Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Audiobook Recomendations

 Infidel written and read by Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a raw, intense memoir of a gutsy young Muslim girl and how her experiences shaped her current political and personal views.  She lets it all hang out and invites us into the inner sanctums of her mind and heart.  It's beautifully written too.  No small wonder that this woman is fluent in three languages and a member of one of the most influential think tanks in the world.  Her reading is as emotional and authentic as her writing. I couldn't imagine this book read by anyone else.

For social commentary masquerading as thriller, try the second book in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy.  The Girl Who Played With Fire brings back the most kickass feminist vigilante in recent literature. Lisbeth Salander is a punkrock computer hacker with a photographic memory and a harrowing past.  She's an intriguing character - intensely vulnerable yet frighteningly capable.  The audiobook is read by the actor Simon Vance without whom I would still be stuck on many of the Swedish names. The pronunciation of "Blomqvist" is worth the cost of admission. He masterfully takes on a stunning array of characters and gives them each an individual voice. 

My good friend Becca works in childrens' publishing, and she turned me onto this one.  Alan Bradley's Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie introduces the charmingly devilish Flavia De Luce, a precocious 11 year-old who solves a murder while plotting dastardly revenge against her pretentious older sisters.  She's inquisitive, clever, peevish- sometimes all at the same time.  Jayne Entwistle reads this one and is just spot on.  Delicious.

Neil Gaiman is a masterful storyteller but his voice has a hypnotic quality that keeps me from really listening.  I drifted through his reading of Stardust (but loved the graphic novel beautifully illustrated by Charles Vess; the movie version was forgettable).  I'm glad he let a pro handle the luscious accents in Anansi Boys, a strange re-imagining of the African Anansi stories. It's classic Neil Gaiman - funny, intriguing and often downright disturbing.  The comedian Lenny Henry reads this one and does such a fantastic job that I would classify it as performance art.  I re-listened to some sections just to savor his storytelling ability.

Looking over this short list, I gravitate towards non-American accented readings.  How about you?  Got any recommendations?  I'm always up for a good story.


  1. i'll have to check out Anasi Boys, it's one i haven't read yet =D

    i liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as an audio book, but i don't really do audio books, so that's really the only suggestion i can make =\


  2. Thanks, Paula. I've heard good things about Jane Austen and the Undead. I'll definitely check itout.