose the narration speed. Listening at 1.5x speed takes a second to get used to, but then I hardly notice after that.

    Myth 7: It’s too easy to get distracted and miss something.

    Getting distracted or letting your mind wander can happen both while reading and listening. I already mentioned the research by psychologist Daniel Willingham, where you’ll find this concern is addressed more scientifically. I’d just like to say there is such a thing as a rewind button on CD players and a jump back 15 seconds option on most mobile devices. In addition, I’ve been listening to audiobooks while driving, exercising, and doing chores for years. If I get distracted, I rarely feel like I’ve missed enough to have lost track of the story completely.

    Myth 8: Audiobook narrators have super annoying voices.

    Maybe you had a bad experience once where listening to the audiobook ruined the whole story for you. I’m here to tell you that the production value of audiobooks has increased exponentially in recent years. These days professional voice actors, celebrity actors, and comedians create excellent narrations that bring stories to life. Jim Dale, anyone?

    Yes, there are still those stinkers out there, but those are becoming few and far between.

    Myth 9: There’s not a very good selection of books in audiobook format.

    If you haven’t been paying attention, you may not know that audiobooks are the fastest growing segment of the publishing world. With this growth in popularity and sales, more and more books are being produced as audiobooks.

    Did you know with a Provo City Library card, you have access to almost 28,000 audiobooks?

    • Nearly 10,000 books on CD
    • Over 7,000 downloadable audiobooks from OneClickdigital 
    • Over 11,000 downloadable audiobooks from OverDrive  

    Myth 10: Audiobook abridgements and waiting for the release of the audiobook are the worst!

    In years past it was far more common to find abridged versions of audiobooks (especially with nonfiction titles). Another past concern was being forced to wait six months between the release of the book and audiobook. I’m happy to report that these problems are nearly entirely in the past. Abridgements have almost completely disappeared and most audiobooks are now being released simultaneously with the book.

    So are you ready to start listening to an audiobook?

    Here are some great places to listen:

    • The commute
    • While exercising
    • Getting ready in the morning
    • Doing dishes
    • Yard work
    • Folding clothes
    • Crafts or scrapbooking
    • Putting together a puzzle or other simple games
    • Driving on a road trip

    In addition to making long or boring tasks go faster, audiobooks are also great for:

    • Sharing the experience with others
    • Bringing stories to life
    • Making comprehension easier
    • Helping with difficult to pronounce or foreign words
    • Appreciating the cadence and rhythm of a book
    • Bringing a new perspective

    So pick up or download an audiobook today and make your life just a little more enjoyable!

  • audiobook pet peeves

     

    I’m sad to admit it, but not all audiobooks are created equal.  Just as there are a few authors who are so good that I’ll read anything they write, there are a few good narrators who I’ll listen to, even if the description of the book is not appealing to me.  I asked my co-workers for proof of my theory, and boy did they deliver.  A lot of what they told me can be summarized into a few general audiobook truths:

    1. It takes talent to convey multiple ages and genders.  Ask any of the library staff to give you their impression of a horrible audiobook narrator trying to read in a voice of someone in the opposite gender.  I dare you not to laugh.  The truth is, not all male narrators can pitch their voices correctly to read a female part.  One co-worker complained that bad female narrators make all men sound like surfer dudes.  Adults trying to read in a child’s voice isn’t always successful either.
    2. Use the right accent.  Unfortunately, I’ve run into some bad examples of this lately.  I immediately stopped listening to an audiobook when the president of the United States spoke in a British accent, and his butler sounded like he was from the Caribbean.  I listened to another book where one character kept switching between French and Italian accents.
    3. Be consistent in the voices you use.  Related to my complaint above, if the narrator is going to give a different voice to every character in the novel, those voices should be consistent throughout the book.  I don’t mean just in terms of accent, but also in tone and in speech pattern use as well.
    4. Authors do not always make great narrators.  While there are exceptions to this rule (Hi, Neil Gaiman!  I love you!), authors generally read in a monotone that makes me less than excited to keep listening.
    5. Watch Your Pronunciation.  Just as J.K. Rowling cleverly inserted directions on how to say Hermione Granger’s name in HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (am I the only one who called her Her-me-own until I read that part?), a good narrator checks beforehand on the pronunciation of names and places.  It’s Nev-aa-duh, not Nev-ah-da!
    6. Other comments/pet peeves. The above comments were by far the most popular opinions given by everyone I talked to.  Here are a few others that were mentioned by our staff:
      • Narrators who read in a monotone voice are boring.
      • As vague as it sounds, sometimes the reader is just not the right one for the book.
      • I think a good audiobook narrator should be able to be played at 1.25x without sounding like a chipmunk.
      • I hate heavy breathing (breathiness when it isn’t really supposed to be there or too much if it is supposed to be there).
      • When you can tell when a narrator took a break (as in the audio recording just doesn’t seem seamless…it suddenly goes from just right to too soft/loud or vice versa or when the pacing of the reading is off tends to jar me just a little bit)
      • When the sound effects/singing are awful!
      • Once when listening to an audio book there was a whole track that was repeated. It wasn’t supposed to be…but somehow the track was in there twice so I heard one chapter two times. It took me a minute to figure out why part of it seemed familiar…and then I was pretty frustrated that I had spent time listening to what I had already listened to.
      • I just listened to an audiobook where a few chapters sounded like the reader had a cold.  It drove me bonkers.

    So that’s our list.  Don’t worry, my co-workers gave me some great recommendations as well, and we’ll cover those soon.  In the meantime, did we miss any of your pet peeves?

  • audiobook rockstars 01

     

    A little bit ago we discussed our audiobook pet peeves.  It’s sometimes easy to say what we don’t like about things, but it’s harder to explain what makes something good.  Here’s my stab at what makes a good audiobook narrator:  A good narrator brings the words of a page to life with appropriate voice inflection, tone, and volume.  In doing so, they capture the spirit of the book (or the main character).  A narrator should be able to give distinct voices to characters based on the book descriptions. The listener should immediately be able to tell who's talking based on the voice the narrator uses. 

    Sounds like we’re demanding a lot!  (And we are)  But here are a few good audiobook narrators that my co-workers and I enjoy, in no particular order.

    JIM DALE

    One co-worker called Jim Dale the rockstar of all audiobook narrators, and if you’ve listened to the HARRY POTTER series, you likely agree.  But Jim Dale has narrated a lot more than HARRY POTTER, and his other books are worth listening to as well.

    Known for reading: 

    HARRY POTTER

    THE NIGHT CIRCUS

    PETER PAN

     

    WIL WHEATON  

    Wil Wheaton may be known for his roles in STAR TREK and THE BIG BANG THEORY, but he’s a great audiobook narrator as well.  Aside from Jim Dale, Wil Wheaton’s the one my co-workers recommended the most.  I had a few co-workers tell me that they enjoyed his reading of READY PLAYER ONE and ARMADA so much that they’ve picked up other audiobooks just because he’s the narrator.

    Known for reading: 

    READY PLAYER ONE

    ARMADA

    WHAT IF?: SERIOUS SCIENTIFIC ANSWERS TO ABSURD HYPOTHETICAL QUESTIONS

     

    R.C. BRAY

    The narrator for THE MARTIAN has an almost gritty, no-nonsense kind of voice.  But when you pair it with the kind of dead pan humor of the book, it perfectly captures the spirit of the book - it could easily freak you out if he weren't so upbeat all the time.

    Known for reading: 

    THE MARTIAN

    LIFE ON PURPOSE: HOW LIVING FOR WHAT MATTERS MOST CHANGES EVERYTHING

     

    JAYNE ENTWISTLE

    Jayne Entwistle is known for her excellent reading of Alan C. Bradley’s THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE mystery series.  It takes skill to narrate books with an eleven-year-old protagonist, but Jayne Entwistle does it with style.  One co-worker describes her this way: “She sounds a lot like Emily Blunt and I kind of love that.”

    Known for reading: 

    THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE

    THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE

     

    NEIL GAIMAN  

    This is one example of an author who can also competently narrate.  You might say I’m biased, because Neil Gaiman read the first audiobook I ever listened to, and he’s an advocate for libraries, but no, I’m not biased.  He’s amazing.  Despite what I said in the previous blog post, other authors can narrate as well.  Examples include Gretchen Rubin, Brene Brown, and Chris Hadfield.

    Known for reading: 

    THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

    STARDUST

    THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE

     

    GEORGE GUIDALL 

    George Guidall recently won a lifetime achievement award for his work as an audiobook narrator.  He’s recorded over 1,000 audiobooks, and received many awards, so you know you’ll probably find something he’s read that you’ll like. 

    Known for reading: loads of books!

    FRANKENSTEIN

    THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME

     

    KATHERINE KELLGREN

    If you love YA, you’ll love Katherine Kellgren.  Best known for her work on the BLOODY JACK novels by L.A. Meyer and for the KANE CHRONICLES series by Rick Riordan. Katherine is great at accents, and she’ll even sing a little!

    Known for reading: 

    BLOODY JACK

    KANE CHRONICLES

     

    BARBARA ROSENBLAT

    Called “the Meryl Streep of audiobooks” for her versatility with accents and subject matter, Barbara Rosenblat is one of the first audiobook narrators I heard spoken of in reverent tones.  The woman can read anything and make it interesting.

    Known for reading: 

    AMELIA PEABODY MYSTERIES

    ROSATO & ASSOCIATES MYSTERIES

     

    SIMON VANCE

    The narrator of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, along with many other books, is best known for giving life and personality to each character of a novel without resorting to a lot of vocal gymnastics.

    Known for reading: 

    THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

     

    If you’re looking for more excellent narrator suggestions, being a stellar audiobook narrator takes skill, so there are awards for them!  There are the Golden Voice Narrators awards and the Earphone awards

  • audiovisual experience

     

    Every once in awhile patrons will come in looking for a book that has both a paper and an audio version. Sometimes this approach helps struggling readers who can follow along with the narration. Sometimes patrons just want to enjoy the experience of both reading and hearing a great story. Either way, here are a few of my favorite book/audiobook combos from the children’s department.

    terrible twoTHE TERRIBLE TWO
    by Mac Barnett and Jory John; illustrated by Kevin Cornell
    (2015)
    Audiobook voice artist: Adam Verner

    “When master prankster Miles Murphy moves to sleepy Yawnee Valley, he challenges the local mystery prankster in an epic battle of tricks, but soon the two join forces to pull off the biggest prank ever seen.”   This is a great audiobook, but you don’t want to miss out on the amazing and helpful illustrations in the paper copy.

    emerald atlasTHE EMERALD ATLAS
    by John Stephens
    (2011)
    Audiobook voice artist: Jim Dale

    “Kate, Michael, and Emma have passed from one orphanage to another in the ten years since their parents disappeared to protect them, but now they learn that they have special powers, a prophesied quest to find a magical book, and a fearsome enemy.”   This mash-up of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia is narrated by the same guy who did the Harry Potter books. It’s awesome!

    heros guide to saving kingdomTHE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM
    by Christopher Healy; illustrated by Todd Harris
    (2012)
    Audiobook voice artist: Bronson Pinchot

    “The four princes erroneously dubbed “Prince Charming” and rudely marginalized in their respective fairy tales form an unlikely team when a witch threatens the whole kingdom.”   This hilarious book is accompanied by hilarious illustrations. The narrator of the audio book (available on Overdrive) has some of the best range of voices I’ve ever heard. Don’t miss this pairing!

    flora and ulyssesFLORA AND ULYSSES
    by Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by K.G. Campbelle
    (2013)
    Audiobook voice artist: Tara Sands

    “She is a natural-born cynic! He is an unassuming squirrel! Together, Fora & Ulysses will conquer villains, defend the defenseless, and protect the weak, or something.”   Another book with some great comic style illustrations that lend well to the story. The audiobook adds some of the excitement befitting a superhero squirrel.

    the book thiefTHE BOOK THIEF
    by Markus Zusak
    (2005)
    Audiobook voice artist: Allan Corduner

    This book is technically not in the Children's Department... but it's about a child! “Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel—a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.” Reading or hearing this book is a life-changing experience. Doing both would somehow be even better. Delve into Liesel’s world with the paper copy, but get some help with all those German words and overall emotion by listening to the audiobook.

     

  • american history audiobooks

    My love of history began in college when I discovered that instead of the dry list of facts I had assumed history books contained, they were actually full of incredible stories, unbelievable drama, powerful personalities, and world-changing events. And it was all real! However, when real life started for me after college, the time I had available to read enormous historical volumes understandably lessened, and my quest for knowledge about the past was largely put on hold.

    But last year that all changed when I discovered the OverDrive collection offered through the library’s website. I downloaded the free app onto my phone, chose a digital audiobook to download, and plugged in my earbuds. As I did yard work or cooked dinner, I could also be experiencing the thrill of political intrigues or the tragedies of the battlefield. Doing the dishes got a whole lot more exciting! Here are five of my favorite audiobooks on American history that are available through OverDrive. 

    worst hard timeTHE WORST HARD TIME: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THOSE WHO SURVIVED THE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL
    by Timothy Egan
    (2006)  

    In the middle of the Great Depression, those living in America’s heartland experienced calamity in a form like nothing ever seen before or since: the “black blizzards” of the Dust Bowl. Determined to hold onto their hard-won land, families faced the risk of losing their crops, animals, homes, and health. Telling in their own words how they lived in sod huts with wet sheets placed over the cracks, or how they bottled sagebrush to eat after all the crops were gone, the grit and endurance of these survivors is truly incredible. 

    summer moonEMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON: QUANAH PARKER AND THE RISE AND FALL OF THE COMANCHES, THE MOST POWERFUL INDIAN TRIBE IN AMERICAN HISTORY
    by S. C. Gwynne
    (2010) 

    A vivid history of the Comanches and their last stand to stop white settlers from taking the Indian lands of the Great Plains. During the 40-year territory war, many fascinating characters arose on both sides, including Quanah Parker, son of a Comanche chief and a white woman who had been kidnapped as a girl but grew to love the Indian way of life so much that she refused rescue by her European relatives.

    undauntedUNDAUNTED COURAGE: MERIWETHER LEWIS, THOMAS JEFFERSON, AND THE OPENING OF THE AMERICAN WEST
    by Stephen E. Ambrose
    (1996)

    Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark led an expedition of men and one woman past the boundaries of what was then the United States and into the great unknown. They endured hardships, saw jaw-dropping natural wonders, took specimens of plants and animals unknown to European settlers, and began their education in the complicated relationships of the native peoples with each other and with the whites. The ultimate adventure story that helped make America what it is today.  

    clouds of gloryCLOUDS OF GLORY: THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF ROBERT E. LEE
    by Michael Korda
    (2014) 

    Although uncomfortable with slavery and not in favor of secession, when Lee was offered the command of the Union Army at the start of the Civil War, he refused the post because he said he could never fight against his beloved Virginia. He became the brilliant Confederate general who would fight the long defeat with dignity and a strong sense of honor. A detailed and fascinating portrait of the man who would become the nation’s greatest military leader and earn respect and admiration from both North and South.  

    marmeeMARMEE & LOUISA: THE UNTOLD STORY OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT AND HER MOTHER
    by Eve LaPlante
    (2012) 

    Much has been made of Louisa May Alcott’s father and his influence on her and her writing. But now a great niece of Louisa’s, with the help of newly discovered family letters, brings Louisa’s mother, Abigail May, out of obscurity. She effectively argues that it was Louisa’s intensely close relationship with her mother -- and their shared frustration at being intellectual and ambitious women in a time that discouraged female independence -- that was truly the greatest shaping force in Louisa’s life.

     

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  • narrators

    A few months ago Marcie did a blog post about the importance of picking the right narrator for an audio book. If you missed it, check it out here. As a librarian who listens to more books than read (I read one book to every fifty I listen to), I have tried a variety of narrators and know how they can make or break a story. While just about everyone I know says that Jim Dale, the narrator of the Harry Potter books is their favorite, here is my list of Five Favorite Children’s Narrators.

    GraveyardBookNeil Gaiman
    Book to listen to: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK
    by Neil Gaiman
    (2008)

    As a general rule, authors should not narrate their own works. Writing a book takes a different talent than reading it aloud and they should leave it to the professionals—but Neil Gaiman is the exception.  A must-listen is his reading of The Graveyard Book.

    RuinsofGorlanJohn Keating
    Book to listen to: THE RUINS OF GORLAN
    by John Flanagan
    (2005)

    The is one of my all-time favorite series and Keating does a great job making you feel you have stepped back into time with brave knights defending castles.


    FalsePrinceCharlie McWade
    Book to listen to: THE FALSE PRINCE
    by Jennifer A. Nielsen
    (2012)

    Can you have a crush on a voice? Yes, you can, and for me it is Charlie McWade.  (Okay, I have a couple voice crushes but I’m focusing on Children’s book narrators here.) This book is a great adventure and the narration just brings the book to life.

    heros guide to saving kingdomBronson Pinchot
    Book to listen to: THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING THE KINGDOM
    by Christopher Healy
    (2012)

    You might know him as Balchie from the 80s TV series Perfect Strangers but he now narrates books. He has the talent to come up with dozens of distinct voices, which comes in handy when he narrates The Hero’s Guide to Saving the Kingdom.

    AmuletofSamarkandSimon Jones
    Book to listen to: THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND
    by Jonathan Stroud
    (2004)

    The Amulet of Samarkand is actually better to listen to than to read—and that’s not just because Jones manages to weave footnotes seamlessly into the story but because he also has the perfect delivery of the sarcastic djinni.  I pretty much listen to anything Simon Jones narrates just to listen to his voice.

     

  • Always available audiobooks

    I have previously confessed to my somewhat worrisome addiction to audiobooks on Overdrive. I keep a very robust wish list, and as soon as a hold comes in, I place another so that I am never in want of something great to listen to.

    However, there are times when nothing on my wish list is available and my holds are still pending. When this happens, I long for Jedi powers to “encourage” other listeners to hurry up, finish their audiobooks, and return them to Overdrive so I can start listening to them already. When this doesn't work, I am grateful for the 175 audiobooks that are always available on Overdrive.

    Here are the top five titles I’m keeping in my back pocket. Titles I want to listen to and will download when the new stuff is unavailable.

    balanced and barefootBALANCED AND BAREFOOT: HOW UNRESTRICTED OUTDOOR PLAY MAKES FOR STRONG, CONFIDENT, AND CAPABLE CHILDREN
    Angela Hanscom
    (2016)

    I am not a parent. However, I LOVE reading parenting books. It’s weird. And, at this year’s Best Books of 2016 event, one of our other librarians (who isn’t a parent either, just saying) put this book on her list and I’ve wanted to listen to it ever since. In it, a pediatric occupational therapist explains why unrestrained movement and outdoor play are vital for children’s cognitive development. I’m hoping its just a really good argument for playing in mud because that sounds fun.

    emperor of all maladiesEMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES: A BIOGRAPHY OF CANCER
    Siddhartha Mukherjee
    (2010)

    I am just realizing this has been on my “To Read” list for 6 years! Sigh. Maybe this year I will finally get a chance to listen to it. This is a “biography” of cancer, from its origins to the epic battle to cure, control, and conquer it. Also, it won the Pulitzer Prize, so it is probably well written and full of good things to know.

     

     

    hemingses of monticelloHEMINGSES OF MONTICELLO: AN AMERICAN FAMILY
    Anette Gordon-Reed
    (2009)

    While this book hasn’t been on my official list, it is one that has been on my radar. I love reading history books and last year I read AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie which is about Jefferson’s eldest daughter “Patsy.” I was fascinated by the novel and I am looking forward to learning about the Jeffersons from a different perspective.

     

     

    bananaBANANA: THE FATE OF THE FRUIT THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
    Dan Koeppel
    (2008)

    I keep hearing about how we should enjoy bananas now because their days are numbered. I’d really like to know what that is all about. This book is a gripping biological detective story that uncovers the myth, mystery, and the endangered fate of the world’s most humble fruit. The only downside of listening to this audiobook is that I eat more when I read about food.

     

     

    surprised by joy1SURPRISED BY JOY
    C.S. Lewis
    (1956)

    Audiobooks that are read by the authors are some of my favorites. How amazing would it be to have this autobiographical book about C. S. Lewis’s journey from Christianity to atheism and back to Christianity narrated by the author himself? So, that is not possible. But it would be cool and I am still excited to listen to SURPRISED BY JOY which is one of the few C.S. Lewis books I haven’t read yet.

     

  • Always available audiobooks

    I love audiobooks. They are the only reason I can get through the number of books I do each year. I can listen while exercising, cleaning, driving, or cooking. Also, I love Overdrive. Downloading audiobooks is so much easier than having to swap discs in and out of my laptop and way safer than swapping discs while driving in my car.

    Much of the time, the books I am most excited to listen to are popular choices for other people as well. So, I put myself on hold for them and (mostly) patiently wait my turn. In the meantime, the Utah State Library has 175 wonderful audiobooks available all the time. There is a lot of variety represented here but listed below are five of my favorite titles to enthusiastically recommend.

    tidying upTHE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP: THE JAPANESE ARE OF DECLUTTERING AND ORGANIZING
    Marie Kondo
    (2015)

    If you haven’t heard about Marie Kondo’s book, let me boil it down for you. In THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP you will learn that if something doesn’t bring you joy, you probably don’t need it. Kondo’s ideas really can live up to the title and change your life if you can complete her whole process in your home. I did not manage to do that, but I did really appreciate her thoughts, and I have become much better at letting go of the extra and unnecessary things I have in my home and my life.

     

    zookeepers wifeTHE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE
    Diane Ackerman
    (2007)

    This book has been out for a while, but a new movie starring Jessica Chastain has made it very popular again. It is the true story of a Warsaw zookeeper’s wife who helped save hundreds of people and animals during World War II. I loved it when I read it years ago and am excited to see the film.

     

     

    goose girlGOOSE GIRL
    Shannon Hale
    (2003)

    This was Shannon Hale’s debut novel, and I’m so glad she kept writing. GOOSE GIRL is a wonderful retelling of a German fairy tale and the first novel in the Books of Bayern series. This is a perfect pick for listeners of all ages and is narrated by a full cast.

     

     

     

    white trashWHITE TRASH: THE 400 YEAR UNTOLD HISTORY OF CLASS IN AMERICA
    Nancy Isenberg
    (2016)

    WHITE TRASH is no fairy tale. It is actually a fairly depressing look at class history in America, from the present back to colonial times. However, taking a good hard look at our collective flaws can often lead the way to change. I learned so much while listening to this audiobook and I hope others will take the time to learn more as well.

     

     

    StiffSTIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS
    Mary Roach
    (2004)

    I love all of Mary Roach’s books, but this one is my favorite. STIFF brings to light the oddly compelling and often hilarious lives of bodies after death. Cadavers have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings and Roach explores and investigates them all. What I love most is the tone of Mary’s books. She is so fascinated with her topic that readers can’t help but be fascinated right along with her.

     

  •  scottish mysteries

    It could be because I miss living in Scotland, but I've been drawn to books with Scottish narrators lately, and since I'm a mystery fan, I've found myself listening to Scottish mysteries. Whether you like the cozy stories or tough detectives, there's a series here for every mystery reader.

     

    5.25 Death of a GossipDEATH OF A GOSSIP
    by M.C. Beaton
    1985

    Constable Hamish MacBeth investigates the murder of Lady Jane Hamilton who has a nasty habit of digging up dirt on the residents and guests of Lochdubh. 

     

    5.25 Raven BlackRAVEN BLACK
    by Ann Cleeves
    2006

    When the body of a teenage girl turns up on the Shetland Islands, Inspector Jimmy Perez launches an investigation into the killing, taking him into the heart of sinister secrets from the past. 

     

    5.25 The Sunday Philosphy ClubTHE SUNDAY PHILOSOPHY CLUB
    by Alexander McCall Smith
    2004

    When Isabel Dalhousie witnesses the death of a young man falling from the balcony of the Edinburgh concert hall, she decides to take it upon herself to solve the murder. 

     

    5.25 Resurrection MenRESURRECTION MEN
    by Ian Rankin
    (2001)

    Sent to a rehabilitation school after a serious mistake, Inspector John Rebus discovers that his classmates are plotting a drug heist and might be connected to Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke's investigation to an art dealer's murder. 

     

    5.25 A Wee Murder in My ShopWEE MURDER IN MY SHOP
    by Fran Stewart
    (2015)

    While searching for hidden treasures in the Scottish Highlands, shop owner Peggy Winn purchases an old tartan shawl that unexpectedly comes with the ghost of a 14th-century Scotsman, who, once she returns to Vermont, helps her discover who murdered her ex-boyfriend.

     
  • funny audiobooks 01

    Find them on Overdrive:

    THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM

    A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO

    RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPLESTILTSKIN

  • funny audiobooks 2 01

    Find them in the catalog:

    THE UNLIKELY ADVENTURES OF MABEL JONES

    THE WORST CLASS TRIP EVER

    THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGARMAN SWAMP

  • medieval 01

    Find them in the catalog: 

    KEEPER OF THE GRAIL

    THE RUINS OF GORLAN

    SEBASTIAN DARKE PRINCE OF FOOLS

  • kids being kids

     Is there anything better than a story about a child who saves the world from evil? Who doesn’t love reading about a 12-year-old Percy Jackson fighting off the minotaur with no training, or an 11-year-old Hermione Granger being the brains behind a death-defying magical operation during her first year of wizarding life?

    But I will admit that sometimes I get a little tired when yet another character just happens to have memorized the entire internet by age 10, or becomes the best marksman in the kingdom after only a few weeks of practice with a bow.  

    So here’s to all the kids that act like kids and to the authors that know the difference between precocious and PhD. Here’s to characters that have to wait for their muscles to develop before becoming a knight or who care more about their sibling rivalries than the fate of the world. And here are just a few of my favorite characters who are happy being young:   

    11.21 Three Times LuckyMo and Dale from THREE TIMES LUCKY
    By Sheila Turnage
    (2012)

    Mo, orphaned by hurricane Katrina, lives in an eclectic adopted family in Tupelo Landing, NC. She and her bumbling best friend Dale open a “detective agency” when Dale’s no-good father starts causing trouble. Mo’s hilarious southern metaphors, combined with Dale’s constant misunderstanding of sarcasm make them a delightful team. This series is a tribute to small town troubles and the joys of childhood capers. I’d recommend listening to the first book in this series to enjoy a fun rendition of Mo’s southern drawl. (The narrator changes for book two, so read that one.)  

     

    11.21 CoralineCoraline from CORALINE
    By Neil Gaiman
    (2002)

    Coraline is a bored 11-year-old who feels a little neglected by her work-from-home parents. Since they’ve recently moved to a new house, she puts on her explorer’s cap (literally) and tries to whittle away the hours. It’s not too long before Coraline discovers a little door in the living room that sometimes appears bricked up, but sometimes is a portal to the “other” world. One of the reasons I love this spooky read so much is that Coraline approaches everything with a very childlike perspective. She takes what she can see at face value and, at the end of the day, wants what every kid wants: her mom and dad’s love and attention. This book is also a great listen and quite short.  

     

    11.21 The War That Saved My LifeAda from THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE 
    By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    (2015)

    Nine-year-old Ada has been a cripple since birth and is abused by her mother because of it. During World War 2 when many children were shipped out of London, Ada sneaks out of her house against her mother’s wishes and joins her little brother to travel to the countryside. I think Bradley did a wonderful job of showing the fixed determination of a child who’s had very little going for her in life. With the necessary love of the new adult in her life, Ada learns to walk, ride a horse, and deal with the consequences of abuse.

     

  •  Spanish Audiobooks 628

    I am so excited that we recently obtained thirteen new books on CD in Spanish for Children! This brings our JSPANBCD collection to 42. The majority of these are picture books, including favorites like:

    11.14 Clic Clac MuuCLIC CUAC MUU, VACAS ESCRITORAS (Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type)
    Por Doreen Cronen
    Illustrado por Betsy Lewin
    (2000)

     

    11.14 Dont Let the PigeonNO DEJES QUE LA PALOMA CONDUZCA EL AUTOBUS (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus)
    Por Mo Willems
    (2003)

     

    11.14 Chato y su cenaCHATO Y SU CENA (Chato’s Kitchen)
    Por Gary Sato
    Ilustrado por Susan Guevara
    (2014)

     

    In addition to the picture books, there are also the first five books about Los Chicos del Vagón de Carga  (Box Car Children) and several collections of folk and fairy tales.  These are great for Spanish speakers and Spanish learners of all ages. Why not check out some for your next road trip? 

     

    Estoy tan feliz que hemos adquirido trece audiolibros nuevos en español para niños. Este lleva nuestra colección JSPANBCD a 42. La mayoría de estos son libros ilustrados incluyendo cuentos favoritos como

    11.14 Clic Clac MuuCLIC CUAC MUU, VACAS ESCRITORAS
    Por Doreen Cronen
    Illustrado por Betsy Lewin
    (2000)

     

    11.14 Dont Let the PigeonNO DEJES QUE LA PALOMA CONDUZCA EL AUTOBUS
    Por Mo Willems
    (2003)

     

    11.14 Chato y su cenaCHATO Y SU CENA
    Por Gary Sato
    Ilustrado por Susan Guevara
    (2014)

     

    Además de los libros ilustrados, también tenemos los primeros cinco libros sobre Los Chicos del Vagón de Carga y varias antologías de cuentos populares y de hadas. Estos son excelentes para hispanohablantes y estudiantes de español de todas las edades. ¿Por qué no sacar algunos para su próximo viaje por coche?

  • meet libby 01

     

    I have a new best friend, and her name is Libby. 

    For a long time, I have loved checking out eBooks and downloadable audiobooks from the library. I love that it's fast! I love that it's free! I don't always love that things automatically get returned at the end of three weeks whether I'm finished or not, but I do love that it's impossible to get late fees on electronic materials. I love our library's selection through OverDrive. 

    But I'm going to be honest for a second: I haven't always loved OverDrive's interface. It often feels like there are a few too many steps to get to a point where I can actually listen on my phone. How do I get to my bookshelf again? As a champion for utilizing these resources, I've always felt like the hurdles were worth it, but I completely understand how new users might get frustrated with the numerous steps it can take to get from finding an eBook to actually reading it. 

    But now Libby is here, and Libby is different.

    Libby by OverDrive is OverDrive's new, streamlined app that eliminates all the things I hated about checking out eBooks and Audiobooks. Libby remembers your library card so you don't have to sign in every time. Libby can remember that you want eBooks sent to your Kindle or iPad but audiobooks downloaded on your phone, and she does it right every time.

    With Libby, you're a search and a click away from reading or listening to the book you want. The steps go like this: 

    1. Install the Libby by OverDrive App on your device. 
    2. Search for your library and sign in with your current library card (Libby can even remember more than one card and toggle between them, if you'd like). You only have to do this step once. 
    3. Search for a title you're interested in. 
    4. If the title is available, tap "borrow." Libby will send the book to your bookshelf according to your preferences. 
    5. Once you've borrowed a title, you can go to your bookshelf to start reading or listening immediately, or you can keep browsing. 

    Libby is still part of the OverDrive family, which means that you'll see the same collection you've always seen in OverDrive, with new titles added all the time. There are few features that don't sync up with OverDrive's old app (like recommending purchases to the library), but if all you're doing in the OverDrive app is reading or listening to books, you're going to love Libby. 

    She's my best friend, but I'm happy to share. Happy reading!

  • As I commute to work I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I can listen to several books back to back, but then I need a palate cleanser of sorts. Sometimes this comes in the form of turning on the radio for a couple of days or listening to a few podcasts before starting a new book. Other times, I can get out of my listening rut by starting a middle grade novel. 

    I have found that middle grade fiction is perfect to listen to in the car because the books are extremely engaging, yet if I miss something while I’m paying attention to the road; it usually it isn’t hard to figure out what I missed. As an added bonus, middle grade novels are often perfect for the whole family to listen to together. 

    Here are seven—it was hard to narrow this list down—of my favorite middle grade audiobooks. Try one out on your next road trip, commute, or errand run! 

    1.30 EchoECHO
    by Pam Munoz Ryan
    (2015)

    This was by far my favorite read of 2016! I sang the praises of this audiobook in this blog post and continue recommending this book to anyone looking for an amazing audiobook.  

     

    1.30 The Indian in the CupboardTHE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD
    by Lynne Reid Banks
    (2005)

    I remember reading this book in elementary school and feeling captivated by its magical story. I recently listened to the audiobook (read by the author) and again enjoyed this wonderful book. The series has five books in total, so if you like this story, there are plenty more. While I didn’t enjoy the movie quite as much as the book, it’s a pretty good adaptation.  

     

    1.30 The Wild RobotTHE WILD ROBOT
    by Peter Brown
    (2016)

    I loved the music and sound effects on this audiobook. I’m not usually a fan of too many extra things when listening to a book, but this one was well done. The sound effects added to the story in a very charming way.  

     

    1.30 Because of Mr. TeruptBECAUSE OF MR. TERUPT
    by Rob Buyea
    (2013)

    I read this book in print form a few years ago and really loved the story. I started listening to the audiobook the other day (maybe so I could make sure this title could be included in this list) and am enjoying the story in audio format as well. I’d recommend this book to those who liked WONDER, since it has a similar feel and both talk about bullying. This is the first book in a trilogy.

     

    1.30 Gregor the OverlanderGREGOR THE OVERLANDER
    by Suzanne Collins
    (2005)

    I enjoyed HUNGER GAMES and had heard that this book by Suzanne Collins was also very good. I started listening to this series (there are five books total) when I lived in Virginia. I loved every single book in the series and am so glad I gave these books a try.  

     

    1.30 MatildaMATILDA
    by Roald Dahl
    (2013)

    I loved this movie when it came out in the 90s! This fall I decided that I needed to listen to the book (and then re-watch the movie of course) and it did not disappoint! Kate Winslet does an excellent job narrating, and it’s perfect for all ages. 

     

    1.30 Mustaches for MaddieMUSTACHES FOR MADDIE
    by Chad Morris
    (2017)

    Add this as another book for WONDER fans. This was a very touching story which had me in tears a few times. Be sure to listen to this one with some tissues at the ready.

     
  • curved shelves

    Though I work at a library, I am not a librarian. I haven’t been a librarian, and probably won’t ever be a librarian. I am, however, a reader, and I love getting recommendations from my librarian friends.  

    Lately, I’ve been reading and listening to more and more of their recommendations, and I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you, so here they are: my recommended recommendations (this post will just be about audiobooks; I’ll share more recommended recommendations in another post!).  

    StiffSTIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS
    Mary Roach
    (2004)  

    Carla recently recommended this as one of her favorite always-available audiobooks on Overdrive. Because I sometimes get frustrated waiting for a digital hold to come in, the always-available option is great.  

    This book is amazing. You do have to have just a bit of a strong stomach (if sentences like “To see her his way, held open like a Gladstone bag, forces a view of the human torso for what it basically is: a large, sturdy container for guts,” make you queasy, maybe skip this one), but it is fascinating to think about all the ways that cadavers have made our lives better and safer. From medical training to car safety testing, cadavers do more for you than you know! Surprisingly, I don’t usually spend that much time in my day thinking about human decomposition, but it’s been a really interesting listen. Mary Roach is understated and hilarious, and I’m pretty sure I’m going go out and read everything she’s written.

     

    the war that saved my lifeTHE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE  
    Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    (2015)  

    A few years ago, Joella was on the Odyssey Committee. She listened to hundreds of audiobooks that year, and while she has to keep quiet about all the things the committee listened to as potential winners, she can recommend the award-winners enthusiastically, which is how I heard about THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE.  

    If you can, listen to this book. It’s a good read, but an even better listen. The story of two children relocated out of London during World War II is at times heartbreaking and hopeful, and will make you laugh and cry and have all the feels. It explores the ways that we are broken, and the ways that we are healed. It’s middle-grade, so this would be a great listen for younger readers as well.  

     

    ready player one

    READY PLAYER ONE  
    Ernest Cline
    (2011)


    In my year of helping edit blog content, I’ve seen this one recommended several times, and those recommendations especially commend Will Wheaton as a narrator. I agree with those assessments. Will Wheaton is a great narrator that manages to communicate teenage angst and nerd-ish-ness without ever falling into annoying or whiny territory.  

    Though at times I felt like the book got a little bogged down in the details of explaining its sort of post-apocalyptic video game-obsessed society, it’s all interesting, and once the story picks up it’s a fast-paced and fun listen. I think anyone could enjoy this book, but it’s especially satisfying if you’re a fan of 80’s pop culture and vintage video games. If you can recall playing text-based RPGs on your family’s Commodore 64 with fondness, this one’s for you.  

    So there are my favorite three things I’ve listened to because our librarians told me to; what librarian-recommended books have you loved?  

  • sync

     Who doesn’t love a good audiobook? What if I told you that you could download (and keep forever!) two audiobooks a week between April 27th and August 16th?!? SYNC is an audiobook literacy program geared towards teenagers. Their mission is to “develop the audience of teen audiobook listeners by providing free audiobook downloads. Two complete audiobooks—thematically paired—are available each week for listeners.”

    This program has been going on for several years, and there is a great selection again this spring and summer. Most of the titles are young adult fiction, but there are a few nonfiction titles and classics mixed in as well, with a variety of stories being told. Here are a few of the titles I’m most excited about downloading.

    BeastBEAST 
    by Donna Jo Napoli
    (2000)

    With the recent release of “Beauty and the Beast” starring Emma Watson, I’m certain this book is going to be a popular download. This novel elaborates on the original by telling the story from the beast’s perspective, only it is set in Persia instead of France.

     

     

     

    The WitchesTHE WITCHES: SALEM, 1692 
    by Stacy Schiff
    (2015)

    The Salem Witch Trials have always been fascinating to me. I visited Salem, Massachusetts a few years ago and loved learning even more about that interesting time in history. This nonfiction title explores the role of women in the events leading up to the Salem Witch Trials and explains how these tragedies came to be.

     

     

     

    The Dorito EffectTHE DORITO EFFECT: THE SURPRISING NEW TRUTH ABOUT FOOD AND FLAVOR 
    by Mark Schatzker
    (2015)

    This book looks like the perfect fit for me! I’ve written a few times about my interest in foodie books on this blog (see here and here). Check it out if you too are interested in books featuring food.

    In this title we’ll learn how, as a nation, we have been led away from nutritious natural foods towards the delicious manufactured flavored chemicals so much of our “food” now contains. Read a review of this book on our Staff Review blog.

     

    Between Shades of GrayBETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY 
    by Ruta Sepetys
    (2011)

    I read this book in 2014 and gave it 4 stars on my Goodreads review, which means I really liked it! This is the story of 15-year-old Lina, her mother, and her brother as they are thrust out of their Lithuanian home by the Soviets and sent to Siberia. Lina doesn’t know why her father disappeared or why her family is being deported. Her family faces starvation and many other horrors during this time period, yet they also find ways to feel hopeful for their future.

    Although I recall feeling the cold, harsh winter while reading this book and the importance of the story, I don’t remember many of the details. Good thing I can refresh my memory by downloading this title! I know what I’ll be doing the first week in August. Read a review of this book on our Staff Review blog.

    Visit the Teen Corner for the complete schedule. In addition you can go to www.audiobookSYNC.com to listen to a clip of each title. Happy listening!

     

  • Tips for the Compulsive Audiobook Listener

    It’s the beginning of September and I just finished my 90th book since January 1st. That is a lot of books, if I do say so myself.  I’m asked fairly frequently how I manage to get through so many books and the answer is that I listen to them.  I read physical books occasionally, but I admit to being an almost exclusive audiobook listener.  (Which it totally legitimate!  Don’t let anyone lit-shame you into thinking listening isn’t as valid as reading!  It is!!)

    Below is a list of a few things I do to facilitate my voracious appetite for audiobooks!

    1. Use Overdrive/Libby

    If you don’t already, you should really get to know the Libby app which lets you download audiobooks for free from your library!  It works a lot like Audible, so if you are familiar with that, Libby will be easy (and free)!  Learn more here.

    2. Give Up Bingeing on TV

    There was a time in my life when I watched a lot of television, and I loved it. However, over the past few years I’ve given up binge watching dramas and sitcoms to find time to listen to more books.  I have always been one of those crazy multitaskers and so switching my entertainment distraction from television to audiobooks wasn’t that hard and I have found I really like the trade-off.

    3. Embracing the Chipmunks

    With either the Libby or the Overdrive apps you can speed up the readers! This is really great because if you double-time that speed a 10 hour audiobook only takes 5 hours to actually listen to, which is great.  There are a few drawbacks in that some readers sound like chipmunks when sped up that much and if you are particularly fond of a narrator you can miss out on their delightful cadence or amazing accents.  So, sometimes I slow it down and just revel the experience and sometimes I speed it up and get to move on to the next book that much faster.  And you don’t have to go double time.  You can just speed it up a little, say 1.25 times the speed and you still save a good chunk of time.

    4. Don’t Get Caught Unprepared

    I always keep two audiobooks downloaded to my phone. Nothing is worse than finishing one and not being connected to wifi to start listening to the next one!  Hopefully your phone has enough memory to allow you to do this but the serious book listener should definitely consider getting a phone with enough memory to keep appropriately well-stocked with audiobooks.

    5. Listen Constantly

    This is probably an obvious tip. I listen to audiobooks while driving, while cooking, while cleaning, while feeding my newborn, while unwinding at the end of the day and playing mindless puzzle games on my phone.  I listen whenever I can.  It’s surprising how fast these little chunks of time add up to a whole book!

  • Tips for the Compulsive Audiobook Listener

    Feel like you'll never make it through your to-read list? Audiobooks to the rescue! Along with last week's post, these are my best tips for audibook fans.

    6. Remember Your People

    This is more of a warning than a tip. Although I recommend listening constantly, please do not do so to the expense of the wonderful people in your life.  Stop listening when others join you in a room or use headphones so they don’t have to listen to what you are listening to.  Just remember to be courteous and present…even if you are trying to sate your hunger for literature!

    7. Tuesdays are for Searching

    As you find audiobooks to listen to on Libby or the Overdrive App, you will undoubtedly have to place things on hold and then wait for your turn. The hold lists are seldom as long as they look, so hopefully you aren’t waiting too long, but as an insider’s tip:  New titles are usually added on Tuesday afternoons.  I like to search for new releases on Tuesday afternoon or evening  and hopefully get on hold for things before they anyone else knows they are even available.

    8. Keep “Always Availables” in Your Back Pocket

    Even with a carefully curated hold list, there may be times when everything you are SUPER excited to listen to is on hold and you need something to listen to NOW. This is where the Always Available (https://utahsonlinelibrary.overdrive.com/utahsonlinelibrary-provo/content/collection/29749) titles come in handy.  These selected audiobooks can be checked out any time and they are great for those days when you need something now.

    9. Don’t forget Books on CD

    As the popularity of downloadable audiobooks increases, we are noticing that our Book on CD collection is not being used quite as heavily. I will sometimes grab a Book on CD to listen to in my car, where I still have a CD player, while listening to something else on my phone when I’m in my home or while walking in the park.  CDs aren’t as convenient as they once were, but they are still a format that can come in handy and may be available faster than the downloadable version.

    10. Try Something New

    Finally, I like to encourage people to listen to genres they may not have enjoyed while reading. I can sometimes get bogged down in a thick nonfiction title, but as an audiobook, it seems to go much faster and I tend to enjoy them a whole lot more.  So, don’t be afraid to download something a little different from your normal fare.  You may just find a whole new category of books to enjoy!

    While your goal may not be to listen to over 100 books each year, using audiobooks to fit reading into your busy schedule is a great strategy.  Happy listening!!