People wonder sometimes how I survived my youth without watching any movies. In retrospect, I wonder if I would have survived my childhood at all if I had had access to movies. I had books. And I ate them up at an astounding rate. I also had some audiobooks. The library had less audiobooks than books, so I listened less than read. See? No lack whatsoever. My theory is that almost every great movie is an adaptation of a book in some way or another. And, when the adaptation is in existence, the book is still, in almost all cases, better than the book.
But an audiobook. It is a presentation as well. The best audiobooks are speaking productions. Different actors voice the different characters in the recording. But the words are the same as in the original production. And those words are the most powerful. I love reading, but audiobooks force me to slow down and enjoy the story. I read at least four times faster than the audiobook takes to play, so it slows me down and makes me enjoy the story.
The following audiobooks are my favorites. Definitely worth checking out from your local library or buying at audible.
1. Mossflower – by Brian Jacques
It’s a long book. It’s even longer when you listen to it. Eleven and a half hours. But Brian Jacques has a very good talent for writing epic adventures. Otherwise, he would not have created a 23 book saga of adventure books based on anthropomorphic animal adventures. But Mossflower is probably my favorite of the bunch because of the audiobook. The music between the chapters and for the different songs that are presented during the course of the book has been specially composed for this production, and each and every character in the book has a different voice. The story is the story of how Martin the Warrior first came to Mossflower wood and the story of how the legendary sword of Redwall was created. I used to check out the recording over and over again and listen to it while I drifted off to sleep at night. It includes a cool puzzle, a lot of delicious descriptions of food, and both a sea battle and a woodland battle. So definitely a must-read/must-listen.
2. Ender’s Shadow – by Orson Scott Card
I love all the books in the Ender Saga by Orson Scott Card. But my favorite? Ender’s Shadow. Probably the main reason is that I listened to the audiobook long before I actually read the text. And I always have had more empathy with Bean than with Ender. I love the description of the plight of the homeless children in Rotterdam, and love how Bean can always correctly analyze the situation and drives his teachers mad with his knowledge. Ender is always under the control of the teachers; With Bean, however, the teachers are almost at the mercy of him. In Ender’s game, Ender is very introspective. You learn all about Ender, Peter, and Valentine. But his friends? His captains? His toon leaders? You never really know what is going on in their minds. But Bean is so observant, and he makes it his sole objective to study the other children, so in Ender’s Shadow, we not only get to know Bean better, but we also get to know all of the other characters in the saga better.
3. Summerland – by Michael Chabon
I have never been a huge fan of either baseball or the old Native American mythology. But the story is really interesting. It switches between the different characters. Despite how horrible the things that Coyote does are, you still can’t help liking him a little bit. And it is also really cool to see the development of Ethan and Jennifer T. over the course of the story. For audiobooks, it is an absolute necessity that there is a certain amount of adventure. No one wants to listen to a happy-feely junk for 10+ hours. But an adventure story? Exploring another world and running into little people and giants, Sasquatches and Wererats? It keeps you interested and listening. After all, the fate of the world comes down to one last baseball game…
4. Zel – Donna Jo Napoli
I’ve always had a particular love for fairy tales. But in this one, I didn’t even realize that it was a retelling of the fairytale “Rapunzel” until about halfway through the retelling. You listen to the different story from the different perspectives, and the back story is much more interesting than the whole “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair” part of the story. That part of the story probably only takes about twenty minutes. But the rest of the story? Much more interesting. The most interesting part? You know how in the original story you only really care about what happens to Rapunzel? Well…in Zel, you don’t really care that much about Zel. You are more interested in what happens to Conrad (the prince) and Mother (the witch)…