The Poetry of Each Day: Tracy K. Smith & Emily Dickinson

Robin’s Roundup: April 20th

Wade In The Water

“Poetry lives everywhere,” said Tracy K. Smith, teacher and writer and America’s Poet Laureate, as she kicked off April’s National Poetry Month a few weeks ago. As a listener—to audiobooks, poetry, podcasts, and even the eloquence of a speaker—I love that we celebrate all of these in sound.

In Smith’s new collection of poetry WADE IN THE WATER—which of course she reads—we hear her unhurried presentation of cadences and rhythm. And happily for listeners, her earlier collections, DUENDE and LIFE ON MARS, have also been released as audiobooks. In today’s New York Times there is a great conversation between Smith and Jacqueline Woodson, “Tracy K. Smith and Jacqueline Woodson Talk Reading Race and Spreading the Gospel of Literature.”

Duende
Life On Mars
Wade In The Water
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.

What We’re Loving Right Now

Staff Picks for April

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Our Staff Picks this month represent our own wide and varied listening tastes. We’d love to hear from AudioFile listeners, too — what are you listening to now? Share below in the comments or post a picture of you listening and tag us on Twitter or Facebook!

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens AgendaIn happy anticipation of seeing the movie Love, Simon, I was glad to revisit the YA book it’s based on, Becky Albertalli’s SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. Since I’ve already read it twice in print (ahem), this time I decided to listen to the audiobook version. Narrator Michael Crouch brings out all of the novel’s humor, charm, and swoony sweetness. Now I’m looking forward to the sequel (all about Simon’s BFF Leah), LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT.
—Jenn Dowell, Managing Editor Read more…

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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.

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.

Take 5 with Candace: 5 Questions with Robert Fass

Five audiobooks and five questions with narrator Robert Fass

Robert Fass

Today I welcome the versatile Robert Fass to the 5 Audios / 5 Questions hot seat. I say versatile not only because Robert’s audiobook catalog covers a wide range of genres but also because he’s dipped his toe into the audiobook publishing pool as well (IT HAPPENED IN BOSTON?).

Robert Fass

5 Audiobooks

One of Robert’s strengths as a narrator is creating a strong link between listeners and author, especially for nonfiction. For example, his performance of the personal essays in THE FLY TRAP highlights entomologist Fredrik Sjöberg’s personality, enthusiasm, and wry humor, making us feel as if we had just made a new friend. Robert’s delivery of Henry Fountain’s THE GREAT QUAKE, about the 9.2-magnitude 1964 Alaskan earthquake, helps us absorb the unthinkable devastation as described by eyewitnesses but wisely backs off the melodrama. 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.

Self: The Nuance of Social Issues

Audiobooks to understand the foundations of and approaches toward today’s social challenges

Tales of Two Americas

Audiobooks about issues and ideas have always been a large segment of the nonfiction catalog, and we’re honoring that tradition with a collection of audios on social issues your friends and neighbors are talking about. Racial and LGBTQ discrimination, unfairness in the workplace, an upside-down criminal justice system—these are issues that deserve our attention.

Tales of Two AmericasWhile the messaging in print and other media outlets is too often full of passion without mercy and chaotic conversations, the social issue audiobooks we hear are invariably more illuminating than divisive. Written persuasively by well-qualified authors, these audios tackle the foundations and nuance of today’s social challenges and offer appealing ideas about how to handle them.

With audiobooks in this genre, the challenge for narrators is bringing the type of tone, attitude, and character that fits the energy and substance of the message. By carefully modulating their passion, a good reader draws listeners into a book’s point of view instead of throwing hand grenades at them. Just watch a bit of political or local-access TV to get a taste of how bombast and an untrained voice can ruin an idea. 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.

Behind the Mic: The Prague Sonata

Listen in as Christina Delaine tells of narrating Bradford Morrow’s sweeping historical novel

The Prague Sonata

Narrator Christina Delaine takes AudioFile readers Behind the Mic for her narration of THE PRAGUE SONATA. Bradford Morrow’s moving novel tells of a mysterious musical score that connects two women across history.

“I loved these women. They are humbling and awe-inspiring. I miss hanging out with them—they were fine company to keep.”— Narrator Christina Delaine

Read more…

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Audiobooks and Literacy: Explore Behind the Microphone for Lifetime Possibilities

Audiobooks to inspire and inform

Moonbird

Over the past two decades, American education has reduced teens’ exposure to careers they might find engaging and worthy of pursuit without a post-high school degree. As a result, many high school students would be hard pressed to name more than a dozen career options open to them, even though they may already possess both skills and interests that speak to over a thousand different job types.

MoonbirdThere are some outlets where students can learn more about their interests and develop skills. Libraries, who have makerspace areas for hands-on learning; community theatre groups; and social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Tumbler, allow for budding crafters, writers, artists, actors, and photographers to create their works and share them with others.

Audiobooks can be a great catalyst in the search for new interests and possible career paths. In addition to their content, high-quality audiobooks lead us to appreciate the several skills beyond the writing that have gone into them: acting, voice training, recording, sound engineering, and more—not to mention the publishing and marketing and publicity skills that get them into the ears of consumers. 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.

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: A Shout-out to Sonnets

Listening to Poetry Just Makes Life Better

The Great Poets: Walt Whitman“Focus on something. It’ll steady your nerves,” my mother advised. That’s why I stared fixedly at Mr. Potter the Latin teacher throughout my 6th grade recitation of “Oh Captain, My Captain” by Walt Whitman. Mr. Potter smiled benignly. And when my nerves settled, the words rose, heated, as they had not when I’d practiced, surprising me into passion. In the years since, I’ve found that whether in the midst of joy or sorrow, wistfulness or contentment, poetry speaks intimately to the heart and mind. It also demands to be spoken.

White men who died long ago wrote most of the poetry I learned in school. I still turn to it because the guys, including Whitman, really could write. Naxos AudioBooks’ Great Poets series has a fine collection, including Garrick Hagon’s Earphones Award performance of Whitman’s best known poems in THE GREAT POETS: WALT WHITMAN. 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.

Robin’s Roundup: November 24 New Audiobook Reviews

Dance, Danza, Ballet, Folklore, Fables: Seasonal Traditions

Danza

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…

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.