Under Questioning: Listening to Formal Hearings

In Our Time

Mastergate

MastergateCongressional hearings are a process of information gathering—both orally and aurally. Hearings might be called for  democracy-threatening political disagreements, huge calamities with manmade elements, or the approval of candidates for important non-elected offices. This formal, often public, investigatory medium, with its spoken and heard nuances as important as the words transmitted, is very friendly to audiobook publishing and listening. Hearings have been recorded in sound media, as well as in transcript form, for over a century now. These recordings, as they relate to events included in audiobooks, may be in the form of archival clips, re-enactments, or elements of wholly fictional drama.

Among the past century of such Congressional hearings, events ranging from disaster at sea to dubious secret intelligence programs have given rise to such hearings. And the hearings have given rise to audiobooks for a variety of ages and in a variety of narrative styles. You can choose your concern or choose your genre to get a taste of listening to how hearings are realized by professional narrators and actors. Read more…

Francisca Goldsmith
Francisca Goldsmith has worked with teens, collections, and administering branch services in public, school, and academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada. Connecting communities to information and supporting new Americans in learning both language and culture are her passions. To those ends, she’s worked with audiobooks and listeners for the past 20 years.

15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

Robin’s Roundup May 11

15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

15 Great Jazz Audiobooks

Jazz is on my mind. Just a few weeks ago, I attended the tribute to the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters—Todd Barkan, Joanne Brackeen, Pat Metheny, and Dianne Reeves—at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. It was such a treat—first listening to podcasts from the NEA, “Art Works,” about each musician, and then getting to be part of the tribute celebration—you can actually watch it in full:

When I got home, I looked up which audiobooks about jazz and jazz musicians we could recommend. Jazz books, and audiobooks, are a bit scarce—perhaps we listen to jazz more than we read about jazz. And in many cases, actual music is not included in audiobook programs. Nevertheless, I’ve put together a list of 15 audiobooks that explore and celebrate Jazz in America.  There are some biographies and memoirs of jazz greats; a few histories on the culture and music of jazz; and, not to be overlooked, engaging jazz stories for young listeners and families.

Let’s start with an iconic audiobook: MILES by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe. For many listeners, the brilliant performance by Dion Graham epitomizes the way that an audio experience can engulf you. WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? offers a different approach to a life portrait with Alan Light’s carefully researched biography. Yet Adenrele Ojo’s performance is no less riveting. Read more…

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

Barbara Bush Loved Audiobooks

Robin’s Roundup: April 27th

Barbara Bush reads Dr. Seuss
Photo © The George Bush Presidential Library/ Chandler Arden-Specialties Photography

Former First Lady Barbara Bush loved audiobooks. When I spoke with her in 2004 about her narrating her own memoirs, REFLECTIONS and BARBARA BUSH: A Memoir, she told me that audiobooks were among her “travel essentials.” She shared what she was listening to with friends—biographies like David McCullough’s TRUMAN, Kathryn Stockett’s THE HELP—even recently Mrs. Bush always had her iPad and headphones handy and ready to play whatever audiobook she was listening to at the time, especially for car rides or when she was home needlepointing. And if she ever couldn’t decide what to listen to next, she never got tired of her classic favorite, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Read our full interview with Mrs. Bush. Read more…

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

5 Questions with January LaVoy

Take 5 with Candace: Why this narrator has fans of all ages and listening genres

January Lavoy by Scott Sherratt

January Lavoy by Scott SherrattSay hello to January LaVoy, a narrator who never fails to impress me with her incredible range of voices and ability to adapt her delivery to fit the intended audience. Our reviewers universally comment on January’s distinct, consistent voices and how smoothly she slips from character to character. It’s no wonder that audiobook fans of all ages and listening tastes have January on their short list of favorite narrators.

I had a hard time picking just five audiobooks to share this week (and, in fact, I cheated by featuring two series), but ultimately I made my choices to highlight January’s performances across different genres. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

A Narrator’s Journey on the Road to Tara

Insights from narrator Karen Commins

Road to Tara

Film star Clark Gable once called author Margaret Mitchell “the most fascinating woman I ever met.”

Road to TaraI’m an Atlanta native, and GONE WITH THE WIND has always been my favorite book and movie. However, I didn’t know much about Margaret Mitchell until I read ROAD TO TARA: The Life of Margaret Mitchell by Anne Edwards.

As I read the book, I found myself agreeing with Gable’s assessment. The many quoted passages in ROAD TO TARA illustrate Mitchell’s terrific gift in captivating her audience and reveal her sharp grasp of publishing legalities.

This book became a map for a spiritual quest. I visited several Atlanta tourist spots associated with Miss Mitchell, including her tiny apartment where she wrote GWTW, her grave, and a GONE WITH THE WIND museum.

The more I learned about her, the more I felt called to narrate this audiobook. I hosted a webinar for other narrators to learn with me how to acquire audio rights and then negotiated the licensing with the publisher. Read more…

Karen Commins
Karen Commins is a professional audiobook narrator, producer, and publisher in Atlanta who has given voice to over 50 audiobooks. In addition to earning a BA in broadcast journalism and MS in computer information systems, Karen has completed extensive specialized training in voiceover and audiobook narration technique, as well as in digital audio production. In 2016 and 2017, Karen was selected as an audiobook juror for the Voice Arts Awards competitions. She spoke about audiobook creation at VOAtlanta 2018. She has written numerous articles about audiobook production for Digital Book World, InD’tale Magazine, the ACX blog, and her web site.

Learning to Love Author-Read Audiobooks

Take 5 With Candace: 5 Author-Narrated Audiobooks

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

One of the great debates among audiobook fans has do with author-narrated audiobooks. Do you seek them out or avoid them like the plague? I used to be solidly in the “just say no to author-read books” camp, thinking audiobooks should be left to the professionals. While I still don’t fully reject that premise, I have to admit that some of my all-time most memorable audiobooks are, in fact, performed by the author.

Born With Teeth
H is for Hawk

Memoirs are a natural for author-read audiobooks. Who could understand the emotional impact and intimate revelations of books in this genre more than the authors themselves? It’s probably a little unfair of me to name Kate Mulgrew’s BORN WITH TEETH as one of my favorite author-read memoirs; after all, she’s an actor, and her ability to read her own life story should be a given. In reality, however, not all actors make good narrators, so I was pleasantly surprised at how genuine Mulgrew sounded as she recounted her journey from childhood to stardom. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

4 Women Who Changed Our World

Robin’s Roundup: April 6 Audiobook Reviews

Visionary Women

VISIONARY WOMEN is made up of four mini biographies of women who changed the way we look at our world. As I thought about this interesting group—Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall, and Alice Waters—I realized that essays by each of them are also available on audio. Several preserve the voices of the authors themselves.

Chef, food activist, and founder of Chez Panisse, Alice Waters recorded her memoir COMING TO MY SENSES last fall. I love what our reviewer said: “Alice Waters’s narration is so approachable that it’s as if she walks up to your table wearing an apron, carrying an enticing plate of food, and says, ‘Eat this while I tell you my story.'” Jane Goodall has written and read several volumes on conversation, botany, and animals many years after her pioneering work with chimpanzees. Her last volume, SEEDS OF HOPE, did not record Jane’s voice, but in her mid-70s she did record HOPE FOR ANIMALS AND THEIR WORLD. Read more…

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

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.

Take 5 with Candace: Pi Day

Celebrating Pi Day with pastries, pizza, and plenty of audiobooks

How To Bake Pi

How To Bake PiHappy Pi Day (or for some of us, Pie Day)! Okay, so you know about the Ides of March and St. Patrick’s Day and the Spring Equinox (all March events), but what’s with Pi Day?

Remember your high school geometry class? Pi (π) is used in the formula that determines the circumference of a circle.  So what does that have to do with March 14? Pi is equal to 3.14 (followed by a bunch of other numbers). Get it? 3.14 = March 14.

Even though I actually do use geometry in my real life (you were right, Mr. High School Math Teacher), I much prefer to celebrate my Pi Day as Pie Day. I’m always up for yummy fruit or nuts baked in a flaky crust, perfect for breakfast or a late-night snack. Read more…

Candace Levy
Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.

The Download: In Conversation with Robin Miles

Behind her dynamic and moving narrations there’s a lot of work, and a lot of heart

Robin Miles by Jordan Matter

Golden Voice narrator Robin Miles is known for her powerful voice and has narrated hundreds of audiobooks, including thoughtful readings of important historical works and dynamic narrations of breathtaking fantasy. Listen in to our interview to hear about the work behind her narrations, and what she’s imagining as she sits behind the mic.

” I always have a person sitting there with me. I never forget, and  I imagine that person listening a foot and a half away, and then I care about whether or not they get what I’m saying and the point of what I’m saying.”— Narrator Robin Miles

Read more…

Josephine Reed
Jo Reed is a compulsive listener of audiobooks. She was the program director of the book and theater channel on XM Satellite Radio where she created, produced, and hosted This is Audible and Writers on Writing. She also created, produced, and hosted the literary show, On the Margin for WPFW, a public radio station in Washington DC where it ran for 18 years.