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Celebrate Audiobook Month with David’s Picks!

By David Otten

I love audiobooks. Even as an adult, I have not outgrown the magic of someone reading aloud to you. June is Audiobook Month, and to celebrate, I thought would share a few of my personal favorites.

Calypso by David Sedaris features his signature off-beat sense of humor. In Calypso, Sedaris is a bit more ruminative than usual as he reflects on aging and relationships within his family after a sibling’s death. Appropriately, this book is narrated by Sedaris himself. If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing him read live or even listened to a piece of his on the radio, you already know you are in for a treat.

 

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is a weird and beautiful novel. The audiobook features a star-studded cast of 166 narrators. The cast includes Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Susan Sarandon, Carrie Brownstein, Don Cheadle, Ben Stiller and David Sedaris, to name just a few of the more notable narrators. This experimental novel has a unique structure with echoes of a stage play. This can be a little bit confusing at first, but I found that the full cast recording helped me to keep the many characters straight and to follow the narrative. Overall, this novel is well worth the effort, it at turns had me bursting with laughter and holding back tears. This was the 2018 Audie Award Book of the Year.

The Young Adult fantasy-adventure novel, La Belle Sauvage or The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman features a perfect performance from Michael Sheen. Sheen relies on his acting chops to embody multiple characters, giving each a unique voice. His narration also expertly matches the pace of the novel. Sheen speeds up his reading for some of the more intense action scenes and the listener really feels the increase in tension. The Book of Dust is the first in a series that serves as a prequel to Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. This was my favorite since the first book in that previous trilogy, The Golden Compass.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of my favorite Neil Gaiman novels. Much of that is due to the audio production, which is read by Gaiman himself. Neil Gaiman is a gifted storyteller and his narration here proves that his storytelling talents are on equal footing whether he is behind a typewriter or telling ghost stories around a campfire. Gaiman’s reading will have you rapt with attention for this story of childhood memories, awesome and terrible forces from worlds beyond our own, and a duck pond that may be an ocean.

Atul Gawande is a surgeon, writer, and CEO. You can add audiobook narrator to his considerable list of talents. His book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End is about the difficult subjects of aging and end of life care. However, Gawande tells stories that he has encountered in his medical practice with incredible sensitivity and humility. His narration further develops the affirming tone of this book and serves as an example of how we can all be better about talking about these difficult subjects.  

Summer time is time for family vacations and audiobooks for the whole family are one great way to provide some entertainment for a long drive. One of my family’s favorites is The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. Read by veteran narrator Graeme Malcolm, he brings DiCamillo’s many wonderful characters to life.


See more of David's picks.