Theater (Audiobooks)

Of the reasons to dig audiobooks, these make the top of my list:

  • Multitask – Listen while working out at the gym, cooking, etc. – when I’m too busy to read, I can listen while doing other (mandatory) things. Audiobooks can really brighten up tasks that are otherwise boring, too. 
  • Long Trips – I do a moderate amount of traveling each year, but can’t read on planes, buses, etc. because it makes me dizzy. But now, I’m never bored, because of audiobooks. 
  • Reduces eyestrain – I work in front of a computer a lot, so after clocking out I prefer to do things that don’t involve close eye work.

Where to Get Them:

  • Audible.com. The system is kind of annoying – you have to subscribe, with the lowest plan being $15 per month for 1 book per month. (Credits rollover, but the timing’s just annoying.) However, it pairs with the Audible app for smartphones for a listening experience that’s unbeatable – easy to use, with fast, wireless downloading, bookmarks your place, and more.
  • Your Library through Overdrive. Check out digital audiobooks online using your card from the local library. Then download the OverDrive app on your phone. You can download any checked-out title through the app, then listen on your phone. The selection really depends on how large your local library is, but the good news is, it’s all free. 
  • Your Library, actual location. Many libraries have CD’s which you can borrow. You can upload them to iTunes just like any other CD to transfer to your iPod, or copy/paste the files to another MP3 player. Once you’ve loaded it onto your MP3 device, there’s no due dates. However, this can be quite a hassle to import a book that’s split over 10 CD’s (i.e. Hunger Games), and your phone doesn’t track locations like the apps do, so if you pause the book to listen to music, you have to remember your location and find it again. 
  • Other. You can buy them on CD’s or buy on Audible/Amazon without subscribing but and it’s more expensive than all the other options (about $30 per book), and like above, it doesn’t bookmark your place in the title. 

How Wonderland recommendations work:

Recommended = Listening to this performance was even better than reading the book. The narrator voiced the parts in a way that was true to the characters and made the story come alive.

Neutral = Didn’t add to or diminish the experience of the novel.

Not Recommended = The voicing distracted from my ability to get into the story and let the main character become real to me. Usually because the voice reading the novel is simply wrong for the character.

Sometimes the rankings are completely affected by the reader’s effort and ability. Other times, it’s all in the producers’ hands, from those who hired a full cast to voice the different characters, to those who simply assigned the wrong reader for the main character of the novel. (Therefore, there are higher voice-character match expectations for first person narrations.)

My favorite example of this is how, among the various readers of the Vampire Academy series, I didn’t like Emily Shaffer much, and felt that she sounded nothing like the protagonist Rose, and the one highlight was that she did an excellent job with the minor character of Sydney, compared to other readers. Then, abra cadabra, Richelle Mead writes a series centered around Sydney, and Emily Shaffer is called in to narrate. WOW. I thought Bloodlines had an even better audiobook production than Vampire Academy, because Shaffer was the perfect voice for it. (Despite Vampire Academy being a better read.)

Finally, the lists…
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Recommended:
1. My Sister’s Keeper (Full Cast)
2. Bloodlines series (Emily Shaffer)
2. Vampire Academy series (Varies by book, some are better than others but most are good)
3. Twilight saga (Ilyana Kadushin)
4. Harry Potter (Jim Dale)
5. The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner) – beware that this audiobook is abridged)
6. Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism (Kate Burton)

Not Recommended: (Reverse ranked with worst as the first.)
Again, it’s not that these readers are necessarily bad at what they do. It’s usually because a grandmotherly voice saying “I though, What the heck? and then darted up and stabbed the assassin in the gut” just kills the effect.

1. Hunger Games (Carolyn McCormick)
2. Juliet Immortal (Justine Eyre)
3. Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism (Kate Burton)
4. Blue Bloods series (Christina Moore)

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