As the selector for the adult audiobook section at the library, I spend a lot of time listening to books on CD, Playaway, or my phone (through Hoopla or My Media Mall). With such a large variety to choose from, it can be difficult to know what to pick, especially since audiobooks can take a significant chunk of time! (Anyone who’s ever picked up a behemoth 25-CD audiobook knows what I’m talking about. Les Miserables, I’m looking at you.)
Audiobooks also present an additional difficulty. While I might enjoy the book itself, the narrator’s voice might make me cringe. On the flip side, a book I might not like in print can be brought to life by an amazingly talented narrator like Simon Vance or Cassandra Campbell. With all these priorities to juggle, standing in the audiobook section can feel crippling—so many discs, so little time!
Luckily, I have the Audies to steer me in the right direction. These annual audiobook awards, presented by the Audio Publishers Association, celebrate the best of the best in a plethora of categories. Here are some of my top picks from the winner’s circle, all available on the third floor of the library. (If you want more suggestions, look for the bookmark in the audiobook section.) For the full list of winners, and other great audiobook reviews, check out AudioFile.
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
It’s no surprise that Doerr’s work (winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and still a New York Times bestseller) clinched this award. Though the story weaves back and forth between the experiences of Marie-Laure, a young blind girl, and Werner, a German boy, narrator Zach Appelman manages to capture both their tales with gravity and grace.
Words of Radiance
by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson is a master of world-building, and this book (the second in his Stormlight Archive series) shows his gifts at their peak. Two narrators, one male and one female, share the reading duties—one for each protagonist, bringing the characters to life. If you like high fantasy, check this out.
by Amy Poehler
Reading Poehler’s book is a delight, but listening brings it to another level. Poehler reads her own work with a cast of familiar friends, comedians, and actors, making you feel like you’re listening to a radio version of SNL.
by Robert Galbraith
By now, most people know that J.K. Rowling is behind this popular series, which began with The Cuckoo’s Calling. Narrator Robert Glenister imbues the work with his gritty accent, bringing detective Cormoran Strike to life.
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher
by Hilary Mantel
Mantel is best known for her novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (now adapted into a popular BBC show), but this newest collection knocked me. Each story is a miniature world, with distinct voices and concerns. Narrator Jane Carr’s voice is the most British of British, but her rich tones and breadth of style will bring delight to Anglophiles and non-Anglophiles alike.