What Are We Doing Here? Marilynne Robinson’s cultural criticism

Behind the Mic with Carrington MacDuffie

What Are We Doing Here?

In our latest Behind the Mic, narrator Carrington MacDuffie shares her experience narrating WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE? Essays by Marilynne Robinson.

“The depth and passions with which Marilynne Robinson explores her subjects—primarily theology— inspired me throughout.”—Narrator Carrington MacDuffie

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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.

Five Audiobooks Celebrating Nature

Getting your nature fix through audiobooks

The Soul of an Octopus

I know I’m not alone in welcoming warmer weather. Like so many others in the Northern Hemisphere, I couldn’t be happier to finally see spring. I love opening the windows and spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors. Whether I’m on the beach or in the woods, in my garden or relaxing on my deck, I’m all about enjoying the natural environment.

When Mother Nature won’t cooperate, and I’m cooped up inside because of rain or cold, I can still get my nature fix thanks to audiobooks. Sometimes I’m looking for a novel set in a remote locale or an outdoor adventure story; other times I want to be inspired to be a better advocate for planet Earth.

Today, however, I want an upbeat nonfiction audiobook that will teach me more about plants and animals or help me to better appreciate the world around me. Today’s Take 5 recommendations meet these requirements and take us from ocean to farm to sky. 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.

Ripped from the Headlines: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

Behind the Mic with Gabra Zackman

I'll Be Gone In The Dark

With the breaking news that the police in California have arrested a suspect in the cases detailed by Michelle McNamara in I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK, the book is suddenly even more relevant. It’s a terrifying account of the “Golden State Killer,” published posthumously, and the audiobook is narrated with Gabra Zackman’s calm and objective voice. Gabra shares with AudioFile what it was like narrating this true crime story.

“I do think that Michelle speaks in this book like she’s speaking from beyond the grave, guiding us to perhaps solve these unsolved crimes.”—Narrator Gabra Zackman

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Nine audiobooks for Earth Day

Taking care of our planet

The Seabird's Cry

Today, on Earth Day, I’ll be taking my kids out to pick up trash around the neighborhood — something I remember doing with my friends and family growing up in rural Vermont. Every year, after the snow melted and all the accumulated garbage started appearing along with the crocuses, we would have our “green-up day” and go along the roads and in the woods picking up the trash we found. In my memories, we could trade in our full bags for donuts at the general store, which was a pretty magical experience.

The Seabird's CryIn the spirit of Earth Day, I’ve found some conservation-themed audiobooks that celebrate protecting the magic of the earth — and the ocean — for everyone from four-year-olds to your David Attenborough-loving mom.

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for seabirds, so THE SEABIRDS CRY: The Lives and Loves of the Planet’s Great Ocean Voyagers seems like the perfect way to learn more about the often overlooked but essential creatures who live their lives on top of the ocean. This audiobook shares the natural history of ten species of seabirds, and how humans have impacted them. Read more…

Emily Connelly
A former wildlife biologist, avid reader, and parent to two book-loving kids, Emily is excited to be jumping into the world of literature, and happy to be working with AudioFile’s wonderful team of reviewers.

The Future of Humanity: What is our destiny beyond earth?

Behind the Mic with Feodor Chin

The Future of Humanity

Narrator Feodor Chin takes AudioFile listeners Behind the Mic to learn about THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY — and much like Feodor, we don’t remember much of high school physics, but are glad to hear that Michio Kaku’s audiobook is accessible for all levels of interested listeners.

“Dr. Kaku takes complex, scientific ideas and makes them totally accessible, easily understandable, and even pretty exciting.”—Narrator Feodor Chin

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8 Short Collections to Listen to Now

Robin’s Roundup: New Audiobook Reviews April 13

8 Short Story Collections to Listen to Now


Short stories have often gotten the short straw in audiobooks. With audio publishers producing more titles each season, and podcasts gaining more and more listeners, short story collections may be getting more attention. Eight new collections, just reviewed, are worth your listening time. I’ve split them into essays (nonfiction) and fiction stories.

Awayland
A Perfect Universe

Ramona Ausubel’s AWAYLAND showcases the voices of a dozen narrators in a collection that’s both fantastical and familiar. Scott O’Connor’s stories in A PERFECT UNIVERSE are all set in California. Two narrators, Bronson Pinchot and Thérèse Plummer, take us outside the bright lights of Hollywood with very human and complex characters, and pick up an Earphones Award for their performances. 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.

Opening Doors Beyond the Binary

In Our Time

The 57 Bus

In my work with library staff working to improve their reference interviewing skills, I regularly need to provide coaching to those who persistently (and inadvertently) shut down clients by offering them either/or options instead of open-ended questions. This binary view of possibilities is endemic in our culture as well: The person before us can identify themselves as this or that, black or white, straight or gay, right or wrong. In fact, identities match spectra, rather than simply opposite points, and allowing ourselves the opportunity to become aware of realities that go beyond what we already imagine as likely, or even possible, enlarges our own world as well as admitting more variety into it.

The 57 BusAn increasing number of authors address this concern, and many of these books are coming to audio format with successful performances. To be successful in this regard, narrators must be sensitive to the fact that humanity is much broader than a binary, and win listeners to greater possibilities through careful interpretation in their performances.

Among recent audiobooks that demonstrate such wider realities, Robin Miles’s reading of journalist Dashka Slater’s THE 57 BUS: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives is a fine example. There are surface-level elements in this account that clearly spotlight neither/nor, such as the crime victim’s identity as genderqueer. There are more subtle aspects, too, including the true reason behind the perpetrator becoming presumptively identified with a hate crime when, in fact, hate did not inform his motivation. Miles, for her part, does not add a fictional layer to Slater’s carefully balanced reporting by presuming character voices. Instead, she allows each and all sides to be heard unweighted, leaving the listener to consider all the mitigating points along the spectrum of gender identity, class, and racial histories. 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.

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.