Solve: A Great Reckoning

Robert Bathurst is a new voice to Louise Penny‘s series of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, but listen to the distinctive and delightful stamp he puts on the characters.

A Great Reckoning
by Louise Penny, read by Robert Bathurst
Macmillan Audio

The future of the Sûreté depends—once again—on Gamache’s ability to clean out corruption at the Academy du Quebec and to solve a mystery much closer to the village of Three Pines. Listen to a sound clip and read our full review HERE.

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Self: Making Space to Have a Life

If your life is anything like mine, you’ve probably had the experience of spending time in someone’s beautifully neat home and then returning to your own place, which, to make an unfair comparison, looks more like a construction site. I always feel good when I’m prodded for whatever reason to clean and organize my living space. It’s “show work” in psychological terms—an immediate visual reward, but too often not one that becomes part of a sustainable pattern of behavior. For me, throwing things out and properly stowing what I keep is soothing. It creates a lovely physical and mental space that promotes happiness and creative energy. But such good habits are elusive for most of us. It’s easier to do that sort of organizing on impulse than to commit to a routine that provides benefits day after day.

JUNK by Alison Stewart, read by the Author
A travelogue of observations on our overstuffed American homes.

THE JOY OF LESS by Francine Jay, read by Teri Schnaubelt
A collection of intuitive strategies for less stuff.

The Joy Of Less

UNSTUFFED by Ruth Soukup, read by Windy Lanzel
Managing overstuffed lives.


JOY ON DEMAND by Chade-Meng Tan, read by Telly Leung
A conversational guide to inner joy, and an AudioFile Earphones Award winner.

Joy On Demand

THE MORE OF LESS by Joshua Becker, read by the Author
A handbook for getting rid of the stuff that keeps you from pursuing your dreams.

The More Of Less

Many of the audios we highlight here help us accept the reality that clutter is truly the common cold of American life and that dealing with it is not a one-time project. For you, me, and everybody, it’s a mental commitment to minimize what we bring home in the first place and put away the things we already have—every day. Over the hours we allow these audios into our lives, they help us develop that commitment because they grab and hold our attention with the primitive power of the human voice. Combined with the emotional sensibilities and thinking of these authors, the narrators’ performances create the connection we need to be uncomfortable with the status quo and more optimistic about our capacity to do what we say we want to do.

This Learning by Ear has been edited from its original longer form in the print issue of AudioFile Magazine, August/September 2016.

September: Listen to Learn

We listen and learn in pretty much every month of the year, but this September AudioFile is focusing our recommendations and posts on the personal growth, business, and inspirational titles that give us useful, accessible advice and help us learn.

September always seems like a great month for optimism, and many of the audiobook titles we love reflect the possibilities of personal change and new ideas and perspectives. Here are some AudioFile staff favorites:

From Editor-in-Chief, Robin Whitten: SMALL IS THE NEW BIG by Seth Godin

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin and usually listen to most of his titles. A title that inspired me —10 years ago—to keep plugging away with the magazine is SMALL IS THE NEW BIG.

Small Is The New Big

From Contributing Editor, Priscilla Grant:  QUIET by Susan Cain & YEAR OF YES  by Shonda Rhimes

Are you an introvert? I found inspiration and insight in these two very different listens: Kathe Mazur’s skillful reading of Susan Cain’s QUIET, and Shonda Rimes’s lively telling of her own YEAR OF YES. My conclusion: Love your shy self…and get out there and dance!

Year Of Yes

From Associate Editor, Leslie Dillon: THE ART OF PEOPLE by Dave Kerpen

Dave is approachable, entertaining, and informative in this. I laughed out loud as I listened to it on a flight and even tweeted him about it. He tweeted back, proving his points; truly a new HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE.

The Art Of People

From AudioFile Reviewer, Miriam Kahn:  THE INVISIBLE EMPLOYEE by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton

I listened to and reviewed THE INVISIBLE EMPLOYEE  years ago, but it stays with me today. The magic words are “Please” and “Thank You.” That’s all it takes, along with positive feedback. I truly learned that the phrase “no news is good news” is the worst way to manage and work with others.

The Invisible Employee

From Publisher, Michele Cobb: EAT THAT FROG by Brian Tracy

As someone who loves to do the “frog” tasks first, I always liked this one.

Eat That Frog

From AudioFile Reviewer, Lance Eaton: SMALL BIG: Small Changes That Spark Big Influence by Steve J. Martin, Noah Goldstein & Robert Cialdini

The authors provide great ideas on how to ethically incite change in people, and they ground their ideas in a variety of research.

The Small Big

From Contributing Editor, Francisca Goldsmith: ON WRITING by Stephen King & HOW TO BAKE PI by Eugenia Cheng

These are two learning audios I hold in esteem.

How To Bake Pi

In addition to a month-long focus on recommendations, we’ll be launching Self: Choices for Mind, Body, and Soul here on the blog. Contributing Editor Thomas Walken’s “Learning By Ear” column has been a mainstay in our print editions for years, and now it will be available to our blog readers as well. Stay tuned tomorrow for “Making Space to Have a Life.”

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In the Studio: American Gods

Neil Gaiman and an ensemble of talented narrators created the full-cast audiobook production of AMERICAN GODS.

American Gods
AMERICAN GODS, 10th Anniversary Edition with Full Cast
Listen to a sound clip

Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS is headed to the small screen with an all-star cast, but lucky listeners already have two wonderful versions of the audiobook that they can listen to. In 2011, AudioFile Magazine spoke with Harper Audio executive producer Karen Dziekonski and producer/director Paula Parker about the 10th-anniversary full-cast production of Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS.

AF: How did the idea of a new, full-cast recording come about?

KD: Neil Gaiman proposed the idea of a full-cast recording after he and two others performed a section of the book in front of a live audience. He thought it really worked, and we loved the idea right away. Over the years, Harper Audio has produced many Neil Gaiman audiobooks. Each production was special—in terms of use of music, or Neil’s involvement as narrator—really fun and rewarding because of Neil’s support of the audio format. This production of AMERICAN GODS would take our long collaboration with Neil to a new level. We saw it as great creative challenge and a wonderful way to commemorate the 10th anniversary.

Neil GaimanNeil Gaiman in the recording studio

AF: How much was author Neil Gaiman involved in the process, aside from the parts he narrated himself? What was the casting process like?

PP: Neil had some wonderful narrators in mind: Ron McLarty, Anne Bobby, and Sarah Jones. We submitted voice samples for other roles such as Shadow and the narrator, from which Neil selected Dan Oreskes and Dennis Boutsikaris—both experienced and talented narrators. The rest of the cast—most having to play at least six different roles—were chosen for their versatility and vocal quality. The cast included 20 actors. We all had enormous respect for Neil and wanted this recording to honor his special voice.

AF: Did any of the narrators record in the studio together, or was it all put together post-recording? How did that work?

PP: Each narrator’s part was recorded separately. However, we meticulously matched the actors’ performances by focusing on the intention of the scene and always listening back to what the previous actor had recorded. I worked closely with the engineer—editing and using very precise script markings as a road map for our post-production team—to ensure that performances sounded as though they were recorded with everyone present.

AF: Were there any particular challenges in putting together this full-cast recording?

PP: This 20-hour, 20-actor audiobook’s biggest challenge was to ensure that small errors didn’t undermine the larger effort. For example, during pre-production, I made certain that each character and each line was accounted for. Otherwise, we could have been bringing actors back three or four times for missed lines. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Only a small number of pickups and rerecords were necessary.

AF: Anything else you’d like to share with us about the process of recording and producing AMERICAN GODS?

PP: The team effort behind this production made this massive recording enjoyable and creatively rewarding. I’d like to thank Neil for trusting us to bring his incredible characters and narrative to life, HarperCollins for giving us the opportunity to produce it, the “best there is” production team at John Marshall Media, and last but not least, the actors who delivered their performance heart and soul to this audio program.

Tease: Bay of Sighs

Listeners will be drawn into Nora Roberts‘s Guardians Trilogy with book two in the series, BAY OF SIGHS, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld, who also performed STARS OF FORTUNE.

Bay of Sighs

by Nora Roberts, read by Saskia Maarleveld
Brilliance Audio

Six diverse characters are on a quest to find the stars of fortune before an evil goddess finds them. BAY OF SIGHS takes place on the island of Capri and focuses on the romance between Annika, the mermaid, and Sawyer, a traveler.

The Greek island of Corfu is the setting for STARS OF FORTUNE. Maarleveld keeps listeners on the edge of their seats.

Stars of Fortune
by Nora Roberts, Read by Saskia Maarleveld
Brilliance Audio

And if you’re hooked, the final title in the trilogy, ISLAND OF GLASS —also narrated by Saskia — comes out in December 2016.

Ever wonder what it would be like to narrate a Nora Roberts audiobook? See what Shannon McManus, the narrator of THE OBSESSION, has to say here!

Want to be sure you’re hooked on your next audiobook?
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