It’s no secret that behind every great audiobook, there’s a fabulous narrator. AudioFile takes you behind the scenes and into the homes—and recording booths—of some of our favorite narrators to hear their takes on the audiobooks they’re recording. Find new narrator videos each Saturday, and discover your next great listen!
An audiobook best appreciated by knowing very little about the plot before starting
AudioFile goes Behind the Mic with Michael Urie as he tells us more about LILY AND THE OCTOPUS. We love Michael’s clear connection to this audiobook. Listeners need know only that Steven Rowley’s debut is a beautiful love story.
“Steven Rowley has created something so true, so real.”—Michael Urie
LILY AND THE OCTOPUS
by Steven Rowley, read by Michael Urie
Simon & Schuster Audio
Earphones Award Winner
We loved the title (and jacket art) even before we heard Michael Urie’s performance. Now that we have, we want to share Michael’s heartfelt comments and his brilliant connection to the performance. You can also listen to a sound clip and read our full review here.
A sweeping history of the Arab peoples and nations
Narrator Derek Perkins always brings a fluency and engagement to even the most challenging titles and subjects, including history. Derek goes Behind the Mic for AudioFile and gives us some insight into his preparation for Eugene Rogan’s THE ARABS.
“Much of Professor Rogan’s history—which goes from the 16th century to today—is from the Arab perspective.”— Derek Perkins
by Eugene Rogan, read by Derek Perkins
Earphones Award Winner
When our reviewer says that a history is “as dramatic and fraught as any novel,” we know that is accessible listening. Listen to a sound sample of Derek’s well-researched pronunciations from THE ARABS, here.
Find out more about Derek and the audiobooks he’s narrated here.
Why is this audiobook creating conversation around the world?
Do the things around you bring you joy? Find the secret, and the method behind making it so—listen to THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP. Narrator Emily Woo Zeller goes Behind the Mic with AudioFile to share one of the unexpected pleasures of having narrated Marie Kondo’s audiobook.
“A wonderful book that affected me personally—I still fold my clothes differently.”—Narrator Emily Woo Zeller
Narrator Emily Woo Zeller captures the voice of author Marie Kondo so perfectly that it’s as if the Japanese de-cluttering guru is speaking in person. Discussing the Japanese art of organizing is a fascinating listen and fun to talk about with friends. Listen to a sound clip and read our full review here.
Narrator Kirsten Potter speaks to us from her backstage dressing room as AudioFile goes Behind the Mic to hear more about her audiobook performance of Anne Tyler’s VINEGAR GIRL.
“There’s Russian scientists and acerbic modern women . . . it’s remarkably universal in how quirky they are.”
by Anne Tyler, read by Kirsten Potter
Random House Audio
From BREATHING LESSONS to A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD readers—and listeners—of Anne Tyler’s novels always follow her work closely. Her retelling of Shakespeare’s THE TAMING OF THE SHREW for the Hogarth Shakespeare Series will keep fans listening. Kirsten Potter brings alive this thoroughly contemporary sharp-tongued Kate.
For more about Kirsten and the audiobooks she’s narrated, click here.
“These kids are like a lot of kids in grade school who deal with bullies, insecurities, and trying to fit in.”— Josh Hurley
SAVE ME A SEAT
by Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan, read by Vikas Adam & Josh Hurley
Earphones Award Winner
Two fifth-grade boys, Ravi and Joe, come from very different places. Ravi is newly immigrated from India, and Joe is dealing with learning challenges. Using two narrators is the perfect way to deliver this story, and Vikas Adam and Josh Hurley bring every moment to listeners with clear connection and involvement. Listen to a sound clip and read our full review here.
Much of Muhammad Ali’s humanitarian work went unheralded, and you’ve probably never heard this story
In an exclusive extra, AudioFile reviewer Mike Sangiacomo tells us about meeting Muhammad Ali—in Baghdad—in 1990.
I spent some time with Muhammad Ali in the most unlikely place: Baghdad in late 1990, just weeks before the U.S. and its allies bombed it in Desert Storm. I was there on assignment from my newspaper, THE PLAIN DEALER, and he was there to get hostages released. Both of us were there against the wishes of the U.S. Government, to say the least.
Ali’s mission to Baghdad was largely unreported at the time, but the story leaked out a few times over the years.
As a world-renowned Muslim, Ali was welcomed in the city of Bagdad, and through his power of persuasion, he was able to leave with 15 American hostages. You probably never heard about it—the story was kept quiet, though I reported it in my newspaper. My group was invited to spend some time with Ali in his room at the Al Rashid Hotel. When we got there, Ali was lying down on the bed. He looked drawn and tired—his Parkinson’s disease was taking its toll. His schedule in Baghdad was exhausting. When he was not in talks with leaders, he was entertaining Iraqi children, who followed him everywhere.
He sat up in his bed, half-clothed, and asked us to wait in the seating area of his room. I remember watching him struggle to stand up, a shadow of his former self. But when he emerged minutes later, he looked like a new man. He had put on a blue suit, white shirt, and a tie, in deference to his visitors. He could only speak in a whisper, his voice exhausted from days of negotiations. Amid the small talk and stories I have long forgotten, Ali asked to keep his private talks with Saddam Hussein a secret, at least until the hostages were released.
“We admire the man who has never stopped using his celebrity for good- the man who helped secure the release of 14 American hostages from Iraq in 1900,” Obama was quoted in USA Today. With all due respect to Mr. Obama, it was 15. I counted.
Ali surprised our group by asking if we wanted to see some magic tricks, something he also performed for the other “guests” (Iraqi code for hostages) in the hotel lobby. He even did his levitation trick. Ali’s mission to Baghdad was largely unreported at the time, but the story leaked out a few times over the years. George Bush and subsequent presidents ignored it until President Barack Obama talked about it this year after Ali’s death on June 3. “We admire the man who has never stopped using his celebrity for good—the man who helped secure the release of 14 American hostages from Iraq in 1990,” Obama was quoted in USA Today. And, with all due respect to Mr. Obama, it was 15. I counted.
In addition to sharing this story, Mike listened to Ali’s autobiography, THE GREATEST: MY OWN STORY for us and wrote, “It’s uncanny how much narrator Dion Graham sounds like Ali”. You can read Mike’s full review and listen to a sound clip here or check out what Dion had to say about recording Ali’s story below!
Pitching against major leaguers comes alive in this first-person account
Narrator Robert Fass takes AudioFile listeners Behind the Mic and tells us about bringing alive the baseball classic, OUT OF MY LEAGUE, when George Plimpton went behind the professional baseball pitching mounds.
“I was a big fan of Plimpton’s exploits growing up and I read OUT OF MY LEAGUE as a teenage baseball fan.” -Robert Fass
We knew the new audiobook releases of George Plimpton’s journalistic participatory forays into professional sports would make great listening. Baseball fan Robert Fass is the perfect choice for OUT OF MY LEAGUE. Listen to a sound clip and read our full review here.
This multi-generational tale full of loves and tragedies, lore and history attracted our attention early, and we echo Edoardo’s comments on the lasting effect of the story. His astute character portraits and sensuous storytelling have much to do with why listeners will be enveloped by the tale. To listen to a sound clip and read our full review, click here.
How do empathy, decisiveness, commitment, and memory play into your decisions?
Narrator Susan Boyce goes Behind the Mic with AudioFile Magazineand tells us a little of what surprised her in narratingHOW WOMEN DECIDE.
All the lessons I learned while narrating it, I think I’m carrying forward in my life—Narrator Susan Boyce
HOW WOMEN DECIDE
by Therese Huston, read by Susan Boyce
Earphones Award Winner
We learned more about decision-making and gender and how to view decisions and their pitfalls in new ways. Narrator Susan Boyce engaged us throughout. To listen to a sound clip and read our full review, click here.
Let the Simone family’s love and heartbreak sweep you away
Talented narrator Julia Whelan shares her warm and heartfelt praise for Christine Reilly’s debut novel, SUNDAY’S ON THE PHONE TO MONDAY. As AudioFile Magazine goes Behind the Mic, Julia lets us in on why she felt this project was truly a special one.
“It is a beautiful story. It is about family, love, mental illness, finding love in mental illness, and loss.”—Narrator Julia Whelan
Julia Whelan’s performance of beautiful lyrical writing, and a family story that connects so clearly with listeners, is a winning combination. Julia Whelan sweeps listeners into the lives of the Simone family until the final tearful moment. To listen to a sound clip and read our full review, click here.
To find more audiobooks narrated by Julia, click here.