Audiobooks and Literacy: Invitations to Connect through Storytelling

VacationlandStorytelling is an ancient art practiced many times a day in homes and workplaces. For example, teachers guide students into lessons in lab sciences, mathematics, social studies and, of course, language arts, by asking questions that illuminate an underlying story: What happens when these two liquids are combined? What might be revealed when you multiply the two sides of this shape? What proved to be the tipping point in Alabama’s election of a Democrat to the U.S. Senate? How long did it take John Boyne to write the first draft of THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS? (Hint: two and a half days.)

Being a competent storyteller comes naturally to some people. However, to become a truly compelling one can take some coaching and modeling. And who better to learn from than audiobook narrators? They are experts in this field, deploying pacing, tone, and timbre to convey the words, but also to impart the underlying stories of character depth, historical or regional pronunciations, and which passages are most urgent for the listener to understand and take note of. Read more…

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Behind the Mic: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Join AudioFile Behind the Mic with narrator Kim Mai Guest — she talks about the fascinating characters she got to portray in FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS, an Earphones Award-winning young adult novel from Julie C. Dao.

“You travel across this magical, mythical land with these amazing characters . . . evil demons, beautiful women, thoughtful interesting emperors.”—Narrator Kim Mai Guest

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Black Detroit

Robin’s Roundup: February 2 New Audiobook Reviews

Each February we’re pleased to find a crop of new audiobooks that chronicle Black History  and celebrate lives of African Americans. Two important history titles in our reviews this week look at the city of Detroit: BLACK DETROIT: A People’s History of Self-Determination by Herb Boyd, which looks at the rich cultural tapestry of the city, and DAWN OF DETROIT: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits by Tiya Miles, professor of History and  African-American Studies at the University of Michigan. She looks at the  entwined African American and Native American communities in the 18th century. Before jumping into this 10-hour immersion, The New York Times review has some interesting background.  Read more…

Robert Fass

Take 5 with Candace: 5 Questions with Robert Fass

Today I welcome the versatile Robert Fass to the 5 Audios / 5 Questions hot seat. I say versatile not only because Robert’s audiobook catalog covers a wide range of genres but also because he’s dipped his toe into the audiobook publishing pool as well (IT HAPPENED IN BOSTON?).

Robert Fass

5 Audiobooks

One of Robert’s strengths as a narrator is creating a strong link between listeners and author, especially for nonfiction. For example, his performance of the personal essays in THE FLY TRAP highlights entomologist Fredrik Sjöberg’s personality, enthusiasm, and wry humor, making us feel as if we had just made a new friend. Robert’s delivery of Henry Fountain’s THE GREAT QUAKE, about the 9.2-magnitude 1964 Alaskan earthquake, helps us absorb the unthinkable devastation as described by eyewitnesses but wisely backs off the melodrama. Read more…

Blade of Darkness

Tease: Romance on the Edge

Equal time. In my recent posts, I’ve focused on cozy and historical romances. This time, let’s hit shuffle on the player and turn to edgy and paranormal romance. For any Twilight fans, it’s my opinion that the successful edgy romance is an experience similar to Bella’s jump off the cliff. Nothing’s held back. It’s life or death, do or die, all or nothing, Montagues or Capulets.

Blade of DarknessThese narrators are intense; they’re living the story, making it impossible to stop listening for fear of breaking the emotional experience that feels all-consuming. This type of romance can feel almost like a madness—think of Charlotte or Emily Brontë’s narratives. It’s key that the narrator places listeners at the center of the whirlwind rather than leaving us outside it, staring judgmentally at the couple, wondering, “What were you thinking?” In a romance in which it’s the couple against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the listener needs to feel at every moment that together is better than apart. Take a deep breath and dive into the addictive experience of being someone’s entire world. Read more…