This Valentine’s Day we’re joining Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah’s Wake, to share the #LoveToListen giveaway. To mark this day of celebration, David Brown shares his favourite audiobooks.
A Different Way of Reading
I’ve always enjoyed books but it is only in recent years that I have become an audiobook convert. My wife, Donna, suggested I give them a try, having been an addict herself for many years. I will admit I approached audiobooks with many reservations but soon found I was listening to more books than reading them. I listened to them whenever I could, be it at home doing household chores or walking to work.
The best audiobooks are those that are not only great stories to begin with but that owe a great debt to their narrators. A really good narrator can enhance a story tenfold, whereas others can severely diminish the experience. For Valentine’s Day I have looked back through all my audiobooks and narrowed my listens down to six great reads. I have chosen these not for the stories alone but because their respective narrators made the experience so much more rewarding.
I would love to hear about your favourite audiobooks and why they stood out ahead of the others so please feel free to comment.
Narrated by Dominic West
I committed the cardinal sin of seeing the movie before reading the book here but it did nothing to diminish this wonderful story. West’s narration was delightful from start to finish as ageing butler, Mr Stevens recounts his long years as a butler and of the housekeeper – Ms Kenton – who has a profound impact on his life.
Narrated by A.J. Jacobs
I’ve read a few of Jacobs’ books and each one is a delight, chronicling a life experiment that he always takes very seriously…sometimes too seriously. Jacobs’ year of following the Bible closely remains his best one for me and his books are at their best when narrated by the author. I listened to one with a different narrator and it just wasn’t the same. You can’t help but find Jacobs endearing as a person though I always sympathise greatly with his poor wife, Julie.
Narrated by Jon Ronson
Comparable to A.J. Jacobs in some respects, Jon Ronson is a journalist who tends to find himself deep in trouble and always at the very heart of his stories of real-life characters and strange occurrences. With his gentle, mild-mannered tone I often wonder how Ronson gets as far as he does with his assignments but each one is often memorable and always amusing. The recent movie Frank is based on one of Ronson’s tales but this collection remains his best work for me.
Narrated by Ray Porter
Quick’s debut novel became an instant favourite for me. It was my book of the year in 2013. It’s a fast read but crams a lot into its pages, being a poignant look at mental illness, family, friendship and a great romance to boot. Porter really brought the story to life by giving voices to each of the characters. He did it so well that those voices are my first associations of the characters now, even after seeing David O. Russell’s Oscar winning adaptation.
Narrated by Joe Barrett
Arguably John Irving’s finest novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany is the moving account of friends – Johnny Wheelwright and Owen Meany – who grow up together with Owen having a significant impact on Johnny’s life. The character of Owen Meany is a unique creation and under Joe Barrett’s respectful narration Owen comes to life beautifully, a boy marred by stunted growth and a high-pitched voice that remains even as an adult. I distinctly remember listening to the book as its conclusion approached and my wife listened in and was soon in tears with me not far behind. It was that good. I’m unsure whether this is my favourite audiobook or whether the honour belongs to The Silver Linings Playbook. If my hand was forced I’d have to go with A Prayer for Owen Meany but it’s very close.
Narrated by John Keating
Though not a five star read for me personally, Skippy Dies has to feature here. As with A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Silver Linings Playbook, the strength of Skippy Dies comes with Keating’s flawless narration and voice acting. The variety of voices throughout a boarding school in Dublin are terrific – from the teachers to the students – with the school’s acting head teacher easily being the funniest of the lot especially when he’s angry.
The #LoveToListen giveaway is sponsored by these audiobooks
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