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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Learning to Love Author-Read Audiobooks

Take 5 With Candace: 5 Author-Narrated Audiobooks

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

One of the great debates among audiobook fans has do with author-narrated audiobooks. Do you seek them out or avoid them like the plague? I used to be solidly in the “just say no to author-read books” camp, thinking audiobooks should be left to the professionals. While I still don’t fully reject that premise, I have to admit that some of my all-time most memorable audiobooks are, in fact, performed by the author.

Born With Teeth
H is for Hawk

Memoirs are a natural for author-read audiobooks. Who could understand the emotional impact and intimate revelations of books in this genre more than the authors themselves? It’s probably a little unfair of me to name Kate Mulgrew’s BORN WITH TEETH as one of my favorite author-read memoirs; after all, she’s an actor, and her ability to read her own life story should be a given. In reality, however, not all actors make good narrators, so I was pleasantly surprised at how genuine Mulgrew sounded as she recounted her journey from childhood to stardom. 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.

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.

A kingdom where the coin of the realm is blood . . . hear more about Sara Holland’s new fantasy Everless

Behind the Mic with narrator Eileen Stevens

Everless

Let AudioFile take you BEHIND THE MIC with narrator Eileen Stevens, narrator of the new YA fantasy EVERLESS by Sara Holland. Eileen shares some thoughts with listeners.

“Alchemy, sorcery and characters that aren’t what they appear to be—it’s mystery, it’s fun!”—Narrator Eileen Stevens

Read more…

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4 Audiobooks in Which Miracles Might be Possible

Aurelia’s Audio Adventures: Do You Believe?

Galore

GaloreI don’t come from a religious family, but during this week between the Roman and Orthodox Easters, I’m reminded of my one experience of church on Easter Sunday. In the children’s group, we discussed the resurrection of Jesus; hunted for chocolate eggs and jellybeans; patted visiting bunnies; and sang Puff the Magic Dragon. I embraced it all.

I’m still comforted by the possibility of miracles and magic, which is why I recommend GALORE, Michael Crummey’s allegorical saga about a man found inside a whale and the effect he has on generations of 19thcentury Newfoundland villagers. Not Jonah exactly, but close enough to be a story for the ages. It’s narrated by John Lee, whose warm embrace of a voice radiates wonder and seeps into your very marrow. 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.

Do you love Sherlock Holmes? Hear more about A Study in Charlotte

Behind the Mic with Narrator Graham Halstead

A Study in Charlotte

Listen in as narrator Graham Halstead goes Behind the Mic to tell us about narrating A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE, a contemporary mystery about Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, the great-great-great-grandchildren of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

“If you like Sherlockian mystery with a twist, or if cleverly plotted YA is your thing, then this is the series for you!”—Narrator Graham Halstead

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In Our Time: Kids Who Lead

The power of children as political leaders

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler

The Boys Who Challenged HitlerAs we watch and listen to the young leaders from Parkland, Florida, Americans are divided by whether both life and liberty can be attained jointly. Values, many adults seem hasty to opine, come from maturity and experience, which may be another way to say that the suspension of disbelief in the face of actual events is a subtle art that escapes youth.

History, however, shows a different reality, and it’s a reality born of fact: Teenagers are at peak power of seeing the emperor has no clothes, saying the emperor has no clothes, and acting on their observation that the emperor has no clothes. 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.

Behind the Mic: Openly Straight

Narrator Pete Cross brings humor and empathy to Bill Konigsberg’s LGBTQ teen novel

Openly Straight

Narrator Pete Cross takes AudioFile readers Behind the Mic to share his narration of Bill Konigsberg’s funny and sweet audiobook for teens, OPENLY STRAIGHT.

“I was happy, really happy, to be a part of it because I thought it was important . . . I’m gay, and when I was a teenager, there weren’t books with main characters my age who were gay and  that had these positive images of gay people.”—Narrator Pete Cross

Read more…

We're the editorial team at AudioFile Magazine!

Take 5 with Candace: 5 Questions with Alyssa Bresnahan

Alyssa draws listeners into the emotional heart of her audiobooks

Alyssa Bresnahan on a chairlift
Alyssa Bresnahan on a chairlift with her daughter
Alyssa and her daughter on their way to ski

Do you have a favorite audiobook? I do, and it was narrated by none other than today’s guest, Alyssa Bresnahan. You’ll have to forgive a little fangirl giddiness as I introduce you to Alyssa and recommend five of her stellar audiobook performances.

I’m not alone in praise of her work; Alyssa has won many AudioFile Earphones Awards and has appeared on several of our best of the year lists, most recently for her performance of Charlie Jane Anders’s ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY,  which was an AudioFile best of 2016 Science Fiction & Fantasy pick.

5 Audiobooks

An Owl on Every PostEach of today’s featured audiobooks highlights Alyssa’s talent for creating an evocative atmosphere and drawing the listener into the emotional heart of the story. For example, her performance of AN OWL ON EVERY POST—Sanora Babb’s memoir of homesteading in the early 20th century on the eastern plains of Colorado—helps us feel the expanse of the prairie, the power of nature, and the strength of the pioneering spirit. 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.

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.