The Three Best Types of Audiobooks

Over the past couple of years I’ve had a near total polar switch in my reading habits. Now, I listen to audiobooks far more than I read physical books or e-books. Part of this a function of my day job, and part of this is a corrective measure after having a particularly low reading total a few years ago.

Listening to audiobooks offers a different experience but one that can be as equally rewarding.

Today, I want to focus on three types of audiobooks that, in some ways, offer a better experience than their written counterpart.

AUDIOBOOKS THAT ARE READ BY THE AUTHOR

Audiobooks read by the author are often an imperfect experience. Which makes sense, because they aren’t professional voice actors. There may be pitch or speed changes in their voice, there may be an odd time when they take a breath or allow an extra beat between words with tricky sound or syllable match ups. Sometimes they read too fast. These aren’t bugs however, they’re features. What comes through is vigor and personality. Sometimes the experience can be more intimate, because you can hear feelings being conveyed by the words by the person who wrote them. Sometimes an author’s regional accent adds extra dimensions to the reading.

Here’s a couple of examples:

The Lady From the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara

Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth

Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block

I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle

Sula by Toni Morrisob

AUDIOBOOKS THAT HAVE HAVE MULTIPLE 1ST PERSON NARRATIVES

This category is the one that I’m adamant about. Frankly, I’m not yet convinced that most authors can actually pull off multiple first person points of view and make them sound appropriately different. Or, to put it another way, the medium may be limited because the reader is going to read them in a singular voice anyway, so the intended effect is likely lost. Audiobooks can overcome this deficiency and, more importantly, enhance the experience by using a different voice actor for each point of view character in the book. The intended authorial effect is easily achieved and the reader is better off for it.

Here’s a couple of examples:

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jennings Reid (21 different first person narrators)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (166 different first person narrators)

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (14 different first person narrators)

AUDIOBOOKS ABOUT OTHER CULTURES & WITH OTHER LANGUAGES

I suppose this is a special kind of symbiosis. When the author is from a different country or culture, and the narrator is from the same country or culture, the reading experience is enhanced. Some of it has to do with accents and inflections. Some of it has to do with proper pronunciation of words that are likely common in another language or culture, but I have no real world exposure to. A good narrator can also give patois or phonetic dialog the proper rhythm that it deserves (because it is an inherently oral mode of expression and doesn’t always translate well to writing)

Here’s a couple of examples:

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (Narrated by Jason Ryll)

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice (Narrated by Billy Merasty)

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Narrated by Adepero Oduye)

Have you found any audiobooks that may have offered a better experience than it’s written counterpart?