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A Mind At Play

Behind the Mic: A Mind At Play

Jonathan Yen takes AudioFile readers Behind the Mic to hear more on his narration of A MIND AT PLAY, a new biography of the father of the Information Age, Claude Shannon.

“This guy was a genius, bonafide, MIT, the whole deal, but he had this wicked sense of humor, this tremendous sense of fun.”—Narrator Jonathan Yen

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Electric October

Robin’s Roundup: November 3 New Audiobook Reviews

Electric OctoberBaseball season may be over with the conclusion of the World Series, but it’s not too late to extend the season if you love baseball history. Joe Barrett’s snappy narration of ELECTRIC OCTOBER is perfect for stories from the Golden Age of Baseball. And—enjoy hearing the players’ names: Cookie Lavagetto, Burt Shotton, Snuffy Stirnweiss, and Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish (really!). Names are just not what they used to be!

With holiday travel coming up when many families will be hitting the road, now is a perfect time to plan your “are we there yet?” listening stash.

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The Testament of Mary

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: The Stars are Out Tonight

Asked to read a telephone book, Meryl Streep could find subtext even in the X’s. Hand her a novel and she’s la crème de la crème. That cannot be said about most celebrities who’ve narrated audiobooks. Unfortunately, mega stardom doesn’t guarantee a mega audiobook performance. So let’s celebrate three stage and screen superstars who also are able to deliver splendid listening.

The Testament of Mary

Streep can do serious, as evidenced by her performance of Colm Tóibín’s THE TESTAMENT OF MARY — a blazing commentary by the mother of Jesus on her son’s fate. She channels Mary, making the audiobook one for every faith or none. It’s a performance of a lifetime that I’ve pressed on many who weren’t sure and who came away convinced. Streep can also do funny, and her comedic timing is beautifully displayed in Nora Ephron’s fictionalized memoir, HEARTBURN. Both performances won Earphones Awards. Then there are her characterizations, vividly apparent in several narrations for children. For the kids in your life, or just for yourself, listen and savor THE VELVETEEN RABBIT, or three stories in an audio collection called RABBIT EARS STORIES BY BEATRIX POTTER. Rarely has Peter Rabbit sounded so inveterately tempted by Mr. MacGregor’s garden. Read more…

Grant

Behind the Mic: Grant

When we go Behind the Mic with a narrator, we always learn something. Today with Mark Bramhall, we get some perspective on his epic narration of GRANTRon Chernow’s biography of Ulysses S. Grant.

“To know . . . the story of the Civil War and Reconstruction is to arm yourself with something I think is quite necessary these days. Turned out to be a good thing—a book that not only intrigues, but matters.”—Narrator Mark Bramhall

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Craig Johnson - Wait for Signs

Solve: Crime in Small Bites

When I tell people how much I enjoy listening to audiobooks, I often receive the response, “I can’t listen to audiobooks. I can’t pay attention.” I thought the very same thing at one time. Now I constantly want someone to be telling me a story.

Craig Johnson - Wait for Signs

Listening to audiobooks is a skill, just like reading print books. Even though we eagerly listened to adults telling us stories as small children, somewhere along the way, we lost the knack for listening—personally, I blame it on television, but that’s a different blog post. Never fear, though. Listening skills can be dusted off and honed back into shape. One of the ways I recommend people work on their listening skills is with short audios, and lucky for us, there are great short works of crime fiction available.

About once a year now, I listen to Craig Johnson’s WAIT FOR SIGNS. This collection of Walt Longmire shorts is described by Johnson as the stories between the novels. He develops his well-loved characters in funny, heart-warming, and engaging short stories. It’s probably my favorite collection to recommend to someone just starting to listen to audiobooks. I often recommend it as the introduction to the Longmire series as well. When you’re confident listening to these short stories, you can move on to his novellas—THE HIGHWAYMAN and SPIRIT OF STEAMBOAT. Same great style, in a slightly longer format. By the time you finish these two, you’ll be ready to listen to the novels. All of Johnson’s work is narrated by George Guidall. There hasn’t been one time I’ve attended a book event for Craig Johnson when at least one member of the audience hasn’t gushed about how much they love the series on audio. There’s a good reason for that. Read more…