7 (and more) Great Audiobooks About the Civil War

Aurelia Recommends Listens That’ll Bridge the Mason-Dixon Line

The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of CourageJuly 1st is the anniversary of the start of the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. On my first visit to the battlefield, which is one of the country’s top summer travel sites, I got lost in the woods near Little Round Top. Though I soon found the path, my panicked stomach-flop brought to mind terrified Henry Fleming in Stephen Crane’s THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, that archetypal novel about fear and heroism in the midst of a maelstrom. If you, like I, read it in school eons ago, it’s worth revisiting as we approach the anniversary of the decisive battle, and of a war whose wounds persist. Of all the versions, I recommend the re-release of Frank Muller’s performance. His reading is as marvelous as the war was devastating. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Run Like a Duck

Aurelia Recommends 4 Audiobooks to Get You Moving

Aurelia listening on the PromNow that it’s all but officially summer,  joggers are loping along our city streets. My own running skills are best described by telling you that in 7th grade, I was panting on the far side of the field when our coach Mrs. Potter shouted, “Aurelia, stop running like a duck. You look ridiculous.” Now I walk instead of gasping for breath, and I enjoy other people’s athleticism in audiobooks about running, such as the Tarahumara profiled in Christopher McDougall’s BORN TO RUN: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. His quest to understand running took him to people who can trot effortlessly for hours in Mexico’s Copper Canyon mountains. Listening to Fred Sanders’s warm rendition of this perennial bestseller, I reveled in McDougall’s wild adventure, started eating chia seeds, and even started to embrace my duck steps and jog occasionally mid-walk. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

They Do What!?

The Secret Lives of Four Audie Award Nominees

Lorelei King

If I said that a much lauded, respected, and beloved narrator was once put to work cleaning toilets in an Athens youth hostel, would you guess it was Lorelei King, John Lee, Davina Porter, or Scott Brick?

SpellmongerOn the eve of the Audie Awards, I thought I’d share some unexpected facts about four of this year’s nominees. Particulars that their normal bio might not reveal. So, back to the youth hostel’s toilets. What if I add that the aforementioned narrator also likes to “contemplate a historic marker in my hometown that memorializes the place where plastic was invented”? Before you do an Internet search, I’ll hint that this person previously won an Audie Award for THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, which required over forty hours of narration, and is the voice of Philip Kerr’s iconic Bernie Gunther suspense series, of which the latest is GREEKS BEARING GIFTS.

Yes, it’s true. Golden voiced John Lee, nominated this year for SPELLMONGER, Book 1 of Terry Mancour’s fantasy series, knows the backside of a Greek youth hostel. Let’s just hope he also got to see the Parthenon. Lee also once worked the night shift at a razor-blade factory, which he says makes him feel lucky for every moment in the recording booth. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Let’s Flip Jane on Her Head

Six Austen-Inspired Audiobooks and One Perfume

Jane Austen photograph

See the yellowed pages in my copy of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE?  That’s to prove that I am a true Janeite.

Bona fides established, let me tell you about the literary mashup PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, by Seth Grahame-Smith, in which the basic P&P plot line and tone are intercut with zombies roaming the 19th-century English countryside. Yes, Jane and zombies are ridiculous, but I listened during one of those complicated family summers, and its occasionally gruesome silliness was a magic diversion.  Author Steve Hockensmith has written two subsequent mashups of the mashup, which are also crazy funny: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: DAWN OF THE DREADFULS and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: DREADFULLY EVER AFTER. Most importantly for us, all three were narrated by the amazing Katy Kellgren, who won an Earphones Award for the second volume.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Longbourn
Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Four Reasons Writers Should Love Narrators

Hint: Narrators can make amazing books even better

Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall
Bring Up The Bodies

Hilary Mantel’s historical novels about Henry the Eighth’s chief fixer Thomas Cromwell, WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES, may have been hugely popular, but I never made far into either tome. Judge me if you will, but the long, phrase-filled sentences and constant present tense put me off. Then I turned to the audiobooks, and sure enough, narrators Simon Slater (WOLF HALL) and Simon Vance (BRING UP THE BODIES) captured me immediately. The expressiveness of their voices, scenic pacing, and vivid vocal portraits welcomed me into Mantel’s blend of prodigious fact and colorful imagination. Thanks to Slater and Vance, each of whom won an Earphones Award for their performances, I read two books I loved, and Mantel gained a fan. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Get It Together

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Five Audiobooks that Will Put Your Life in Order

Spark Joy

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpSo how did your tax preparation go this year? Personally, I only cursed twice. First when I dropped the file of medical receipts. Second when I learned that despite what my husband and I had spent on doctors, it wasn’t enough to be deductible. I discovered that after adding it all up on a recalcitrant calculator.

That’s when, inspired by Marie Kondo’s runaway bestseller, THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP, I shredded those useless receipts and resolved next year to keep only that which I truly need (in one pouch as she does). Emily Woo Zeller’s Earphones Award performance makes Kondo’s quirky, precise guide to living tidily endearing as well as helpful. (Watch Zeller’s delightful Behind the Mic chat about narrating the book – she too folds her shirts differently!)  Her friendly tone warms the exacting tea-ceremony aspect of Kondo’s approach and animates her appealing eccentricities, such as thanking her possessions. Then again, who’s calling whom eccentric?  I’ve always talked to my stuff. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

4 Audiobooks in Which Miracles Might be Possible

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Do You Believe?

Galore

GaloreI don’t come from a religious family, but during this week between the Roman and Orthodox Easters, I’m reminded of my one experience of church on Easter Sunday. In the children’s group, we discussed the resurrection of Jesus; hunted for chocolate eggs and jellybeans; patted visiting bunnies; and sang Puff the Magic Dragon. I embraced it all.

I’m still comforted by the possibility of miracles and magic, which is why I recommend GALORE, Michael Crummey’s allegorical saga about a man found inside a whale and the effect he has on generations of 19thcentury Newfoundland villagers. Not Jonah exactly, but close enough to be a story for the ages. It’s narrated by John Lee, whose warm embrace of a voice radiates wonder and seeps into your very marrow. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Hit the Road

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Matching audiobooks to the drive improves the scenery

Last Bus to Wisdom

Last Bus to WisdomMy husband Bob and I recently drove from Maine to California and back just to listen to audiobooks. Okay, we also wanted to escape winter in the 23rd state. However we played lots of audiobooks along the way, choosing ones set more or less where we were going. Call them road-trip audiobooks.  That’s how we took the LAST BUS TO WISDOM, Ivan Doig’s heartfelt, comic paean to lighting out. Across the Great Plains we went with 12-year-old Donal, 70-something Herman-the-German, and the amazing narrator, Aaron David Baker. They rode the Dog Bus — think now, what bus line’s emblem is a hound? — while we drove a Subaru. But with a master author and narrator to guide us, we found wide-open spaces and quirky, worthwhile Americans. We survived robbery (Donal and Herman) and a blizzard on Donner Pass (Bob and me). And we replaced several meals with chocolate bars. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Before the Pulitzer Prize

Great Early Audiobooks from Famous Award Winners

Sag Harbor

I spent years believing, or was it hoping, that I was too special to read books found on bestseller lists. Then I became a writer. Now I’m grateful for readers. And I applaud those who turn a book, any book, into a bestseller. Way to go, readers! But it still makes me feel special, even astonishingly brilliant, to have savored a writer’s work before they became famous. Thus I offer five fine audiobooks by some of my favorite authors, written before they won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Underground Railroad
Sag Harbor

Colson Whitehead, for example, whose wondrous and experimental THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, took the 2017 award and rightly blew everyone away, including our reviewer, who turned cartwheels over Bahni Turpin’s performance. Well before that, Whitehead wrote the more straightforward SAG HARBOR, given an Earphones Award winning performance by Mirron Willis. It’s a funny, often entrancing coming-of-age memoir cast as a novel about a 15-year-old boy during one special summer in a Sag Harbor neighborhood where black families owned the beach houses. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: My Frozen Toes

Audiobooks About Winter’s Joys and Terrors

Speed Kings

Speed KingsWhat I remember most about my childhood attempt to ski is cold feet. Mine were so painful that I whimpered. That’s why, after one frozen season on the slopes, and several ineffectual years trying to be Peggy-Fleming-figure-skating’s-darling, I designated winter as my spectator season. Thus the current Winter Olympics suit me perfectly. I can admire the athleticism free from the urge to try it myself.

Take bobsledding, which bears no resemblance to my start-and-stop progress down Heaton Hall Hill on a Flexible Flyer at age twelve. Instead, teams of two or four fling themselves onto a super-fast sled in order to plummet down a twisting ice-chute. Insane. Yet the sport is huge fun to watch, and in Eric Meyers’s gripping narration of SPEED KINGS: The 1932 Winter Olympics and the Fastest Men in the World by Andy Bull, vicariously thrilling. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.