Friday, December 9, 2011

Audiobooks: Where to start?

I had a great question from Anna of - dooliterature - on my Swordspoint review. She hasn't listened to audiobooks before and was wondering if I had any recommendations for good books to start with.

Why yes, yes I do.

First of all, congratulations for jumping into audiobooks. It's an amazing world! This question has come up before on Twitter, and the answer from several people was Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. That's an excellent place to start, but it's a pretty short answer.

The long answer is audiobooks can be tricky things. I want a good story, a good narrator, and a story that works in audio. Good audio production has become more common as technology has improved and more people are listening to audiobooks. I'm more wary of older audiobooks where there production quality can range greatly. I've been disappointed many times in the past by books I just couldn't listen to. When this happened I had to give up and move on to a different book.

Some fine books have excellent audio production but are harder to listen to because the story is more complicated. For example, The Night Circus is a good story, Jim Dale is a fabulous narrator, but the time jumps made it hard for me to follow along. If I was reading the book, I could flip back to figure out the dates, but it's much harder to flip around in audio.

For someone starting out with audiobooks I'd say,
- Try books you've already read and enjoyed
- When you find a narrator you enjoy, try other books read by that person
- If you're listening to a book that's not going well, don't suffer through. Stop and try a different book. Listening is supposed to be fun!
- Try lots of books. It might take awhile to find the kind you like best

There are so many excellent audiobooks. Here's a very small sample of some I've enjoyed that could be a place to start.

Urban Paranormal
Magic Bites series by Ilona Andrews read by Renee Raudman
Kitty and the Midnight Hour series by Carrie Vaughn read by Marguerite Gavin

Wee Free Men series by Terry Pratchett read by Stephen Briggs
Terrier series by Tamora Pierce read by Susan Denaker
Sabriel series by Garth Nix read by Tim Curry
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale read by Chelsea Mixon
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling read by Jim Dale

Science Fiction
The Warrior's Apprentice series by Lois McMaster Bujold read by Grover Gardner
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline read by Wil Wheaton
Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld read by Alan Cumming

Secret of the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig read by Kate Reading

One for the Money series by Janet Evanovich read by CJ Critt

anything read by Kate Reading, Rosaylin Landor, Simon Vance, or Scott Brick

Anna, I hope this helps. For everyone else, what do you recommend for someone starting out with audiobooks?

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