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Mary Burkey, a teacher, librarian, and audiobook addict, writes about listening, learning, and the joy of headsets

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Thursday, January 26, 2012 7:42 am
2012′s best adult audio
Posted by: Mary Burkey

A new honor for top narration: the Listen List, compiled by the Reference and User Services Division of the American Library Association. I am thrilled that adult audio fans and selectors now have this tremendous resource to add to ALA’s recognition of the best in youth audiobooks. The evaluation criteria really gets to the heart of why we listen – I especially love the fact that this honor reflects the joy that ADULTS find in being read a good story! The unique aspect of the RUSA Listen List? The addition of “Listen Alikes,” other current & backlist audios that match the mood & tone this year’s honorees – instant listener’s advisory, collection development, and display ideas! Check out the full 2012 Listen List:

All Clear by Connie Willis. Narrated by Katherine Kellgren. Brilliance Audio. (ISBN 978-1-4418-7576-1).
This sequel to Blackout, a stellar science fiction adventure, follows the plight of a group of historians from 2060, trapped in WWII England during the Blitz. In a narrative tour de force, Kellgren brings to life a large cast of characters, including a pair of street-smart urchins who capture the hearts of characters and listeners alike.

Listen-Alikes:
Away by Amy Bloom. Narrated by Barbara Rosenblat. HighBridge.
Pirate King by Laurie R. King. Narrated by Jenny Sterlin. Recorded Books.
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Narrated by Josephine Bailey. Books on Tape.

Bossypants by Tina Fey. Narrated by Tina Fey. Hachette Audio. (ISBN 978-1-60941-969-1). AudioGO. (ISBN 978-1-60941-719-2).
In a very funny memoir made decidedly funnier by its reader, Tina Fey relates sketches and memories of her time at SNL and Second City as well as the difficulties of balancing career and motherhood. In a voice dripping with wit, she acts out the book, adding extra-aural elements that print simply cannot convey.

Listen-Alikes:
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. Narrated by David Sedaris. Hachette Audio.
I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. Narrated by Sloane Crosley. Penguin Audio.
The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell. Narrated by Sarah Vowell. Simon & Schuster Audio.

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. Narrated by Dominic Hoffman. Penguin Audio. (ISBN 978-0-14-242856-6). Books on Tape. (ISBN 978-0-3078-7583-9).
Dominic Hoffman reads this elegiac novel of memory and redemption with fierce grace, inhabiting Mosley’s characters with voices perfectly crafted in pitch and rhythm. His rough, gravely narration manages the pace and mood of the book with astounding skill, brilliantly capturing the mental clarity and fog of 91-year-old Ptolemy Grey’s world.

Listen-Alikes:
Emily, Alone by Stewart O’Nan. Narrated by Andrea Gallo. Recorded Books.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Narrated by Jeff Woodman. Recorded Books.
Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler. Narrated by Arthur Morey. Random House Audio. Books on Tape.

Life Itself: A Memoir by Roger Ebert. Narrated by Edward Herrmann. Hachette Audio (ISBN 978-1-60941-035-3). AudioGO. (ISBN 978-1-61113-792-7).
Ebert’s clear-eyed account chronicles his life from his youth in Urbana, Illinois, to his fame as a world-renowned film critic in Chicago. Herrmann’s engaging, affable reading mirrors the author’s tone—honest, often humorous, sometimes bittersweet—as he unhurriedly ushers listeners through Ebert’s moving reflections on a life well-lived.

Listen-Alikes:
Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin. Narrated by Steve Martin. Simon & Schuster Audio. Recorded Books.
Chapters from My Autobiography by Mark Twain. Narrated by Bronson Pinchot. AudioGO.
Life by Keith Richards and James Fox. Narrated by Keith Richards, Johnny Depp, and Joe Hurley.  Hachette Audio.

Middlemarch by George Eliot. Narrated by Juliet Stevenson. NAXOS. (ISBN 978-184-379-439-4).
Juliet Stevenson brings crisp clarity, a witty sensibility, and a charming tonal quality to Eliot’s masterpiece of provincial life. Through her deft management of pacing and tone, she reveals character motivation and illuminates the many themes of the novel. But most of all she reclaims Eliot for listeners who thought they did not enjoy classics.

Listen-Alikes:
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Narrated by Lorna Raver. Blackstone Audio.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Narrated by Nadia May. Blackstone Audio.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Narrated by Josephine Bailey. Tantor Media.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig. Narrated by Kate Reading. Penguin Audio. (ISBN 978-0-14-242830-6).
In this Regency Christmas caper, a pudding, a spy, a hilarious school theatrical, and a memorable country house party lead to laughter, love, and an offer of marriage. Reading’s lovely English accent and exuberance are a perfect fit for the wide range of characters, from young girls to male teachers to members of the aristocracy.

Listen-Alikes:
The Black Cobra Quartet series by Stephanie Laurens. Narrated by Simon Prebble. Harper Audio. Blackstone Audio.
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy. Narrated by Ralph Cosham. Blackstone Audio.
The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer. Narrated by Phyllida Nash. AudioGO.

One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde. Narrated by Emily Gray. Recorded Books. (ISBN 978-1-4498-4675-6).
In this genre-bending romp, the “written” Thursday must rescue the “real” Thursday from a nefarious Bookworld plot. Emily Gray wears Thursday like a second skin, as she does the robots, dodos, and space aliens running around. The story is paced such that every nuance of pun and word play is captured and rendered aurally.

Listen-Alikes:
Blackout by Connie Willis. Narrated by Katherine Kellgren. Brilliance Audio.
The Peculiar Crimes Unit Mysteries series by Christopher Fowler. Narrated by Tim Goodman. Recorded Books/Clipper Audio.
Relative Danger by Charles Benoit. Narrated by Patrick Lawlor. Blackstone Audio.

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley. Narrated by Jayne Entwistle.  Random House Audio (ISBN 978-0-307-57643-9). Books On Tape. (ISBN 978-0-3077-0479-5).
Flavia de Luce, a terrifyingly proficient 11-year-old amateur chemist and sleuth, investigates the beating of a gypsy and the death of a villager in this third outing. Entwistle’s spot-on narration reveals the irrepressible, intrepid heroine’s prowess and captures a delicious range of secondary characters in these whimsical mysteries set in 1950s rural England.

Listen-Alikes:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Narrated by Sissy Spacek. Harper Audio/Caedmon. Recorded Books.
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessi. Narrated by Emily Janice Card. Penguin Audio. Books on Tape.
Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas. Narrated by Lorelei King. Macmillan Audio. BBC Audiobooks America.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø. Narrated by Robin Sachs. Random House Audio. (ISBN 978-0-307-91750-8). Books On Tape. (ISBN 978-0-307-91752-2).
The icy chill of the Norwegian countryside and a series of cold-blooded murders dominate this Harry Hole crime novel. Sachs contrasts Hole’s world-weary professional attitude, his unquenchable thirst for justice, and his yearning for love and comfort, as he skillfully maintains a suspenseful pace and projects an overarching sense of doom.

Listen-Alikes:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Narrated by Simon Vance. Books on Tape.
Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson. Narrated by George Guidall. Recorded Books.
Rain Gods by James Lee Burke. Narrated by Tom Stechschulte. Recorded Books.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Narrated by Simon Prebble. Blackstone Audio. (ISBN 978-1-4551-0867-1).
The tragedy and heroism of the French Revolution come alive through Prebble’s distinctive and graceful narration. As the lives of Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton intersect, Prebble takes listeners deep into France and England, narrating terrifying descriptions and breathless acts of courage with a cadence that sweeps one away.

Listen-Alikes:
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Narrated by George Guidall. Recorded Books.
Sharpe’s Fury by Bernard Cornwell. Narrated by Steven Crossley. Recorded Books.
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Narrated by Frederick Davidson. Blackstone Audio.

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht. Narrated by Susan Duerden and Robin Sachs. Random House Audio (978-0-307-87700-0). Books On Tape. (ISBN 978-0-307-87702-4).
In this imaginative novel, Balkan physician Natalia, on a mission of mercy, learns of her beloved grandfather’s death. Duerden’s mesmerizing voice leads listeners through the complexities of this rich novel with its intertwining stories, while Sachs memorably relates her grandfather’s haunting tales in a gentle and gruff voice.

Listen-Alikes:
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Narrated by Anna Fields. Harper Audio. Blackstone Audio.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Narrated by Jeff Woodman, Barbara Caruso, Richard Ferrone. Recorded Books.
Pretty Birds by Scott Simon. Narrated by Christina Moore. Recorded Books.

Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick. Narrated by Nathaniel Philbrick. Penguin Audio. (ISBN 978-1-61176-024-8). Books on Tape. (ISBN 978-0-307-96967-5)
In what should be required reading before cracking the pages of Moby-Dick, Nathaniel Philbrick’s homage to this great American novel compels the listener to experience Melville with an almost incandescent joy. His voice resonates with palpable enthusiasm and calls to mind a New England professor giving a fascinating lecture.

Listen-Alikes:
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Narrated by Frank Muller. Recorded Books.
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy. Narrated by Pat Conroy. Random House Audio. Books on Tape.
The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt. Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. Recorded Books.

One Response to “2012′s best adult audio”
  1. Audiobook Blog – Audiobooker, by Mary Burkey – Booklist Online … « mgslibrary Says:

    [...] grace, inhabiting Mosley’s characters with voices perfectly crafted in pitch and rhythm.Via audiobooker.booklistonline.com Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); [...]


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