Take 5 with Candace: Lunar New Year

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

In China, the celebration of the Lunar New Year is called the Spring Festival, though you may know it as Chinese New Year. During the two-week-long holiday, participants honor their ancestors and deities and spend time with their families.

Festivities involve red decorations, lanterns, parades, firecrackers, and special foods (such as dumplings and long noodles). Similar to the celebration of the new year in cultures and religions around the world, several Chinese traditions are meant to ensure a healthy and prosperous future.

Do Not Say We Have NothingThis year, Spring Festival begins on February 16 and ushers in the Year of the Dog. According to one source, the coming months will see an increase in “social awareness and action, for the many rather than the few.” If you were born in the Year of the Dog, you likely share traits with Winston Churchill, Madonna, and Mother Teresa.

What can you do if you’re unable to attend any local celebrations? You can still get into the spirit of the Lunar New Year by donning a bright red sweater and ordering in some spring rolls. Then settle down to listen to one (or more) of today’s Take 5 recommendations, which will transport you to China, right from your favorite armchair. 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.

Robin’s Roundup: February 9 New Audiobook Reviews

Pairs: two identical, similar, or corresponding things that are matched for use together

It Occurs to Me that I Am America

This week I noticed an impressive crop of nonfiction audiobooks reviewed. Thoughtful and powerful audiobooks on immigration, politics, abuse, and race give us the chance to listen to important and varied perspectives. We often see some of these complex topics handled in both nonfiction and fiction. Listeners usually have a specific preference—a factual account, or the same topic with imagined historical or emotional detail.  Here are some thoughts on audiobook pairs from our recent reviews.

It Occurs to Me that I Am America
Revolution Song

Russell Shorto’s new history REVOLUTION SONG takes a look at the American Revolution through the stories of six people. I’ll pair that with IT OCCURS TO ME THAT I AM AMERICA, a collection of short stories by Richard Russo, Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark, and thirty other contemporary authors. 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.

Robin’s Roundup: February 2 New Audiobook Reviews

Sound Out Black History

Black Detroit

Each February we’re pleased to find a crop of new audiobooks that chronicle Black History  and celebrate lives of African Americans. Two important history titles in our reviews this week look at the city of Detroit: BLACK DETROIT: A People’s History of Self-Determination by Herb Boyd, which looks at the rich cultural tapestry of the city, and DAWN OF DETROIT: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits by Tiya Miles, professor of History and  African-American Studies at the University of Michigan. She looks at the  entwined African American and Native American communities in the 18th century. Before jumping into this 10-hour immersion, The New York Times review has some interesting background.  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: 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.

In Our Time: An Inebriate New Year

From Prohibition to marijuana’s budding legalization

Reefer Madness

A century ago, the United States experimented with a federal mandate prohibiting the manufacture and sale of liquor. Enforcement turned out to be a Sisyphean task, and repeal of Prohibition was legislated less than 20 years later. The remainder of the 20th century turned legal enforcement against other potentially intoxicants  (called vaguely “drugs”) and included a kind of unevenness in enforcement that punished poorer communities, often of color, while turning an increasingly blind eye, across the ensuing decades, to wealthier ingesters of coke, marijuana, and prescription pharmaceuticals taken beyond a regulated relationship between prescribing physician and patient.

Reefer Madness

In the past few years of the 21st century, while marijuana cultivation, sale, and use continue to carry federal criminal penalties, several states have passed laws that, at first, legalized marijuana for medical use, and, more recently, for recreational use as well. With New Year’s drinking behind us and contentious legal paths ahead on the federal level for changing standards of acceptable marijuana use, here’s an audiobook path from Prohibition through marijuana’s budding legalization. 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.

The Sound Stage in the Closet

What It Really Takes to Be an Audiobook Narrator

Xe Sands

As we close out our December celebration of the Best Audiobooks of 2017, I wanted to share some of our winning narrators’ lesser-known skills and challenges.

Xe Sands
Xe Sands, photo by Charles Tarnowski

These are tidbits of information that enhance my admiration for their ability and occasional bravery. Such as not panicking when a spider lands on your hand while you’re trapped in a recording booth voicing a romantic scene. Xe Sands, who read Helen Rappaport’s CAUGHT IN THE REVOLUTION, is officially terrified of eight-legged creatures. Yet professional that she is, she didn’t react until she’d finished her sentence, exited the booth, and closed the door. That’s when she screamed her head off. 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: December 22 Best Audiobooks of the Year #4

Getting an inside look at some biographies

Suzanne Toren

AudioFile Best of 2017

Looking this week at our choices for the BEST titles in the Biography & History category, I’m excited that we have the narrators’ Behind the Mic videos for so many of these titles.

Christian Baskous talking about recording Richard Ford’s BETWEEN THEM; Mark Bramhall on Ron Chernow’s GRANT biography; Jonathan Yen giving us a wonderful teaser to explore A MIND AT PLAY and discover the man who is called the father of the information age, Claude Shannon; and Rob Shapiro talking about recording THE WORLD REMADE, a timely look at America in World War I.

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: Audiobooks for the Winter Solstice

Candace has found the perfect remedy for finding hygge on long winter nights

In the Kingdom of Ice

In the Kingdom of IceTomorrow is the first day of winter and the promise of cold weather ahead for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. But there’s no need to fret: Remember that the solstice also marks the point when the days start to get longer.

Here’s some more good news: Winter is the perfect time to indulge in your favorite indoor hobby, whether that’s baking, knitting, woodcarving, painting, or crafting. And while you’re enjoying your creative endeavors, you can pretend you’re out in the elements by listening to a good audiobook.

Grab a cup of hot chocolate, settle in by the fireplace, and get ready to experience winter the easy way.

Even armchair travelers may feel the chill after listening to IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE by Hampton Sides, about an 1879 expedition to find the North Pole. Narrator Arthur Morey “maintains our rapt attention” as he places the explorers’ emotional and physical challenges front and center. This audiobook is history and true-life adventure at their best. 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.

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.

Do You Even Like Pumpkin Pie?

Audiobooks to See You Through Thanksgiving

Appetite For LifeAs our national celebration of family and pie approaches, I’m reminded of the Thanksgiving when our gorgeously brown turkey slid off the serving platter and across the none-too-clean kitchen floor. After a stunned silence, my mother called out, “Julia Child!” We took up the cheer, “Yes, yes, Julia Child!” And with that paean to the woman who showed America how to cook and cope cheerfully with culinary setbacks, we plopped the bird back on the platter and headed into the dining room to brave my uncle’s divergent political opinions. (For more on the indomitable American cook, I recommend Wanda McCaddon’s reading of APPETITE FOR LIFE: THE BIOGRAPHY OF JULIA CHILD.)

The Lay of the Land

Weighted with food calamities, family contretemps, and expectations of perfection, November Togetherness Day can be tense. As Joe Barrett’s fine performance of Richard Ford’s THE LAY OF THE LAND reveals, it can also be joyous. Selected as an AudioFile Best Audiobook of 2007, the novel drops us into the amusing and angst-ridden tribulations of Frank Bascombe, Ford’s everyman hero, as he faces Thanksgiving with friends and family. 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.