Self: Writers on Writing for Writers

If you’ve been aching to write a novel, poem, memoir, or perhaps a thriller about killing off your least favorite relative – aren’t we all? – now’s a good time to rush out for the newest book by Colum McCann, author of LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN. His LETTERS TO A YOUNG WRITER is full of lovely advice to readers and writers of all ages and ambitions, and it’s read by the master himself. His narration lends a personable voice to his warm words of advice for budding writers, and he reads and writes with humility, charm, and earnest good intention.

Letters to a Young Writer

LETTERS TO A YOUNG WRITER: Some Practical and Philosophical Advice
By Colum McCann, Read by Colum McCann
Random House Audio

While we’re on the topic of writers who’ve written about writing, the eighty percent of Americans who’d love to publish something – anything! – have even more listening possibilities. McCann is one of many authors who’ve offered pithy advice, and better yet, narrated the resulting audiobook. Here are a few of our favorites.

ON WRITING: A Memoir of the Craft
By Stephen King, Read by Stephen King
Simon & Schuster Audio
With this indispensable book, the king of bestsellers intended to put down his thoughts on writing. After explaining what’s important (including good grammar), the celebrated author says to get down to the business – as he has for the last forty-odd years.

By Natalie Goldberg, Read by Natalie Goldberg
Sounds True
From the first moments of this classic work on writing and life, listeners know they are hearing something wonderful. Everything is read in what Goldberg calls her “New York Jewish voice” and is suffused with her quirky, delightful sense of humor. Learn more about Goldberg’s experience recording WRITING DOWN THE BONES in our interview with her!
And we don’t want to forget the audio program of one of Natalie’s workshops, THE ART OF WRITING MEMOIR.

By Anne Lamott, Read by Anne Lamott
Writer’s AudioShop
If you’re a writer, you need this audiobook. The sound of Lamott’s voice will cheer you on in your darkest hours. As our reviewer put it, “she’s the real thing–a successful writer–and she shares invaluable nuggets of wisdom about writing and the writing life.”

Looking to sample some of the best writing these authors have to offer? Come to our site for more reviews of titles by McCann, King, Goldberg, and Lamott!

Tease: Love Your Lists

I’ve had lists on the brain lately. The faster life spins, the more I treat my to-do list as a lifeline. And the publishing industry is all about lists. Each year, I wait impatiently for the Audies finalist lists in the Romance and Erotica categories for must-listen titles and noteworthy narrators. 

Perhaps most importantly, a bunch of us at AudioFile had an insider discussion on lists and listicles and why they are addictive clickbait. For confused readers, a listicle is an article created in list format. How many times have you seen an irresistible tagline like 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances (in this case, from NPR) and been compelled to pore over the list items and count the titles you know, deciding if the list is flawed or if your score adequately represents your commitment to the genre? I’m going to resist the urge to title this post “Three romance audiobooks that will change your life,”  but hey, you never know . . .

Night Prince, Book 4
by Jeaniene Frost, Read by Tavia Gilbert
Harper Audio
I’ve been wanting to spotlight a Tavia Gilbert narration for some time—lucky for you, it’s a paranormal with tons of action and humor by the incomparable Jeaniene Frost. Don’t miss this series!

Ghostwalkers, Book 13
by Christine Feehan, Read by Jim Frangione
Recorded Books
At the risk of being redundant, I cannot recommend this narrator/author duo highly enough. Feehan loves her alpha males, and Frangione holds nothing back as he brings their power plays to life.

Out of Uniform, Book 1
by Annabeth Albert, Read by Tyler Stevens
Harlequin Audio
Narrator Tyler Stevens was new to me, and this is a great introduction to his work. Going from sensitive to strong, he hits all the right notes as hot Navy Seal Zack finally gives in to his attraction to his flirtatious roommate, Pike.

More new romance reviews can be found on our website here!

Solve: The mystery of the missing cozies

Precious and GraceRecently I’ve had a couple of different reasons to try to find recommendations for softer crime audiobooks, and I’ve discovered it rather challenging. Are you a cozy or traditional mystery fan who has a difficult time finding the books you want on audio? Is the audio publishing industry missing an untapped well here? I decided to do a little digging, this time making note of my findings.

A friend has an elderly mother she wants to ply with audiobooks. Her mother’s vision is too bad to read print books now. She told me her mother would like mysteries but they needed to be on the “nicer side.” In other words, no graphic violence or sex, easy on the language— basically your cozy subgenre.

Silver Lies

My usual reaction is to recommend Louise Penny’s Three Pines series, Chris Grabenstein’s John Ceepak series, or Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series. These aren’t cozies; they’re traditional mysteries, but they are on the softer side. That bit me in the butt the last time I did it because while they are tamer when it comes to sex and violence, the language is still an issue. Recommendation: fail. Back to the drawing board.

A hot series now in the mystery community is Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver historicals, but I couldn’t find any sign of those on audiobook. David Handler’s Berger & Mitry series is one I’ve wanted to read for some time, but hoped to find the audios so I could listen instead. I can’t find any of that series on audio either. (You can, however, get his older Stewart Hoag series on audiobook.) Rochelle Staab? No. Gabriella Herkert? Not her either. No Rosemary Harris, Meredith Cole, Jeff Cohen, or Cathy Pickens. (Note, you can find Jeff Cohen writing as E.J. Copperman.)

A Murder of MagpiesI found some incomplete series like Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen mysteries, Bill Crider’s Sheriff Dan Rhodes mysteries, and Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia Grey mysteries. But it’s frustrating to get caught up in a series only to find books missing.

So what recommendations have I come up with so far? If you like a good P.I., how about checking out Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency? Lisette Lecat performs the entire series. Is western more your speed? Steve Hockensmith’s Holmes on the Range series, narrated by William Dufris, is great fun. I would like to see Hockensmith’s new Tarot Mystery series narrated, though. Looking for something more historical? How about Ann Parker’s Silver Rush series, read by Kristen Potter? In the more paranormal realm, maybe try Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mysteries or Haunted Home Renovation series. Both are performed by Xe Sands.
And I’m hoping you all can help us compile a good list of amateur sleuths in the comments, but one I personally enjoy is Judith Flanders’s Sam Clair.

World's Greatest Sleuth

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite cozy mystery on audiobook? And what’s one you’d love to see become available on audio that currently isn’t – or maybe it’s only available on good old cassette tape. Have you run into any of those? Let us know!



Behind the Mic: Hoodoo

AudioFile went Behind the Mic to talk with narrator Ron Butler about the ‘magic’ of his performance of HOODOO by Ronald L. Smith. Magic indeed, you’ll come under Ron’s spell to seek out this audiobook.

“Hoodoo, the 12-year-old boy has so much heart—a huge heart—the heart of a poet.”—Narrator Ron Butler

by Ronald L. Smith, read by Ron Butler
AudioFile Earphones Award
2016 Coretta Scott King Award

We loved the way the author weaves together the 1930’s small-town Alabama, Hoodoo’s magical family and the spooky Southern Gothic atmosphere. Narrator Ron Butler pulls in listeners immersing them in this great family listen. Listen to a sound clip and read AudioFile’s full review here.

HOODOO is featured in our 20 Exceptional Audiobooks to Kickstart Your Family Listening, and is part of AudioFile’s comprehensive Kids & Teens Listening lists.

20 Exceptional Audiobooks to Kick-start Your Family Listening

Audiobooks and kids make a great match. Intimate and exciting performances from dynamic voices can help bring the stories to life in new ways. We’ve made some great matches for you, pairing up newer titles along with well-loved classics that all share a similar theme or idea.

There are misfit girls, journeys to self-discovery, battles against injustice, and opportunities to learn about cultures and experiences that may be different from our own. There’s sure to be something that will appeal to every young listener in your life—and will be fun for you to listen to right along with them!

Fantastic Worlds

by Lewis Carroll, read by Jim Dale
Listening Library

If you like Wonderland, you might like . . .

by Bruce Coville, read by Matthew Frow, Jeremy Gumbs, and a Full Cast

Listening Library, Ages 8+

by Diane Zahler, read by Tavia Gilbert, Michael Crouch, and a Full Cast
Live Oak Media, Ages 8+

by Rick Riordan, read by Robbie Daymond
Listening Library, Ages 10+

Other Times & Cultures
When the Sea Turned to Silver

by Grace Lin, read by Kim Mai Guest,
Hachette Audio, Ages 8+

If you like learning about cultures from around the world, you might like . . .

by Nadia Hashimi, read by Ariana Delawari

Harper Audio, Ages 8+

by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Shane W. Evans, read by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Hachette Audio, Ages 8+

by H.M. Bouwman, read by Bahni Turpin

Listening Library, Ages 8+

The Battle Against Injustice
The Giver

by Lois Lowry, read by Ron Rifkin,
Listening Library, Ages 12+

If you liked uncovering the world of THE GIVER, you might like . . .

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, read by Carolyn McCormick
Scholastic Audiobooks, Ages 12+


by Kelly Barnhill, read by Christina Moore
Recorded Books, Ages 10+

by Adam Gidwitz, read by Adam Gidwitz, Vikas Adam, Mark Bramhall, Jonathan Cowley , Kimberly Farr, Ann Marie Lee, Bruce Mann, John H. Mayer, Benjamin Bagby, Arthur Morey
Listening Library, Ages 10+

Discovering the Magic Within
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale
Listening Library, Ages 8+

If you wish you could learn at Hogwarts, you might like one of these . . .

by Philip Pullman, read by a Full Cast

Listening Library, Ages 12+

by Karen Cushman, read by Katherine Kellgren
Recorded Books, Ages 10+

by Ronald L. Smith, read by Ron Butler
Dreamscape, Ages 10+
Keep your eye out for our Behind the Mic visit with narrator Ron Butler!

Family & Community
Because of Winn-Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo, read by Cherry Jones
Listening Library, Ages 8+

If you shared Opal’s family with yours, you might like . . .

by Jacqueline Kelly, read by Natalie Ross,
Brilliance Audio, Ages 12+

by Matt de la Peña, read by Lizan Mitchell,
Recorded Books, Ages 4-6

by Jacqueline Woodson, read by Jacqueline Woodson,
Listening Library, Ages 10+

What audiobooks have you listened to with your kids that you would recommend for someone who loves Harry Potter? What audiobook have they loved that helped teach them more about valuing family and community? Share your favorites in the comments!

Find more great audiobooks here, Audiobooks for Kids & Teens. AudioFile’s dynamic lists come complete with with age ranges.