Wrapping Up 2016: Audiobooks


I listen to a lot of audiobooks: when I’m trying to rack up those 10,000 steps, when I’m riding my bike, when I’m driving, and when I’m cleaning house (listening to books is the only way I can trick myself into cleaning). In fact, I purchased 52 audiobooks this year. These are some of my favorite authors, books and narrators.

Eoin Colfer is an Irish writer from Wexford, perhaps best known for his middle-grade series, Artemis Fowl. He is frequently narrated by John Keating, one of my favorite narrators, who also narrates for English writers such as Dick Francis. This year, I listened to enjoyed to Plugged and Screwed, two adult mysteries, and Airman, another middle-grade coming-of-age book about a boy who grew up in a castle and fell in love with a princess.

John Banville/Benjamin Black is another Irish author from Wexford. Under the name, John Banville, he writes literary novels. I read The Blue Guitar recently, thin plot but lush exposition. I found myself highlighting quite a bit of it. As Benjamin Black, he writes the Quirke series set in 1950’s Dublin with a protagonist who is a drunken medical examiner, Dr. Quirke. What’s there not to like? The Quirke series, being mysteries, has more plot and less lush exposition but occasionally, he takes your breath away. I read the last one first and the listened to the first one and regret it. I recommend you listen or read them in order. He is also narrated by John Keating.

Code Name Verity by American, now living in Scotland, Elizabeth Wein. I’m still thinking about the two young female British protagonists who find themselves dropped into World War II and become unlikely friends. The characters in this book are so sharply drawn, I wished I had known them in real life.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only just become acquainted with the works of the late Douglas Adams, the author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I listened to one of the books in that series, which has smart and funny comments on writing and publishing, as well as the two Dirk Gently books, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and Long Dark Tea-Time of The Soul. Like Hitchhikers, the Dirk Gentlys seem like fluffy comedy but Adams was a bright and observant man whose funniest jokes are his shrewdest.

In addition to John Keating, I would listen to anything narrated by Gerard Doyle, who has done many of Stuart Neville’s books and has an uncanny ability to distinguish several different provincial Irish accents, and Hugh Fraser, Captain Hastings in the Poirot series. I just finished listening to Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and loved it.

Happy Holidays and see y’all on the other side of 2016.


10 thoughts on “Wrapping Up 2016: Audiobooks”

  1. I keep thinking that audiobooks are the way to go for my commute. Admittedly, it’s not that long, but I keep feeling like I need something different (this morning it was Lady Gaga). I tried silence and I fall asleep – not good while driving! Of course, I’m not sure I can concentrate on words when I drive, either.

    And I’m so picky about narrators. I’ll have to check out stuff with John Keating.


  2. Great post, Keenan! I wish I could listen to audio books, but I always end up zoning out and losing track of the story. Although I’m always interested to hear how a narrator can affect people’s opinions about a novel. So glad you enjoyed Code Name Verity–that’s one of my faves 🙂


  3. Great post! I love audiobooks. I can’t listen to them with kids in the house, but someday they’ll be older and I’ll try again.


  4. LoML and I listen to audiobooks whenevere we take a road trip. When I had eye surgery in September, I downloaded Overdrive on my phone and feasted on audiobooks. It was wonderful to sit back and close my eyes and be transported without doing a thing, even turn a page!

    My books are available on audio, and I’m hoping my new manuscript, when it’s published, gets picked for a stipend again. It makes it ever so much easier to find a narrator. But what I really wish is that I could afford to have it narrated twice. I always find things that need changing when I listen to a human being (not text-to-speech) read my words.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am also a lover of audio books. I listen daily as I run, (well, not run really), as I stroll thoughtfully through the neighborhood enjoying the sights of the city. I find that narrators can make or break an audio book. I just returned from vacation, and listened to my audio books on the plane and while waiting (and waiting, and waiting,) in the airport. I also got myself a new pair of Bluetooth headphones that I just love. (no more nasty, tangled cord)

    I like books that have primarily female characters to be read by a woman, not a man. I find that many, many women narrators can mimic male characters’ voices well, but few male narrators can do a good job with female characters’ voices. I even had to stop listening to one audio book because the male narrator gave all the female characters pretty much the same “voice,” and it was whiny and nasally and just awful. I e-mailed the author, and she thanked me for the feedback and said she would pass it along to the narrator.

    Text-to-speech is a nice tool for composition and editing (it says what you wrote instead of what you THINK you wrote), but it just won’t do for listening to a book. The inflections and nuances of speech just aren’t there with T2S.

    I just finished listening to “The Women in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware on audio read by Imogen Church, and loved it. I have just started “The Devil in White City” by Erik Larson, read by Tony Goldwyn and I am enjoying it as well. It’s a different choice for me, and I would not have picked this book on my own, but a friend recommended it. I am really learning a lot about the Chicago World’s Fair.

    Of course, who could pass up Hercule, or any of a number of other Chrisie’s “Christmas” themed books at this time of year? Love them again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 3 no 7: Me too! If I can’t stand the voice, I won’t listen to the book. There are certain narrators I won’t listen to at all. Now, before I purchase, I listen to a sample to make sure it’s someone I can sit through — or maybe even like!


  6. I have never been able to develop the taste for audio books. My mind wanders down all the paths the narrator opens and I find by the time I’ve retraced my mental steps, the story has moved on and I have no idea where it went. I may try it again though, as I would be an excellent solution for those 10,000 steps!


    1. I hit “bookmark” periodically in case that happens to me. And it does. That way I can go back to the last bookmark. I didn’t realize how often I drift and digest passages when I’m physically reading a book and how hard it is to pay attention.


  7. I love audio books and listen while I sew. It has to be the right kind of story that allows my mind to drift periodically. My last favorite was The Rosie Project. Terrific reader!

    Liked by 1 person

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