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
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.
In 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.
As an Assistant Editor at AudioFile, library school student, and substitute librarian, Emily spends a lot of time surrounded by good literature. Emily enjoys working behind the scenes to help keep AudioFile’s blog and podcast platforms running and discovering new audiobooks to love.
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
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.
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…
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.
An 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 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.
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…
Self: Seven audiobooks on parenting toddlers and beyond
Most people I talk with have fond memories of the years they spent raising children. It felt great to love those little ones with such intensity and to feel that consuming sense of responsibility for their journey into adulthood. Now that I’m a grandparent, I can tell you it’s even more fun when you’re not the primary care provider and don’t feel that pressure to do something when things aren’t going well. My responsibilities now are to give unwanted advice to the parents and to hide my judgment when I see they’re doing something “wrong.”Two of the parenting audiobooks I listened to recently struck a chord with the part of me that misses being overprotecting and pushing my children to astounding achievements. Read more…
Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.
Adam Grupper takes listeners Behind the Mic to talk about his narration of THE COLOR OF LAW, Richard Rothstein’s examination of discriminatory laws limiting housing for African-Americans. A former New York Times columnist and research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, Rothstein details disturbing evidence.
“For me, this was a deeply infuriating and deeply disturbing book. I hope it will have as profound an impact on you as it had on me.”—Narrator Adam Grupper
Celebrating Pi Day with pastries, pizza, and plenty of audiobooks
Happy 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 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.