I usually listen to a handful of audiobooks each year, but since beginning the Dewey reading project, I have been listening to a lot more. Listening to books will be a great way for me to get through and additional 15 or 16 books in a year, I think.
I have never had anything against audiobooks, although I have listened to a few that were so terrible (the reading, tone of voice, etc) that I had to quit listening, even if it was a book I wanted to read that I couldn’t track down on paper as easily. I usually just chose music instead of reading when I drove.
Now that has changed, and in the course of that change, I have discovered a few audiobooks that are absolutely wonderful. A couple of them are even better on audio than in print, in my opinion, but I won’t tell you which ones those are because I’ll get yelled at.
Here are some great audiobooks. By great I mean that the performances are impressive and engaging, the story or work is not diminished or diluted in any way by the transfer, and they grab my attention and insist that I listen, not read the billboards on the roadside.
*In the future, I’m going to make it clear whether I’m reviewing the audio version of a book.
The Hobbit on audio
The Recorded Books version. Until I listened to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, I had prety much skipped over all of the songs. In the audio version, you can actually hear the dwarves singing. I don’t know why I focus on that, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed that part of the book, as long as I was listening.
The reading of The Hobbit is a performance. It really is.
1984 on Audio
Here is my review of 1984. On audio, again the Recorded Books version, I was even more hypnotized than usual–I read this book about every other year. Probably always will.
When things get really scary in the final act of 1984, the voices amplify the dread of the pages by a, well, maybe exponentially isn’t the right word, but it works. If the guy barking at Winston was barking at me in that same voice, I’d be just as miserable and timid as Winston is by the end.
And it’s one guy reading all the voices! I’m always so amazed by that, maybe because the only good impression I can do is James Hetfield from Metallica. No joke.
If you don’t already like Don Quixote, the recorded book probably make you like it more. If you love it as much as I do, I hope you’ll also adore the Recorded Books version. For the record, I think Don Quixote is one of the funniest books in existence. Every page makes me laugh. Every single page.
On audio, the voice of Don Quixote, regardless of what it is saying, also makes me laugh. And of course, everything the voice says is funny as well.
And if you thought Sancho sounds tired in the book by about page 20, you’ll really get a feel for his weariness when you hear his voice.
And now over to you. Assuming you listen to books, have there been any that you think are worth pointing out, for good or bad? More great audio books?
Update: I just listened to The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson and it’s one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever heard.
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