As editor and founder of AudioFile magazine, Robin Whitten comes across a LOT of audiobooks. She started AudioFile 25 years ago and was an avid listener even before that—so she knows the world of audiobooks! Every week in “Robin’s Roundup,” she recommends fresh titles that have caught her ear—the quirky, the trendy, and the most interesting new audiobooks of the week. Look for her posts each Friday on the blog to get your weekend listening picks!
My Roundup this week was going to center on children’s audiobooks to bring some welcome counterpoint to the weather and news of the last few weeks. Instead, I share the sad news of the death of brilliant narrator Katherine Kellgren. Her wonderful performances are known and loved by listeners. Her work was celebrated with every audiobook award—Golden Voice, Earphones, Audie Awards, Odyssey, Voice of Choice, and more. Her kindness and indomitable spirit were loved and cherished by her colleagues and friends. We will miss her greatly. However, Katy leaves us with the enduring treasure of her audiobooks.
A New Year and the Real Meaning of Robin’s Roundup
2018 has roared into Maine with frigid temps and plenty of snow. This is great curl-up-and-read/listen weather.
Just what Danish author Meik Wiking suggests in his popular THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE. His new audiobook, THE LITTLE BOOK OF LYKKE, offers encouragement for a happier year, and life that includes getting to know your neighbors and volunteering. Another new audiobook that offers thoughts along the lines of “fresh starts” for the new year is Oprah Winfrey’s audio collectionTHE WISDOM OF SUNDAYS: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations. I wasn’t initially sure about the title, but found that once I listened to the sample sound clip—that comes up with our review—I was eager to hear more. One activity I do in my neighborhood at the start of the new year reveals another meaning to Robin’s Roundup. My husband and I “roundup” Christmas trees for our garden—limbed up, the boughs make a terrific mulch!
When I meet people for the first time and tell them about AudioFile, they often ask, “Do you listen to all the books yourself?” What a thought! I don’t even want to calculate how many hours that might be—considering we clock in at almost 2,200 audiobook reviews published in 2017. The listening hours are spread among the ~85 AudioFile reviewers. Bless them all . . . for the many hours of work and listening pleasure, but also for the harder work of forming cogent, succinct reviews to enlighten all of us about each listening experience.
Christian Baskous talking about recording Richard Ford’s BETWEEN THEM; Mark Bramhall on Ron Chernow’s GRANT biography; Jonathan Yen giving us a wonderful teaser to explore A MIND AT PLAY and discover the man who is called the father of the information age, Claude Shannon; and Rob Shapiro talking about recording THE WORLD REMADE, a timely look at America in World War I.
If you are looking for audiobooks for Kids & Family listening or for a Teen in your life, our 2017 Best lists have great choices. Last week in my picks from the Nonfiction list, I singled out a couple of choices to inspire writers from John McPhee and Colum McCann. There’s a title for kids to add to this group—Jack Gantos’s WRITING RADAR: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories. Jack’s engaging style and involving ideas really connect with young writers.
Two audiobook choices on our list give another sort of inspiration. Chelsea Clinton’s SHE PERSISTED: 13 American Women Who Changed the World
aims at tiny feminists (ages 4-6), with mini-biographies of Nellie Bly, Helen Keller, Maria Tallchief, Sally Ride, and Sonia Sotomayor, among others. (Aren’t you curious who the other 8 women are?) Kwame Alexander’s THE PLAYBOOK: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life will appeal to audiences ages 10+. Kwame’s rules come from a variety of sources, particularly star athletes like LeBron James, Serena Williams, and Steph Curry, but the wisdom goes beyond the young athlete. Great family listening.
Cozy up for a variety of brilliant listening from our Fantasy & Nonfiction lists
We continue to celebrate the Best Audiobooks of the year, and we appreciate all the shares & retweets from our narrator and publisher friends & audiophile partners—thank you, and keep spreading the word!
My Roundup today looks at our Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror list and also the Nonfiction & Culture list. My immediate take is all the contrast! Will the same reader who settles in for a comforting listen with THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE also choose to contemplate the intangible menace of GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX? Who knows, but I do love the variety of our choices.
Today, we’re launching our annual celebration of Best Audiobooks. Choosing among ALL of the audiobooks we’ve reviewed this year, we selected titles that have special resonance as audiobooks. You can explore our choices from the Best Audiobooks Ezine. I love this edition because we’ve added video and sound clips to help you find your next great audiobook.
Throughout the month here in my Roundup, I’ll be highlighting a few of our choices from each of the nine subject categories. It’s quite hard to choose just a couple from the great titles in each genre—that’s why you’ll have to explore the whole list! I’ll start with Fiction and Memoir—two categories that always get a lot of attention. Read more…
One of the great traditions of the season is the many live performances that families can attend. The glamour and excitement of dance events are my favorite. Two new audiobooks we just reviewed, DANZA! and THE NUTCRACKER MICE, can put your youngsters in the mood . . . for Mexican folkloric music or the traditional Nutcracker ballet. And there’s a classic audiobook that should be on every dance-loving family listening list, BALLET STORIES. This classic from 2001 is an Earphones and Audie Award winner and is punctuated with Naxos AudioBooks’ signature music, and meticulous attention to detail. And for anyone who watched CALL THE MIDWIFE on PBS, Jenny Agutter (Sister Julienne) narrates this wonderful program. Read more…
Chef and restauranteur Barbara Lynch’s memoir OUT OF LINE: A Life of Playing With Fire may be just the ticket to inspire your holiday planning while hearing about Lynch’s bootstrap rise to extraordinary success. Narrator Christina Delaine leads us through avowed risk-taker Lynch’s memoir. I was intrigued by the New York Times interview with Lynch titled “After South Boston, a Restaurant Was Easy.” That seems like a good way to approach holiday meal planning!
One of the audiobook publishing events I’ve most looked forward to this fall is Philip Pullman’s new THE BOOK OF DUST: La Belle Sauvage. I’ve previously written about my affection for and admiration of Pullman’s THE GOLDEN COMPASS—the full trilogy, released nearly 20 years ago. I had the great pleasure of talking with some of the audio producers involved in creating Pullman’s terrific audiobooks, and I’ll write more about this in a few weeks. Read more…
For a little listening to lift our spirits this week, I want to highlight this audio-first anthology of stories, poems, and essays, NEVERTHELESS WE PERSISTED, written and performed by an ensemble of authors and narrators. The collaboration between authors and narrators from around the globe resonates clearly in this labor of love and careful production. And for tiny feminists (ages 4-6) and their parents, remember to take a listen to Chelsea Clinton’s SHE PERSISTED.
For a listening choice to galvanize resolve to speak up, Gretchen Carlson’s BE FIERCE: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back is a timely choice this week. When Carlson walked away from her job as a news anchor for Fox News to fight—and win—her sexual harassment case, she discovered that her story is just one of many that deserves to be told. She suggests practical steps women can take to stand up for themselves. Read more…