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.