By August 12, 2010 3 Comments Read More →

A+ audiobooks

Kaite Mediatore Stover can’t get enough of great books. When she’s not gathering great titles for her “He Reads..She Reads” column with David Wright in Booklist, Kaite’s tracking down the perfect match for patron requests as Head of Readers’ Services for Kansas City Public Library. But in her spare time, she slaps on the headphones and picks an awesome audiobook for her own enjoyment. In true librarian spirit, she couldn’t keep quiet about three new favorites and bounces over here from her Book Group Buzz blog as today’s guest. Take it from here, Kaite…

It only takes one stellar audiobook and the next thing I know I’m committing crimes against nature, food, and bicyclists. Perhaps I should elaborate.

I was listening to Rain Gods by James Lee Burke and narrated by Tom Stechschulte when I realized I’d been taking the long way to the grocery store, the vet, the library. This border-town noir is enthralling. Stechschulte voices every character in this dry-heat Texas mystery and I could keep every one of them separate. From the raspy voice of aging sheriff Hackberry Holland to the creepy whisper of Preacher Jack to the beehive-hairdo-sized drawl of a lady deputy, Stechschulte is obviously enjoying himself with his vocal acrobatics. I must have left a carbon footprint the size of godzilla’s butt on Kansas City the weekend I listened to that.

Then I fired up Raisins and Almonds by Kerry Greenwood and narrated by the vocal virtuoso Stephanie Daniel. Daniel is the audio-creator of Jazz Age jazz baby detective Phryne Fisher, queen of the demi-monde in Melbourne, Australia. Like Stechschulte, Daniel revels in the range of voices. Two cheery, yet serious young girls, chirp their way through Phryne’s household along with a prim-voiced, but loving ladies’ maid. Guest accents for Daniel to play with come in the form a tightly-wound Jewish mother, a soft-spoken Rabbi, a slightly sneery Italian waiter, and a breathy with love young man. Even while baking every thing in the house just to keep listening, I never lost track of who was who. Cat pie, anyone?

Finally, I nearly caused an accident on the local bike path while listening to Sherman Alexie read his novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I was laughing so much I didn’t see where I was going and I couldn’t hear the bike horn. Alexie reaches into his memory to grab the perfect cadences and slang of a teenage boy and his adolescent conundrums involving basketball and his best friend, his girlfriend and the school dance, and his affectionate, if hapless parents. I want to listen to Alexie read Wendy’s drive-thru menu.

Although if he did, I’d probably be causing congestion at the pick-up window, just waiting for him to say “drive through please.”

Well, Kaite’s done her job for me – I have two new great audiobooks to add to my listening pile. And now I want to go back & listen to Sherman Alexie’s Odyssey Award-winning audiobook all over again. Thanks for stopping by, Kaite!



About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

3 Comments on "A+ audiobooks"

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  1.' Brenda Kahn says:

    I had read Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian twice before I heard a teaser chapter of Sherman Alexie reading it. I. Could. Not. Wait. I had booktalked the book to most of the middle school and didn’t generate any interest. When I played part of the first chapter, I had a waiting list for the book.

    I am in love with his voice – the way it pitches up a half-tone when he does dialogue between family and Rowdy, the way it goes real soft and kind of trails off when something incredibly sad happens. So cool.

    I recently listened to him narrate War Dances, a collection of his short stories for adults. It made me pine for the sequel he’s supposed to be writing of Part-time Indian.

    I love the Wendy’s comment. When I like an author, I often say that (s)he could write the phone book and I’d buy it.


  2.' Jessica says:

    Kaite’s right, Daniel’s reading of the Phryne Fisher books is outstanding. I absolutely adore them and despite getting to read the new one, Dead Mans Chest as a galley, I really can’t wait to hear the audio later this fall.

  3.' Sue-Ellen says:

    Great to hear about Kaite’s new favorites. I don’t think I will ever forget Sherman Alexie’s reading of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian as when I began listening, I thought “What is this?” as his cadence, inflections, speech patterns etc are so unexpected. And then of course as I kept listening I was totally enthralled. This remains one of the best audios I have heard. And then to hear Sherman Alexie talk about this Odyssey winner at the Awards ceremony in Chicago was unforgettable as well. This is a “must” title for all audio fans, young and old.

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