Learning About Audiobooks – Audiobook Week Discussion

audiobook week 2013

Day 1: 2012-2013: My audiobook year
Day 2: How Do You Choose Your Audiobooks?
Day 3: Audiobook Week Mid-Week Meme
Day 4: Audiobook Tasks

Today’s prompt is:

Where do you learn about great audiobook titles?

I learn about great audiobook titles:

  • mostly through all the bloggers I follow. That’s where I know if it’s better to read a book or listen to it – Ready Player One was the best example for that
  • through Audiobook Jukebox, which posts reviews of bloggers – mine are there. A great website where you can as well receive audiobooks for free to review
  • through Jen’s Friday meme Sound Bytes: she posts an audiobook review, and you can link any audiobook review you wrote that day or that week
  • through the yearly Audiobook Challenge, hosted by Teresa

Nothing really original, I bet you are all going to mention these in your answers

Buy your audiobooks? Share your secrets with the rest of us!

First, let me say I have never bought an audiobook, and actually I extremely rarely buy any book.

I have a fantastic library, which is part of a group of about 80 libraries, and still if the book I want is not there, I can get it for free with inter-library loan, from any other library, public or even academic, in my state!

No desire or need to use audible or the like.

  • So the first place for me to find audiobooks is my public library, either on site, with books on CDs or playaways; or through the online databases, we have 2: Overdrive and OneClick Digital, which allow me to listen directly on my ipod touch. I would think by now, almost all libraries, if not all, have probably something like this available on their website.
  • I also receive audiobooks from publishers for free, for review, Bring Up The Bodies was the latest – through Audiobook Jukebox!
  • Sometimes I want to listen to classics, and there are good free services. I would recommend Librivox. You can get these books through a free app on your i-devices, I use Book Player. It has a large library included

Nothing really original here

We’d particularly love to know what narrators or publishers are active in social media or do a great job communicating with listeners.

Thanks to Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook, in the order of how much it happens for me, it has become so much easier to get in touch with authors, publishers, and narrators, and to get their prompt answer and feedback. Orlagh Cassidy (@OrlaghCassidyFN) has been great at interacting with me as a book blogger, even re-tweeting some of my tweets not directly connected with her.



What Makes a Good Narrator? – Audiobook Week Discussion

I hope you are enjoying as much as I do this super Audiobook Week!

Here is today’s question:

Who are your favorite narrators and why?
What do you look for in a narrator?
Have a preference between male or female narrators?

Alternate suggestion: Narration preferences – single narrator, multiple narrators, full cast, etc.

I actually already mentioned on Tuesday some of my favorite narrators:

Orlagh Cassidy is definitely my favorite female narrator. I discovered her in The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake. I found her so good that I listened to Before I Go To Sleep because she was the narrator! Otherwise, not even sure I would have bothered approaching this book. And this made me discover a great book! Incidentally, she got the 2011 Prize for Best Voice in Mystery And Suspense.

Orlagh Cassidy is an actress. In her narrations, she really has the skill to adapt her voice and tone of voice to different situations and moods. In Before I Go To Sleep, you could really feel Christine’s confusion not only thanks to the author’s words, but a lot thanks to Cassidy’s narration.

I have several favorite male narrators.

My latest discovery is Simon Vance, that I heard for the first time in Bring Up The Bodies. I enjoyed how he managed to express Cromwell’s cold detachment in his affairs with the Kingdom, in sending his enemies to the Tower, in always calculating to get his own advantage in anything.

Let me add another narrator I really enjoyed very much last year:

I discovered John Lee in Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett. When I started to listen to Heresy (Giordano Bruno #1), by S. J. Parris, I was thrilled to recognize right away John Lee’s voice. He is excellent for historical fiction and mystery. He varies his pace with the story, and when the suspense grows, you feel like running with him to know faster what’s going to happen next. He is as excellent in Prophecy (Giordano Bruno #2).

What do you look for in a narrator?

  1. The skill to make the book lively, by diversity of tone of voice, of pace, adjusting to the situations in the book. If the tone of voice is flat, unvaried, it creates boredom for me. Right now, I am listening to Stephen Hoye in The Garden of Beasts, and I find it a bit too even. In fact, I regret having chosen the audio format for this book. And it is not because it is a non-fiction work. Simon Winchester did a fantastic job reading his own book  Atlantic.
  2. To introduce healthy diversity as well through different foreign accents, if there are characters from different countries.
  3. To pronounce properly foreign words if there are such. For instance, I almost gave up The Night Circus. Why? Here is an excerpt of my review on the topic:
    “And right from the beginning he [Jim Dale] really got on my nerves, by pronouncing “Le cirque des rêves” inadequately. Whether you are a very famous narrator or not I don’t care, you have to do a bit of research if you have words in another language, if you work as a professional and are paid for what you do. The expression comes many times in French at least at the beginning of the book, and each time, he pronounces “cirque” with the i as in “bird”. Unfortunately, this way of pronouncing the ‘i’ is not French, so the word “cirque” should be pronounced with the “i” you use for instance in the first letter of the word “idiot”. If the author deliberately used the phrase “Le cirque des rêves”, it should then be pronounced as the French do, please.”
  4. To have a voice adapted to the characters. To go back to Jim Dale, I did not think his voice fit at all The Night Circus, in which the main characters are young people. His voice sounded much too old.
  5. In other words, a reliable voice that makes me want to keep listening.

Have a preference between male or female narrators?
Not at all. If the narrator fits into the 5 points above mentioned, it will work for me.

Interestingly enough, I am surprised sometimes when I listen to an audiobook narrated by a man to discover that the writer was actually a woman. For instance, I had no idea really who S. J. Parris was when I listened to Heresy, narrated by John Lee. And this S.J. is a woman.
Orlagh Cassidy narrates before I Go To Sleep, written by S. J. Watson, and that S. J. is a man!

But in both cases, the narrator is of the same gender as the main character. I think actually that would be an important criterion for me.

Narration preferences – single narrator, multiple narrators, full cast, etc.
If it helps to understand better the story to have multiple narrators, I appreciate it. The best most recent example for me is The Orphan Master’s Son, narrated by no less than four narrators. Each narrator presented a different perspective of the story; with only one narrator, it might have been more difficult to follow.

I think I only have one experience of a full cast, but that was for a play by Chekhov, so it really needed a full cast.

But it is also fun to witness the skills of a single narrator switching quickly between different characters, attributing a special tone and accent to each. This is exactly what Simon Vance does in Bring Up The Bodies in a prestigious way. How does he do it? How does he remember so quickly how he chose to give that tone to that character, for over 14 hours?

I would like to add another point:

Narrators for sequel:
I’m sure happy I discovered Simon Vance through Bring Up The Bodies, but as I explained in my review, I was first disappointed, because Simon Slater was Wolf Hall’s narrator, plus he was really good at it, according to my standards. When I listen to a book, I mentally associate a character to the voice of the narrator, so  then it’s like meeting an old friend who had a dramatic surgery on his/her vocal cords, and you can’t even recognize his/her former voice.
So really I much more appreciate when I can have the same narrator for all the books of a series. I do hope next installment of Giordano Bruno will still be read by John Lee.


And you can find other bloggers’ opinions
by clicking on the logo for this week

Mid-Week Meme – Audiobook Week Discussion

For today, Jen prepared a surprise, and it is a meme! We are all supposed to answer the following questions:

Current audiobook:

Narrated by Stephen Hoye


I hesitated to get to this book, as some readers were saying this was too focused on the ambassador’s daughter. I actually enjoy it very much, it’s fantastic about the historical context.

The narrator though, could be a bit more engaging. He reads with a very neutral and unchanging tone of voice, according to me, and it might be boring for some people.


Most recent favorite audiobook:

Narrated by Simon Vance

This is what I said about the narration in my review:

“A word first on the narration.

I had enjoyed a lot the voice of the narrator Simon Slater in Wolf Hall, so I was a bit hesitating, seeing that they had chosen a different narrator for the sequel Bring Up The Bodies. If you have experience with audiobooks for a series, you may have your ear accustomed to associate one character with one voice.

After my first dislike on the change, I realized how excellent Simon Vance. He’s so stunning at changing his voice for each character. There are lots of dialogs in this book, with several characters involved, and it is really incredible how the narrator can so quickly switch from one to the other, with a different voice, different tone, different accent sometimes – though I have to say I preferred how Simon Slater had represented the voice of Anne Boleyn and the French ambassador, but these are strictly personal preferences.”


Favorite narrator you’ve discovered recently:

Simon Vance, of course

Before listening to Bring Up The Bodies, I had no idea why all this hype about Simon Vance, and I am always very careful when people sound crazy about a book or a narrator.
Well, now I understand, see above comment. I saw he narrated also The Return of The Native, and I am curious to see what he did with this classic.


One title from your TBL (to be listened) stack, or your audio wishlist:

Hmm, so far, I was putting together everything in a TBR list, but thanks Jen, I have now to separate, as I know for instance that I want to listen to, and not read this one, because of the unanimous comments of my co-bloggers:

Narrated by Wil Wheaton


Your audio dream team (what book or author would you LOVE to see paired with a certain narrator, can already exist or not):

Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy

Give me this pair, and I will listen AGAIN to The Forgotten Garden!
Caroline Lee was an excellent narrator, but I would love that pair!