The Thrill of Knowing Stuff (in Five Audiobooks)

Inspiration! Enlightenment! Entertainment!

Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Brief Answers to the Big QuestionsThis time of year, I want to be inspired and enlightened about things that matter while also being entertained. I seek hope about the future, even if that hope is tethered to a “what must happen to save the world” to-do list. Yes, watching the Great British Baking Show and listening again to Henning Mankell’s AN EVENT IN AUTUMN (read by the marvelous Simon Vance) have been satisfying diversions. But now I’m looking for empowerment, energy, and the happiness that comes from knowing stuff.

You too? Well, here are five audiobooks to get us started, beginning with Stephen Hawking’s BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS. Hawking’s “parting gift to humanity,” according to NPR, this short audiobook offers an eloquent and moving consideration of all that science has given us and the challenges left to face. Ben Whishaw’s gentle clear voice stands in eloquently for Hawking, making the science easy to understand and the human lessons significant. This will be one to play more than once and treasure forever. 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.

5 Audiobooks for the New Year

Meet Your Goals in 2019

Craft A Life You Love

Craft A Life You LoveI don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I can’t help but see the new year as a chance to carve out more down time, to be a better scheduler, and to enjoy more time with friends and family. Every January when I open my new planner and hang the new calendar, I promise myself that this is the year I break the busyness cycle.

Researchers and social observers note that most of us are, in fact, less busy than we feel. Theories for this disconnect abound. For example Science Alert makes an argument that technology, information overload, and too many leisure choices add to our anxiety levels. The Guardian puts the blame on our DIY lifestyle. By booking our own travel or acting as our own bankers, we not only have to make time for those chores but we also miss out on face-to-face interactions, which can brighten our days. 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.

Warming Up to Winter with Nordic Noir

E Quint on Lundegatan

E Quint on LundegatanAs I look up into the gray skies of Brooklyn and know that the winter sun, which has barely shown its face for days, will be disappearing behind the skyscrapers of Manhattan in an instant, I feel an affinity with the bleak and coffee-filled settings of Nordic Noir.

Many of us were introduced to the genre by Stieg Larsson’s THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO and David Largercrantz’s follow-ups, the latest one being THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE, all narrated by the award-winning Simon Vance. Having listened to all of the audiobooks numerous times, I am really looking forward to the next one, THE GIRL WHO LIVED TWICE, which is scheduled for release in August 2019. I actually went super fangirl on a recent trip to Stockholm and searched for Lisbeth Salander. At least I found the street where she grew up—Lundegarten. Ironically, I got to experience Sweden during the heat of summer with beautiful blue skies when the sun never sets. 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).

5 Surprising Audiobooks to Make You Smile

Discover delightful end-of-the-year listens

Snowman Smile

Snowman SmileAs we count down the remaining days of December, I wish all of you a new year filled with unexpected moments of delight—the smile of a passing stranger; a tune that sends you shuffle-dancing down the supermarket aisle; learning that your favorite barista loves the same François Truffaut films you do; discovering the most amazing book at the library.

Take Susan Orlean’s THE LIBRARY BOOK, which I loved so much that I listened to it and then checked it out of the library and read it all over again. Ever since I was empowered by my own borrower’s card at age seven, libraries have been a source of intrigue, joy, solace, drama, and education. Orlean’s captivating nonfiction audiobook offers all that and more. Read by Orlean herself in an Earphones Award-winning performance, it is an investigation into who set the devastating 1986 Los Angeles Library fire, a look at the library’s occasionally wacky history, and a celebration of libraries (and library patrons) all their excess and weirdness. It’s not that I recognized myself in any of those oddball patrons. Oh no. 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.

A Feast of Listening for the Holidays

Robin’s Roundup December 21

Twain's Feast

One of my favorite times to listen is while I’m cooking, and during the holidays I’m spending more time with my sleeves rolled up. This is when I wish I had a voice-controlled speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home. Pushing pause when your hands are gummy always presents a problem!

Any audiobook choice will do, but if  you’re in the mood to hear about food while you are preparing food, here are some possible choices.

Twain's Feast
A Chef's Christmas

Nick Offerman hosts a lively audio program based on food writer Andrew Beahrs’ book TWAIN’S FEAST. It’s much more than a straight narrative with Offerman reading from Twain’s letters and comments, and an actual eight-course meal is prepared with chef Tyler Anderson. If you haven’t fully planned your menus—this program may give you some ideas!  Hearing Anthony Bourdain read his short story, A CHEF’S CHRISTMAS is a bit bittersweet, but we’re reminded of the late chef/writer/television personality’s ability as a storyteller. It’s great to hear Bourdain and may even lead you to his 2010 memoir MEDIUM RAW. 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.

Cozy Christmas Mysteries

5 Audiobooks for the Season

Cozy Christmas Mysteries

Cozy Christmas Mysteries

Don’t panic, but Christmas is less than a week away! If you celebrate Hanukah, then you’re already cruising and looking forward to the new year, but if you celebrate Kwanzaa, Christmas, or the winter solstice, then you’re probably deep into last-minute prep.

For most of us, pre-holiday activities include baking and cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping, wrapping, and—I hope—relaxing in the evening with some cookies and a warm (or warming) drink. Are you looking for something that will make all of those chores more fun and will put you in a holiday mood? One of my secrets is listening to holiday-themed cozy mystery audiobooks. 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.

Off to the City of Angels and the Devil in a Blue Dress

Leaving the gray skies for sunny L.A.

The Big Sleep

The Big SleepYes, this blog is being posted the week before Christmas, but I’m going to let my fellow bloggers call out the holiday, as Caitlin Augusta does in her Countdown to the Holidays post. I am not being a grinch, it’s just that I’m taking a break from the gray skies and holiday-decked-out New York City and flying off to sunny Los Angeles. Come join me through audiobooks.

Perhaps because Los Angeles is associated with Hollywood, glitter, glamour, big dreams, celebrities, and sun, it’s also known for the dark side that seethes just beneath the surface—the perfect setting for noir classics as well as some of the top mystery/thriller series.

Let’s start with the original hardboiled detective novels—Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe series. Sadly, the audio versions narrated by actor Elliot Gould, including THE BIG SLEEP, are out of print and might be hard to find (check your library!), but listeners can enjoy the BBC’s Full Cast Radio Drama. Audiobooks are well-suited for Chandler’s quick-paced writing and snappy dialogue. When asked if Marlowe was his alter ego, Chandler responded: “Yes, I’m exactly like the characters in my books. I do a great deal of research, especially in the apartments of tall blondes.” 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).

The 5 Best Histories and Biographies of 2018

Finding Hope for Today in What Once Was

2018 Best Biography & History Audiobooks

2018 Best Biography & History AudiobooksIt turns out that “May you live in interesting times” was probably not an ancient Chinese curse, but I mutter it to myself anyway, because, hey, are these interesting times or what?  In between muttering, I have turned to AudioFile’s selection of the best histories and biographies of the year. They offer perspective, inspiration, and occasional comfort. I figure that folks have already lived what’s described in the books, so today has got to be manageable. 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.

The 5 Best Memoirs of 2018

Inspiring Peeps to Hang Out With

Becoming

BecomingIn my next life, I will be mathematically gifted, a natural athlete, pale with copper hair or mocha with corkscrew curls, able to carry a tune and tell a joke without ruining the punchline, and unafraid of roller-coasters. Until then, I’m spending time with folks who inspire me in this life, finding them in AudioFile’s picks for the five best memoirs of 2018. (Check out all of our 2018 Best Audiobooks in our media-rich E-Zine.)

Let’s begin with Michelle Obama, whose new memoir, BECOMING, lifts the spirits as it heartens. As I listened to her Earphones Award-winning performance, I admired her more than ever and felt I’d gained a new best friend. This is an audiobook that I’ll keep coming back to in order to savor Obama’s embracing voice and thoughtful, fierce, funny reminiscences about real life, both grand and humble.

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.

Holiday Romance is in the Air

4 New Holiday Audiobooks

A Very Merry Romance

A Very Merry RomanceApplaud my restraint. I have waited until November to post holiday audiobook reviews. Just ask my coworkers—it was June when I announced the schedule for a certain “Countdown to Christmas” holiday movie festival that I plan my weekends around. So for my fellow Christmas-philes, these audiobooks should add to your festive spirit.

A VERY MERRY ROMANCE
by Brenda Jackson, read by Ron Butler
Harlequin Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Ron Butler doesn’t take sides as he presents the romantic journey of Marilyn Bannister and Jonathan Madaris. A Houston principal, Jonathan can’t date his new teacher, so he secretly transfers her to begin his courtship. Butler embodies the suave confidence Jonathan uses to attract Marilyn’s attention and overcome her misgivings while subtly differentiating Marilyn’s dialogue. The holiday warmth comes near the end of the recording, so this is a good warm-up to the holiday season.    Read more…

Caitlin is a librarian from Connecticut who enjoys great narrators and happy endings. She has been reviewing audiobooks for Audiofile Magazine since 2006, and she has had the privilege of judging numerous Audie Award categories since 2009. Her favorite authors are Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and whatever she's listening to right now!