The editors of AudioFile Magazine have released their selections for Best Audiobooks of 2017. AudioFile is a publication that reviews and recommends audiobooks, taking into account all the things that make an audiobook enjoyable: a great story, of course, but also the skillful pacing, structure, and narration that make them worth listening to. (Full disclosure: I am a reviewer for AudioFile, mainly for romance books, and I have received free audiobooks from them to provide honest reviews). I have perused the dozens of audiobooks selected as “best”, and winnowed them down to three favorites in six categories, click on the titles to read more about each one. Consider this a jumping off point, audiophiles!
- Beartown by Frederik Backman, read by Marin Ireland.
- Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, read by Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Rutina Wesley, Chris Chalk.
- Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, read by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris and George Saunders, with a full cast that includes Carrie Brownstein, Don Cheadle, Kat Dennings, Lena Dunham, Bill Hader, Miranda July, Mary Karr, Keegan-Michael Key, Julianne Moore, Megan Mullally, Mike O’Brien, Susan Sarandon, Ben Stiller, Jeffrey Tambor, Jeff Tweedy, Bradley Whitford, Patrick Wilson, and Rainn Wilson.
MYSTERY & SUSPENSE
SCI-FI, FANTASY, HORROR
The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman is a unique twist on the Sleeping Beauty story. Sleeping Beauty and the people in her castle have been asleep for years. However, this sleeping sickness seems to be spreading. First, the nearby villages fall asleep, then the villages near them, and so on. Soon, the entire kingdom is asleep, and it’s up to three dwarfs and the queen of the neighboring kingdom to figure out how to put an end to the curse.
This story has an ingenious blend of fairy tales. For instance, the queen is a character from another story. I’ll just say that she is someone who has also been asleep for a long time and let you figure out who she is. There are also additional elements to the story that help flesh it out. Those who are asleep do more than sleep, an old woman who is trapped inside the castle and immune to the curse, and the more one delves into the story, the more it becomes apparent that the details of the Sleeping Beauty that appear in each retelling are not what they seem. Not to mention that the ending will leave you thinking, “Wait, what? What just happened?” Overall, this is a quick read that goes more in-depth than one would think the amount of pages would allow.
Setting: A fairy tale land in an unspecified historical era.
Number of pages: 66
Objectionable content? A small amount of violence, one death, an occasional corpse, and unsettling factors (i.e. the sleepers)
Can children read this? Yes, as long as they are not easily upset by unsettling elements in stories. However, this book is best for teenagers and adults.
Who would enjoy this? Anyone who enjoys Neil Gaiman’s other works, and anyone who enjoys fairy tale remakes.
Themes: Beauty, power, loss, choices, strong women, and the need to control other’s emotions vs. the strength of only feeling your emotions.
Rating: Five stars
As of November 10, 2015 Neil Gaiman is 55 years old. He is a supporter of libraries, the arts, and is everything that this librarian could want in an author. Neil is the author of books from a wide range of genre’s, and for every age group. His body of work is extensive, and includes many groundbreaking volumes. He is also the father of three children from his first marriage, now grown adults, and a new baby just born on September 16 with his wife Amanda Palmer who is a singer, song writer, performance artist, and author. To make him even cooler in my eyes, he is also good friends with singer/songwriter Tori Amos and godfather of her daughter. I am admittedly a bit of a fangirl.
Gaiman began his writing career in England as a journalist. His first book was a Duran Duran biography that took him three months to write, and his second was a biography of Douglas Adams, Don’t Panic: The Official Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion. Soon afterward he collaborated or creating in graphic novels such as Violent Cases, Black Orchid, and Sandman. Over the years he has added picturebooks, children’s fiction, adult fiction, television, film, and theater to his body of work. This includes writing for one of my favorite shows, Doctor Who. He also does the narration for most, if not all, of the audiobook versions of his work.
Neil and his works have won many nominations and awards over the year. A few of the awards include: Kurt Vonnegut Jr Award For Literature, Boston Public Library Literary Lights For Children, CBLDF Defender of Liberty, The “Galaxy” Award (China) for Most Popular Foreign Author, Horn Book Honors, Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books, ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth, Hugo Award, IndieBound Award, and many, many more.
Here is a sampling of his works, though far from comprehensive. They are in no particular order.
Chu’s First Day of School
Chu’s Day at the Beach
The Wolves in the Walls
Instructions: Everything you’ll Need to Know on your Journey
Children’s and Young Adult Books:
Fortunately, the Milk
M is for Magic
The Graveyard Book
Hansel & Gretel: a Toon Graphic
Odd and the Frost Giants
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains
The Books of Magic
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Make Good Art Speech
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
Neil Gaiman’s Lady Justice. Vol. 1