Nine audiobooks for Earth Day

Taking care of our planet

The Seabird's Cry

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.

The Seabird's CryIn 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.

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for seabirds, so THE SEABIRDS CRY: The Lives and Loves of the Planet’s Great Ocean Voyagers seems like the perfect way to learn more about the often overlooked but essential creatures who live their lives on top of the ocean. This audiobook shares the natural history of ten species of seabirds, and how humans have impacted them. Read more…

Emily Connelly
A former wildlife biologist, avid reader, and parent to two book-loving kids, Emily is excited to be jumping into the world of literature, and happy to be working with AudioFile’s wonderful team of reviewers. She works behind the scenes to help keep AudioFile's blog running and is currently working towards a MLIS.

Opening Doors Beyond the Binary

In Our Time

The 57 Bus

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.

The 57 BusAn 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
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 Download: In Conversation with Robin Miles

Behind her dynamic and moving narrations there’s a lot of work, and a lot of heart

Robin Miles by Jordan Matter

Golden Voice narrator Robin Miles is known for her powerful voice and has narrated hundreds of audiobooks, including thoughtful readings of important historical works and dynamic narrations of breathtaking fantasy. Listen in to our interview to hear about the work behind her narrations, and what she’s imagining as she sits behind the mic.

” I always have a person sitting there with me. I never forget, and  I imagine that person listening a foot and a half away, and then I care about whether or not they get what I’m saying and the point of what I’m saying.”— Narrator Robin Miles

Read more…

Josephine Reed
Jo Reed is a compulsive listener of audiobooks. She was the program director of the book and theater channel on XM Satellite Radio where she created, produced, and hosted This is Audible and Writers on Writing. She also created, produced, and hosted the literary show, On the Margin for WPFW, a public radio station in Washington DC where it ran for 18 years.

Extraordinary Worlds: Afrofuturism, science fiction, and fantasy on audio

Exploring Wakanda and beyond through audiobooks

Black Panther: The Young Prince

Like millions of others around the world, I went and saw Black Panther last weekend and was completely blown away. It was an amazing movie, and if you haven’t seen it yet, go!

Black Panther: The Young PrinceThere are many comic book explorations of superhero Black Panther out there, but only one has been recorded as an audiobook so far. BLACK PANTHER: The Young Prince is read with urgency and excitement by Dion Graham. As I left the theater, I was struck by the many outstanding science fiction and fantasy audiobooks that those who loved the world of Black Panther and Wakanda could dive right into, even if they are set outside of Marvel’s universe. Read more…

Emily Connelly
A former wildlife biologist, avid reader, and parent to two book-loving kids, Emily is excited to be jumping into the world of literature, and happy to be working with AudioFile’s wonderful team of reviewers. She works behind the scenes to help keep AudioFile's blog running and is currently working towards a MLIS.

Robin’s Roundup: February 16 New Audiobook Reviews

Hello, universe, check out the spectacular listening in the Newbery and Odyssey Awards

Hello, Universe

Hello, UniverseIn the midst of awards season, I’m always looking out for those that specifically celebrate audiobooks, like the Spoken Word Grammy (Carrie Fisher’s THE PRINCESS DIARIST) and The Odyssey Award (THE HATE U GIVE). Also, I love finding the audiobook companion of books that are being celebrated—the American Library Association awards announced this week offer a wealth of great listening. The Newbery Award, for example, given for the year’s “most outstanding contribution to literature,” honored HELLO, UNIVERSE by Erin Entrada Kelly. We’ve talked about and celebrated the audiobook for months—check out narrator Ramon de Ocampo in one of our Behind the Mic videos telling us how swept up he was in this book. It’s thrilling to know that it has received the great Newbery honor. You’ll be hearing more about one of the Newbery Honor titles, Jason Reynolds’s LONG WAY DOWN—we have an exciting interview with Jason about recording his audiobooks for our upcoming print issue. (Look for it April 1.)  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 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.

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 1 Best Audiobooks of the Year

Which audiobook will you choose next?

Best Audiobooks 2017

Best Audiobooks 2017Today, we’re launching our annual celebration of Best Audiobooks. Choosing among ALL of the audiobooks we’ve reviewed this year, we selected titles that have special resonance as audiobooks. You can explore our choices from the Best Audiobooks Ezine. I love this edition because we’ve added video and sound clips to help you find your next great audiobook.

Throughout the month here in my Roundup,  I’ll be highlighting a few of our choices from each of the nine subject categories. It’s quite hard to choose just a couple from the great titles in each genre—that’s why you’ll have to explore the whole list! I’ll start with Fiction and Memoir—two categories that always get a lot of attention. 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: October 6 New Audiobook Reviews

National Book Award finalists offer thoughtful and inspiring listening

Sing, Unburied, SingOne of the great aspects of the National Book Awards is that they often highlight titles that may not be on your radar yet. And as listeners know, audiobooks can be a great way to increase your reading time and to tackle the problem of “so many books, so little time!” Among the finalist announcements this week, there are several audiobooks definitely worth taking the time to explore. We just reviewed SING, UNBURIED, SING with three narrators, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Rutina Wesley, and Chris Chalk, and picking up an Earphones Award. Two other finalists in the Fiction category, DARK AT THE CROSSING, with narrator Vikas Adam, and THE LEAVERS, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller, are also recommended.

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.