Audiobooks, Top Ten Tuesday, What Shannon Read

10 of My Favorite Audiobooks


Walking home, listening to an audiobook, like I do

Top Ten Tuesday is sponsored by That Artsy Reader Girl.

I’m a day late, but I decided to post anyway. This week’s TTT is a “freebie,” meaning “make up your own topic.” So, because I love a good audiobook, I thought I’d highlight 10 of my faves.

In order for me to stick with an audiobook, I must must must like the reader’s voice, accent, inflection, and style. There are notable exceptions—Sweet Lamb of Heaven, for example, where the story/writing is so good that I’ll tolerate a terrible reader. But, for the most part, the reader is paramount.
So, with that bit of preamble, here we go.

10 of My Fave Audiobooks

049561. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, read by Davina Porter

Historical fiction, romance, sword fighting, and a great reader. The romance gets slightly ridiculous, but hey, that’s why you read this kind of book, for the dramatic departure from real life. And Davina Porter’s reading is on point.

This audiobook was on repeat in the car for awhile when Jake was younger. I think Harris’ voice is burned into my brain. But it’s a delightful book and the narration is fantastic.

Actress Juliet Stevenson is my top favorite reader. There’s something about her British accent. And she’s just great at doing voices without overacting those kinds of things. I’m hoping she’ll record herself reading the phone book someday just so I can fall asleep to it. One good thing about following a great reader is that they usually pick awesome books to read and I can always depend on Stevenson for that.

4. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry, read by Jayne Entwistle

95607Another actress and reader with a fantastic British accent. But Entwistle’s voice is completely different and she really shows what it can do with the various characters in this very British children’s novel. It’s a Victorian boarding school, so you know I’m all about it. Entwistle is another reader I can count on to lead me to great books.

War5. The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, read by Jayne Entwistle

Another Entwistle for your listening pleasure. I adored this story. Usually I don’t pick up stories set in WWII, but this one touched on a topic of interest: children sent away from London during the bombing. The main character, Ada, will tug at your heartstrings from the get-go.

Flight.jpg6. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, read by the author

Kingsolver isn’t my favorite reader, but she does, as the review on audiofile says, nail the main character’s Appalachian twang. And the writing is just so beautiful that I willingly overlooked Kinsolver’s imperfections as a narrator and got sucked into the story.

Kitchen7. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom, read by Bahni Turpin and Orlagh Cassidy

I almost don’t want to write about this book because I loved it so much. I couldn’t do it justice. The story features two narrators as different characters, though the story centers on Cassidy as Lavinia, an indentured servant on a Southern plantation.

Cool story time – I actually emailed author Kathleen Grissom after I finished this book in tears and told her how much it affected me. She wrote back such a warm, kind response. One of my top author interactions ever.

Mare8. The Mare by Mary Gaitskill, read by Kyla Garcia, Christa Lewis, Sean Pratt, and Nicol Zanzarella

This book was more about the story than the readers for me, but, actually, I can still hear Ginger’s voice in my head. And it’s been two years since I listened to this book.

OCT9. The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery, read by the author

Another one where the story did more for me than the reader. Ask Ben. I’m still talking about this book. It’s one of those animal books that makes me want to be a vegan out of respect for the animals in it. But now we know plants have feelings, so if I keep on like this, I’ll have to start photosynthesizing.

BAD10. A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket, read by Tim Curry

Tim Curry is a great reader. I highly recommend listening to the books in the series that he reads. Lemony Snicket himself takes over at some point in the series and Jake and I were upset by this bait and switch.

Note: All links (except for Henry and Ribsy) go to book reviews on Audiofile because I think it’s a fantastic resource for audiobooks.

Here’s a link to the TTT post on That Artsy Reader Girl.

Audiobooks, Fiction, What Shannon Read

Sweet Lamb of Heaven

32191727“Narrated by the author” is one of my least favorite phrases to hear at the beginning of an audiobook. Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet was no exception. Millet’s reading was flat and she swallowed her words at the end of many sentences.

…But that didn’t keep me from listening to this book and I feel like that says something.

This is the first of Millet’s novels that I’ve read and I had no idea how prolific she was until I started looking at her body of work. Millet is a writer’s writer, but lucky for us, she also knows how to move narration along toward a satisfying ending.

In this novel, in particular, we get the story of Anna and her precocious six-year-old daughter Lena, who live semi-permanently in a small hotel in Maine, where they’ve fled from Anna’s philandering narcissist husband Ned.

Since her baby was born, Anna has heard strange voices, which she attributes to auditory hallucination, though she’s otherwise a totally functional human being. Turns out, she’s not the only voice-hearer who’s been drawn to this Maine hotel. She and Lena get to know the protective owner, Don, as well as the other guests.

This is what drew me to the book, honestly. I was hoping for a good ghost story. I didn’t get it, but I honestly didn’t care because I felt such a sympathy for Anna. I loved that she isn’t all that concerned about her looks. She’s smart and a good mother. She’s an introvert whose daughter is an extrovert who brings other people into their orbit with her charm. I feel like I was a bit the same way when Jake was little.

Anyway, turns out Ned is running for office back in Alaska, but, to win the red state, he needs a family by his side. So, he begins to actively pursue the girls, becoming a threatening hound at Anna’s heels until, finally, he shows up one day, intent on bringing them back with him.

The threat of Ned is the main driver of the story—will he capture them or won’t he? And how? But this isn’t a straight thriller. It’s esoteric and doesn’t move as quickly as, say, a Chevy Stevens novel. But you’re also getting more literary bang for your buck.

Here’s the Slate book review if you’d like to learn more.