7 Full-Cast Audiobooks that are like theater for your ears

Did you know that June is Audiobook Month? There’s no denying the increasing popularity of audiobooks. And within the format, there are many different styles of narration to be had. To use a food analogy,  while the author creates the original recipe, the narrator is responsible for presenting the finished meal in the most appetizing way possible. Most often, a single narrator takes on the task of bringing a story to life, but occasionally a story lends itself to a more theatrical telling, and that’s when a full cast narration can be so much fun.

Full cast recordings can often take on the feel of an old-fashioned radio show, and the best ones are like listening to a Broadway play. If you’re missing the experience of attending the theater,  try one of these full-cast audiobooks that are almost as good as a trip to the theater.  They’re available for Cheshire Library cardholders from RBdigital.

1. The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, starting with The Golden Compass. The author, himself an excellent narrator, anchors these stories, with a full cast assuming all the speaking roles. It’s outstanding, and the full cast makes it easy to distinguish between the many characters that populate this series.

2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The original American full dramatization as broadcast on National Public Radio, this really is the recording of a radio show. Bilbo Baggins, a gentle hobbit who loves the comforts of home, reluctantly joins a company of dwarves on a journey to recover plundered gold from a fierce dragon.

3. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.  The author acts as narrator, with an all-star supporting cast. Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, David Sedaris, Susan Sarandon, Bill Hader, and 160 more cast members breath life into the  story of President Lincoln spending a night of mourning at the crypt of his eleven-year-old son.

4. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Gallant. This sci-fi/thriller/fantasy/historical/mystery about a  shadowy government agency–the Department of Diachronic Operations – and the discovery that magic was once real and could be again, comes alive with a “magical’ cast of narrators.

5. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. Fans of the true-crime genre will devour this fictional tale that explores the events and characters surrounding by the 1976 attempted assassination of Bob Marley. The cast of characters are vividly portrayed by a terrific group of narrators.

6. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This audiobook chronicles the rise and fall of a fictional rock band in the 1970s, and boasts an impressive cast of narrators, including Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, and Judy Greer, among others.

7. Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce. Narrated by the author and fleshed out by a talented cast of character actors, the first book in Pierce’s wonderful Circle of Magic series introduces the listener to four young misfits with a talent for magic, and is a treat for all ages.

 

8 Reasons to Love Audiobooks (Or Give Them a Try)

Ever notice how your list of books to read never seems to get any shorter? For every title I cross off my list, three more appear, and at this rate it’ll take me at least 20 years to completely finish (I know because I’ve calculated it). I lose precious reading time to obligations like commuting, feeding myself, and keeping my living space somewhat clean. But I recently started listening to audiobooks, and I was able to turn those obligations into perfect opportunities to whittle down my list. I can now go through a book in one day and still get the laundry done!

We have a bunch of books on CD here at the library, but I prefer downloading audiobooks with the OverDrive app on my smartphone. I hook up my phone to my car stereo and don’t have to fumble with CDs while I’m on the highway, and I can keep listening indoors without having to drag a pile of discs with me. Another upside to downloading: no fees! Digital items disappear automatically when the loan period expires so you’ll never get hit with late charges, plus you can’t scratch them up or lose them under a car seat.

Here are some more reasons to love audio:

1) Multitask like a boss. Start up an audiobook and chores will suddenly become much more enjoyable. You can spend an afternoon reorganizing your closets while also tackling titles on your to-read list, like Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair read by Colin Firth. You may even find yourself actually seeking out more chores so you can continue listening!

2) Cut your screen time. After a long workday in front of a computer screen, do you really want to veg out in front of another glowing blue screen? Light mysteries like the books in Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series (A is for Alibi, B is for Body, etc.) offer nice background noise without disrupting your sleep.

3) A good narrator enhances your experience of the book. Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is a funny book, but it’s even better when you hear her narration. An adept narrator enhances humor, drama, and other emotions in ways that you can’t replicate when your eyes are zooming across the page. Augusten Burroughs’ memoir Dry had me laughing hysterically one minute, then weeping the next.

4) Long drives seem shorter. It’s tough to stay alert when you’re driving alone, at night, on a really boring road (I’m thinking of you, New Jersey interstate). Picking up something long like The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak will keep your brain engaged and will make any long drive more endurable. Similarly, long workouts on the treadmill are less arduous when you have a plot to engage your mind.

5) Audiobooks are interactive. Have you been on the waitlist for the print copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo? You can download it right now through Hoopla and experience the magic by listening to the audio – while simultaneously tidying up! I’ve also found myself talking out loud to characters in suspenseful audiobooks like Tana French’s The Secret Place.

6) Long, difficult books can be less daunting in audio. Everyone has those “I’d like to read it, but I probably will never get around to it” books. I would never realistically have finished the 917-page behemoth of Roots, but it only took me a couple weeks to reach the end of disc 24.

7) You might actually retain more. There’s a theory that you retain more information when listening because your brain doesn’t have to work as hard at creating imagery. I used to think I would have a problem remembering what happened in audiobooks, but then I remembered all the times I’d looked up from reading a printed book and realized I didn’t remember any of the last six pages. It’s just bound to happen, I think (no pun intended).

8) You’ll realize you’ve been pronouncing a word wrong your entire life. Interminable. Prerogative. Indefatigable. Cache. Aluminum has five syllables?! Oh wait, nevermind, the narrator is British.

Now here’s how to get the audiobooks mentioned:

Do you currently listen to audio books? If not, do you think you’ll give them a try?