Gaining Insight Through Mysteries

In Celebration of Black History Month

As we close out Black History Month, I want to take this opportunity to recognize the contributions of African American authors, narrators, and characters to the mystery/thriller genre. There is such a wealth of audiobooks to focus on.

The Real Cool Killers
Cotton Comes to Harlem

Let’s start with the late author Chester Himes, who wrote a series of nine hardboiled crime novels featuring Harlem detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones set in the 1950s to the late 1960s.  The audiobooks, released in 2011 and 2012, were recorded by Golden Voice narrator Dion Graham and include THE REAL COOL KILLERS and COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (made into a movie in 1970). Read more…

Ellen Quint
A mystery writer, audiobook reviewer and Audies judge. Ellen is currently the program chair of Sisters in Crime-NY and has published two crime short stories: Crossing the Line (Family Matters); Taking the Brooklyn Bridge Back (Where Crime Never Sleeps).

Coretta Scott King Award-Winning Audiobooks

Beauty, intelligence, courage, and ingenuity

A Few Red Drops

Coretta Scott King 50th AnniversaryIn her speech accepting the 2018 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award, author Eloise Greenfield said, “Children need to know, and to see in books, the truth — the beauty, intelligence, courage, and ingenuity of African and African American people.” 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, given annually to African American authors and illustrators who demonstrate an appreciation of or affirm African American culture and universal human values. Many of this year’s Coretta Scott King Award winners and honorees are also excellent audiobooks. Read more…

Sonja Cole
As a former middle school librarian and author of Booktalking Around the World: Great Global Reads for Ages 9-14, Sonja’s mission is to get kids excited about books.

Listening to Martin Luther King, Jr.: Audiobooks That Illuminate His Legacy

Robin’s Roundup January 18

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 1966
President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 1966
President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., meet at the White House, 1966

Audiobooks create a immersive and affecting way to understand and celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. His accomplishments will continue to resonate for generations, but the short period when he was active with the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until April 4, 1968, was a mere 13 years. There is much to explore among these audiobooks, and many opportunities to be inspired by Dr. King, “A prophet of justice, a leader of tremendous will, a moral and spiritual defender of good.” (“View From the Mountain” by Maja Thomas, AudioFile, February 1999.) 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.

A Foxhole to Audiobooks on the World War I Centenary

Robin’s Roundup November 9

Remembrance Audiobooks

Each week I often “go down the rabbit hole” in pursuit of audiobooks for this blog post. Perhaps this week it’s a “foxhole,” as my topic is the World War I Centenary—the Great War Forum even has a discussion of when and where the term foxhole originated. We’ve collected a varied group of audiobooks about WWI. Solve editor Ellen Quint just posted Reflecting on Remembrance Day through WWI Mysteries, and Aurelia Scott’s post My Grandfather’s War offers a good group of fiction and nonfiction audiobooks. Aurelia includes THE WORLD REMADE: America in World War I by G.J. Meyer. Narrator Rob Shapiro made a compelling video for us noting how relevant Meyer’s history remains.

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.

Solve: The Best Mysteries of 2017 and a trip Behind the Mic

Plus a special video of narrator JD Jackson on the award-winner BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD

Bluebird Bluebird

Bluebird BluebirdOur fine editors at AudioFile Magazine have hemmed and hawed and pulled some hair (mostly their own) to come to a consensus on the Best Audiobooks of 2017! If you haven’t had a chance to check out the complete lists—they’re broken down into genre categories—you can do so here.

The mystery choices are good ones, including some of my personal favorites: Louise Penny’s GLASS HOUSES, Jo Nesbø’s THE THIRST, and Craig Johnson’s THE WESTERN STAR. You can see the whole list here.

I’m especially excited to see Attica Locke’s BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD on the list. I mentioned Locke’s newest, narrated by JD Jackson, in my celebration of crime fighters post back in October, and I’m excited to share this fun Behind the Mic video from JD Jackson. He says BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD read like a “brown liquor blues song.” Maybe he should be reviewing for us!

“This is an amazing mystery and suspense novel, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about regret, it’s about honor, it’s about redemption, and it’s about racial tension that has festered in this small town.”—Narrator JD Jackson

Please enjoy the video and be sure to check out AudioFile Magazine’s Best Audiobooks of 2017. There’s so much good listening in these lists. You can start stockpiling for the cold winter months coming our way. Happy Listening!

Best Audiobooks 2017

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Solve: Celebrating Crime Fighters

Recognizing literary crime fighting heroes for National Crime Prevention Month

Thomas Mullen: DarktownOctober is National Crime Prevention Month. That’s an appropriate recognition for mystery books and their heroes. We can find protagonists from every tier of the justice world, and many of the themes of these stories mirror the social issues reflected in our culture.

Police detectives, sheriffs, and other agents of the state are out pounding the pavement when crime erupts.  Karin Slaughter celebrates determined women fighting crime in Atlanta law enforcement during the 1970s with COP TOWN, while Thomas Muller’s DARKTOWN illustrates the struggles black men encountered when they integrated the Atlanta Police Force and tried to do their jobs several decades earlier. Read more…

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

Audiobooks and Literacy: Literacy Fitness Program

It’s time to wake up your listening skills

Sister Outsider

If you are an educated adult who likes to read, this post may surprise you. Our literacy skills, as research has shown repeatedly and in international as well as American studies, aren’t stable across our adult life spans.

Sister Outsider

Kids’ “summer slide” has been well publicized, but less well known is evidence that adult literacy requires practice in order to persist through life, and not just seasonally. No matter your level of education, advancing age can lead to deterioration of literacy skill sets. Even bookworms can lose their literacy edge if their reading habits stop requiring or inspiring the need to reflect, question critically, or acquire new information. Unfortunately, this becomes the case with many adults in middle age.

These “literacy losses” are actually critical thinking losses. Once we have basic literacy skills (typically achieved in third grade), literacy isn’t about decoding individual words but collecting and absorbing meaning from whole paragraphs, texts, and complex directions. Adult losses in these skill areas impact our abilities to sort information, follow technical directions, and experience empathy. From a practical perspective, these losses mean we feel unsure about where stated fact ends and opinion begins, we may struggle to make sense of the programmable thermostat, and our world may shrink to include only those who share our cultural identity. 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.