On audiobooks

Robert Kwasny shares some reflections on audiobooks on the Marginal Revolution blog. Here a few reflections of my own:

  1. Full cast audiobook narrations can be delightful. Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders, with 166 voice actors, is the superlative example, but there are many others.
  2. Comedy books narrated by comedians are great, because you get the delivery as well as the content. Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please, and Bob Newhart’s I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This! are all good examples.
  3. Books where the accent or voice of the book’s narration would ideally be in a very different accent or voice from my own (e.g., from other countries or other regions) can be great if the audiobook narrator gets it right (which they often do in modern audiobooks).
  4. Kwasny mentions that self-help books are poor audiobooks because you can’t skip the boring parts. My solution to this is to listen at higher speeds for books with a lower good content-to-size ratio. I find it a great way to speed through self-help books with some good content but also filler.

A few years ago I wrote a primer for getting started on audiobooks. Most library systems in the U.S. seem to have free audiobooks you can download to your smartphone.

Here are the audiobooks I’ve listened to and enjoyed so far in 2020:

Stories of Your Life and Others audiobook cover art
She Said audiobook cover artThe Smartest Kids in the World audiobook cover artMy Sister, the Serial Killer audiobook cover artDjinn Patrol on the Purple Line audiobook cover artThe Plague audiobook cover artThe Deerslayer audiobook cover artI'm Still Here audiobook cover artThe Emissary audiobook cover artKingdom of Nauvoo audiobook cover artLe Petit Prince audiobook cover art