Audiobooks in August?

read-on-audiobooksThis summer, you can battle for time in your reader’s busy vacation schedules, or you can try to find ways to fit into the season. Since summer is the time for road trips and vacation, why not try a meeting devoted to audiobooks? Long stretches in a car or lounging in a chair with a pair of headphones are the perfect time to give an audiobook a try, even if you never thought of yourself as an audiobook “reader.”

For the meeting, ask each reader to come prepared to talk about their experience with a particular audiobook. Have a computer with speakers or a CD player on hand so that you can sample pieces of the narration. Talk about what you like and don’t like about the narrators: the way they portray different characters, pacing, and the qualities of their voices. Ask your  readers what kind of books keep their attention in this format and in which they tend to get lost. Opinions will vary, but it’s a fascinating discussion.

A perfect guide to the format is Joyce Saricks’ latest, Read On… Audiobooks. Many of us who care about readers’ advisory have written books to help with various genres, but this is the first book that I know of devoted entirely to audiobooks, and the author couldn’t have been a better choice. Many of us who write about books read voraciously, but I know from private discussions that none of us get through more books than Joyce, and when it comes to listening to audiobooks, she doesn’t even have rivals. She’s listened to more books than most of us have read. That means that she has personally experienced and enjoyed every book (330+) she documents here, and that first-hand knowledge shows. With her eclectic tastes, insightful annotations, and tireless work ethic all on display, this is an excellent guide to the world of audiobooks.

As with other titles in the Read On…series, the book is organized into lists that will appeal to particular readers, using elements of appeal such as voice (in this case with a focus on the narrators, not the authors), moods, particular story lines, character types, and settings. This organization makes it easy to focus quickly on books that are likely to appeal to you as a reader (and listener.) I’ve found dozens of titles I want to give a listen, and you will too. You know the guide is well done when you find yourself longing to be a long-drive commuter again so you can get through more audiobooks.

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

3 Comments on "Audiobooks in August?"

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  1. ckubala@columbiactlibrary.org' CarolK says:

    Good idea for a program and discussion. I may not get to this in the summer but will keep it in mind for the future.

    I ordered my copy and can’t wait for it to arrive. Might have missed it if not for your review. My thanks to you and of course, to Joyce and Barry!

  2. atodd@phpl.info' Alex says:

    This is an interesting idea. Sadly, I have several members who flat-out won’t listen to audio books so I’d need to either have the print version available to them, or expect them not to attend that month.

    I have thought about the possibility of an all audiobook discussion club, though. Does anyone do this already? With the advent of downloadable audiobooks, I think it would be much easier to get copies. And discussions bring a different texture to it – how did the narrator’s reading impact your experience? Did you feel the lack of graphics and photos? Do you think this book would be better ‘read’ on paper than audio?

  3. lilahj18@gmail.com' Audio Books says:

    Can’t wait to check out Joyce’s guide- thanks for sharing. Maybe I am just picky but the narrator’s voice is EVERYTHING when it comes to audio books!

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