Did you know that there are awards for Audiobooks? Every year the Audio Publishers Association sponsors The Audies for the year’s best of the best in audiobook recording. In anticipation and during the buzz of the nominations, LitHousewife has created the Armchair Audies for listeners who want to pick a category (or two or three) to judge for themselves. I loved watching the buzz last year but was still fairly new to audiobook listening. This year I decided to play along by listening to the Solo Narration Male category.
I would louuuuurve to write y’all up a post on each of these audiobooks, but I know that if I do that then this post will never happen. Mostly I still have a tough time writing about audiobooks–listening to audiobooks sometimes feels like watching a season of a TV show rather than watching a movie. The plots are more drawn out than if I had read the words of the book. Does this happen to anyone else? I love audiobooks and I’m so grateful for having started listening to them, but I can’t seem to write about the experience in the same way I can reading paperbooks. #endramble
Title: The Absolutist
Author: John Boyne
Narrator: Michael Maloney
Audio Length: 8 hrs, 36 min
In Short: After The Great War, Tristan journeys to his friend Will’s family to deliver a package of letters written during the war. Through flashbacks, Tristan remembers the events that lead up to Will’s death and the secrets that are deeply entwined in those events.
Thoughts in General: Confession–I listened to this audiobook out of order. When I got to the end of the audio with two sections left I realized that it downloaded from the library out of order. The audiobook moves back and forth in time so it didn’t seem strange to have large jumps in time. I did end up listening to the book in full–just not in the published order. All in all I found The Absolutist a captivating listen and would certainly read it again in print. In the correct order.
Note on the Audio: Michael Maloney’s narration is at times quiet and subdued but the narration also contains a vast emotional range and perfect pacing. For me Maloney’s exacting narration of The Absolutist was the winner of the group.
Title: Beautiful Ruins
Author: Jess Walter
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini
Audio Length: 12 hrs, 53 min
In Short: An Italian hotelier who takes in a frail American actress; a bigtime movie producer looking for the next big thing; a fed-up assistant looking for a way out; an author with a story to tell; a troubled young man yearning for the right path–All these intricately intertwined over five decades.
Thoughts in General: I really enjoyed the unfolding of all the threads in Beautiful Ruins but by the end I found myself wondering what the point of the book was. The journey was wonderful but I had a tough time caring about the destination. People really love this book, though… Think it’s one of those that I might have appreciated more in paper?
Note on the Audio: Where the story and development lacked, the narration shined. Edoardo Ballerini brings Beautiful Ruins and the cast of characters to life. Ballerini’s Italian accents are spot-on (though I did have some troubles believing the British accents) and each character was nearly perfectly depicted. Beautiful Ruins and Edoardo Ballerini provided an excellent listening experience.
Title: Being There
Author: Jerzy Kosinski
Narrator: Dustin Hoffman
Audio Length: 2 hrs, 51 min
In Short: Chance has never left his sheltered home and garden, but when his caretaker passes away he is suddenly thrust in the real world as an all of a sudden philosophical/economical phenomenon.
Thoughts in General: I liked the premise of this short novella–a simple man who doesn’t say much is assumed to be a genius–but in the end Being There didn’t do much for me. I might be more interested in the film production, but not interested enough to seek it out.
Note on the Audio: Dustin Hoffman’s narration of Being There fits well with the tone of the book–his narration is controlled and matter-of-fact but I found it boring and tiresome. The audio was almost a DNF for me but I had to remind myself that it was less than three hours. It was a long three hours.
Title: The End of the Affair
Author: Graham Greene
Narrator: Colin Firth
Audio Length: 6 hrs, 28 min
In Short: Bendrix grapples with his now ended affair to a married woman.
Thoughts in General: See “Note on the Audio.” In sum–I need to read this one with a pencil in hand. I love complex and layered books but struggle with the depth when listening.
Note on the Audio: I’ll just come out and say it, Colin Firth’s voice is incredibly luxurious and dreamy. This is a book I feel I should read rather than listen because the writing is so rich (and I’ve since bought the book to read), but listening to Colin Firth narrate for six hours was a pleasure. His narration was subdued but passionate, measured but paced appropriate, and man oh man that accent. #endswoon
Title: The Tao of Pooh
Author: Benjamin Hoff
Narrator: Simon Vance
Audio Length: 2 hrs, 46 min
In Short: The basics of Taoism as related to Winnie the Pooh and friends.
Thoughts in General: I loved this little audiobook so much that I loaned my library copy to my coworkers and immediately went out and bought the paperbook to have on my shelf and hopefully re-read soon. I loved learning about Taoism but most of all I loved the relations to Winnie the Pooh and the cute little conversations Hoff and Pooh had throughout the book.
Note on the Audio: It is no secret that Simon Vance is a well-loved and highly sought-out voice narrator. Do a search for him on Audible and you’ll come up with 463 results. Had this one been longer than 3 hours I think that Vance would have been my pick for Male Narration winner, but I finally had to factor in the duration into my decision. Vance’s narration is charming and witty and his character depictions are absolutely delightful and believable. I know that when I read the book I’ll carry Vance’s voice with me–and that’s certainly not a bad thing!
Our group decided on Beautiful Ruins and narrator Edoardo Ballerini as the winner for the Solo Male Narration, but my favorite narration was The Absolutist. I have a sneaking suspicion that Beautiful Ruins will take home the actual Audie Award.
The Audies will be announced May 30th. What was your favorite audiobook in 2012? Was it one that is nominated for an Audie?