Tell Me A Story: The Art and Joy of Audiobooks
Do you find cleaning the bathroom or weeding the garden dreary? Try listening to an audiobook and make your chores something to look forward to. They're also great for commuters and running errands -- you don't feel quite so helpless in traffic jams when you're listening to a great mystery or compelling biography. And family road trips are even better with a well-narrated book that everyone can listen to and discuss.
I've heard lots of books that I would probably never read -- the Harry Potter series, for example, or classics I never got around to reading, such as Frankenstein. The reader, of course, is critical. Most are actors who happen to love reading. They typically read the book beforehand, determine if it's a good fit, and then start researching accents and pronunciations.
A skilled reader creates voices that are so distinctive that the listener knows immediately who's speaking. Veteran narrator Simon Vance explains how he determines what voice to use for a given character: "My first anchor will be the information given in the text by the author -- Dickens is particularly good at painting the picture of a character, giving me some idea of his/her physical characteristics and social status even before they open their mouth. Often, if there's nothing spelled out I use my intuition based on who the person is, what they want and how they interact with the other characters. There's usually something I can hook onto."
2014 marks the 19th year for the Audie Awards, given by the Audio Publishers Association for distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment. The list of finalists shows a mix of books in diverse categories including solo narration, mystery and history. Several were narrated by A-list actors, including Forest Whitaker, Kate Winslet, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Lyle Lovett.
Below is a selection of some of this year's finalists - listen for yourself and see who's Audie-worthy: