My Random Thoughts About Audio Books

Last week, my sister Laurie, my cousin Lisa, and I went on a road trip to Michigan to visit my sister Becky. It was second nature for me to check out a variety of audio books from Topsham Public Library in preparation of the 14ish hours of drive time. (I won’t mention which of us has the lead foot.) Now, all three of us are readers and enjoy reading, but what I did not know is that Lisa had never listened to audio books before. She was a little nervous about the experience she was about undergo. I happened to have checked out The Guilty by David Baldacci, so we began with it because she was familiar with Baldacci and liked him. The time flew by with the three of us in the car, filling our mouths with junk food, spilling family secrets and switching up the audio book with some tunes. And Lisa thoroughly enjoyed her first audio book experience.

I, also, was an adult when I listened to my first audio book. My family was headed north for a vacation and I picked up a couple audio books from Topsham Public Library to, hopefully, make the ride more bearable. For no particular reason, I chose Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce read by Jason Hughes. A young boy in a small village in Wales tells the story of his sister’s grand plan to steal an art masterpiece to help their father save the family business. All of us, including my three elementary aged children, loved it. Even to this day, some 10 years later, we quote lines from it. The way Jason Hughes read the book added so much to the story.

After that first experience, I wanted to check out every audio book and listen non-stop. I was soon to discover not all audio books are created equal. Just as Jason Hughes’ performance added to the story, there are just as many readers who destroy a story. You will love some, and you will hate others.

I can remember what I was doing when I was listening to my favorite audio books. I hulled strawberries, froze strawberries, made strawberry jam, and made strawberry shortcake while listening to The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey and read by Paul Michael. I’m not sure if I would have liked the book as much as I liked the audio book. Paul Michael, through slight nuances, makes this story more thoughtful than if I had read it myself. This story is about a young man who tries to do everything right but everything goes wrong. He’s a descendant of one of King Arthur’s knights only he doesn’t know he’s a descendant until he tries to steal Excalibur and he doesn’t know he’s stealing Excalibur until it’s too late and the fate of the world is in his hands.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and read by Allan Corduner, I have listened to many a time. I listen to audio books while preparing supper, or cooking for fun, or cleaning out the refrigerator, or sewing at the kitchen table. Usually, during these times I would be hard pressed to find my children as they make themselves scarce when they think I might need someone to dry dishes, or worse yet, wash dishes, so imagine my delight while I was listening to this particular book my eldest slowly making his way into the kitchen and asking me what I was listening to. He stood there in the kitchen – he didn’t pull up a chair, he just stood and leaned against the counter under the spell of Corduner and his reading. That was also the first time an audio book disappeared, and I found it because I heard him playing it in his room that night.

By the time they graduate from high school, I try to have a scrapbook done that chronicles my children’s school days. It was when I began working on my daughter’s scrapbook that I listened to Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle and read by David Ackroyd. This is a story about rum-running off the coast of Rhode Island during prohibition and about two boys who are changed by a grisly find on the beach.

Some other favorites of mine are:

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys read by Jorjeana Marie, Will Damron, Cassandra Morris, and Michael Crouch is a fictional account of the true life sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a transport ship carrying refugees and German military fleeing the coming Russians.

The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer and read by Scott Brick is the first in a series, but is enjoyable as a stand alone, about an archivist that bucks security protocol to impress a childhood sweetheart. This leads to a dictionary once owned by George Washington which then leads to murder.

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and read by Tony Goldwyn is non-fiction and tells the story of a serial killer in Chicago during World’s Fair in 1893.

I could go on, but what about you? Are you an audio book fan? What are your favorites?