Celebrating 25 years of AudioFile Magazine

Iconic 25: What makes an audiobook iconic?

AudioFile 25 Years

We’re celebrating AudioFile’s 25th anniversary this June (which also happens to be Audiobook Month!), and we’d love to have you join us! AudioFile started in 1992 as a source of audiobook reviews and recommendations. In our 25 years of reviewing over 40,000 titles, we have listened to many, many fabulous audiobooks.

To celebrate our 25 years of publishing and Audiobook Month, we are sponsoring the ICONIC 25 project. During the month of June, we’re posting “iconic” audiobooks daily on our Twitter account and asking followers to share their choices using #iconicaudio. Our list is 25 audiobooks long, and we know you’ll think of many more you’ll want to add!

What makes an audiobook iconic? When a friend says, “What audiobooks should I listen to?”, what do you say? We can define iconic different ways, but  Merriam-Webster has a good start: iconic audiobooks are “widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence.”

Their Eyes Were Watching GodOur #iconicaudio discussion will be happening all June on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, and we’d love to hear from you, too! We’ll be sharing a roundup of our – and your – iconic audiobooks here on the blog in July, but in the meantime, here’s what’s on our list so far!

The classic THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD was on top of our list – Ruby Dee’s narration is marvelous and stage-worthy as she switches between the roles, dialects, and voices of the cast of characters for a masterful one-woman performance. Immerse yourself in Zora Neale Hurston’s famous novel about South African-American culture in the 1930s.

There are many adaptations out there of the interstellar classic THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, but Stephen Fry has the spot on our list for his narration of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect’s capers throughout the universe – not to mention the slew of otherworldly weirdoes they encounter on their travels.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

John Lee provides a masterful performance of the award-winning A FINE BALANCE. Four people are thrust together as they struggle to survive in their tumultuous coastal Indian city. The story has a Dickensian mix of compassion and narrative sweep, and Lee’s narration colors the characters beautifully.

THE THIRTEENTH TALE, a gothic mystery, is stunningly narrated by Bianca Amato and Jill Tanner. Jill, as the elderly and enigmatic Vida Winter, uses a hesitant and fragile voice in conversation which falls away to take on the power of a masterful storyteller as she recounts her life story to her biographer Margaret Lea. Bianca shows a respect for the power of the story and the written word as Margaret, who slowly unravels the facts of Ms. Winter’s life.

The Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman’s THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, as performed by the author himself, allowed him to communicate his understanding of his own story from beginning to end. Listeners are carried along, entranced and intrigued, into the magical story of the graveyard community raising young Bod. Neil gives each specter a distinct voice, which he goes so far as to change over time with journeys abroad – and uses to dramatic effect when he reveals the villain.


What iconic audiobooks would make it onto your list? Tell us in the comments or hop onto Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads to let us know!

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