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June is Audiobook Month!

The Audio Publishers Association has declared June to be Audiobook Month–but even before the month started, major news outlets were perking up their ears at the sounds of great stories. In mid-May, The New Yorker ran a piece by John Colapinto called “The Pleasures of Being Read To” that, in a lovely, meandering sort of way, explores the delights of listening to a book, the writer’s personal connections (or not) with specific recordings, the history of audiobooks, and some of the luminaries in the field.

Colapinto specifically mentions how listening to an audiobook can change our feelings about and perception of what we’re reading:

There are exquisite pleasures to be derived from hearing how a talented actor brings forth characters and stories—indeed, often in a way that points up one’s own inner-ear tone deafness to certain books. Not long ago, I rented the audiobook of “The Sun Also Rises” […]

[Actor William] Hurt, eschewing the kind of caricatured, brawny-man speaking style favored by readers-aloud of Hemingway, went for an eccentric, slightly stilted, halting, almost delicate diction as Jake Barnes—a strange-seeming choice that at first clashed badly with my own inner ear but that now, after repeated, delighted listenings, seems like the only way to render Barnes’s voice, since it best accentuates the deadpan hilarity that is too little commented upon in Hemingway. I’d failed to understand, until I listened to Hurt’s performance, just how funny and touching the book is.

A few days later, The New York Times‘s Sunday Book Review column was called “Let’s Go Reading in the Car.” Judith Shulevitz extolls the joys of listening to audiobooks in the car as a family and writes about specific titles that have been especially delightful (and the narrators and actors who have made them so). She closes with the following:

I only wish audiobooks had been this common when I was a child. Listening to them would have made me a better literature student in college and afterward. It was only when I had children and began spending my nights reading aloud and my car drives listening to recordings that I began to understand — I mean really understand — that the only stories worth hearing are made out of voices, not words.

If you’re looking for great audiobooks, whether it’s for your own enjoyment or for a family trip, one good resource is YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults list, which is published every year to highlight outstanding audiobooks for teens. If you’re looking for the newest titles and can’t wait until 2012’s standouts are recognized in January, check out the ones that have been nominated for this year’s list. And if you’ve listened to an audiobook that knocked your socks off and it was published in 2011 or 2012, suggest it to this year’s Amazing Audios committee.

If you want more suggestions for great audiobooks, this month’s YA Forum discussion is Good Audiobooks for Road Trips. Starting today at 10AM EST and continuing through Friday at 3PM EST, you can discuss books for short trips, books for long trips, books when you need a good cry, books when you need a laugh, and books for terrifying journeys with other YALSA members who love audiobooks. Just navigate to the discussion in the YALSA space ALA Connect to join in.

Finally, we’ll bring you more audiobook suggestions throughout the week here at The Hub. Stay tuned!

What is it about audiobooks that makes you enjoy them so much?

— Gretchen Kolderup, chair of the 2013 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee, currently listening to How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr, narrated by Ariadne Meyers and Cassandra Morris

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  1. Jessica M Jessica M

    Oooh! Gretchen, How to Save a Life on audio was really good…such a great listen! I hope you’re loving it. I’m a total audio book addict, now. I got hooked and now I can’t stand being in the car without one. :)

  2. Love this post! I am addicted to audiobooks, and agree with Jessica’s comment above: I can’t stand driving without an audiobook these days. For me, it’s just a wonderful way to make sure I’m always reading, and I just love how a good narrator can enhance a good story.

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