There’s some debate and snobbery surrounding the consumption of audio versus print books. “Audiobooks are CHEATING” shrieks my Facebook friend with lots of opinions. “It’s not the SUPERIOR way to read books” barks the Reddit random. Being a librarian, I am thrilled to pieces when people are reading books no matter what the format. Not all of us can absorb information the same way. Audiobooks are a godsend for those of us with poor eyesight, dyslexia, or other barriers that make reading print a struggle. Personally, I just enjoy listening to someone read. Below, I listed four audiobooks I listened to and loved in 2020.
Someone we know by Shari Lapena (2019)
My favorite murder mysteries feature multiple points-of-view, unreliable narrators, and my complete inability to pinpoint the murderer in advance of the last chapter. The work of Shari Lapena fits those parameters to a T. Someone We Know is the fourth book of hers I’ve read. I borrowed it from Overdrive. There was a bit of a wait for the title because she is a fairly popular author and everyone plus their dog are looking for ways to beat COVID boredom. It doesn’t take a market analyst to guess that audiobook consumption skyrocketed over the past year, and that is sometimes reflected in Overdrive wait times. Not to fret, Mead also provides the community with access to Hoopla which offers audiobooks, ebooks, movies, TV, and NO wait time. Which leads me to the next book on my list…
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) by Becky Chambers (2014)
Are there any sweeter words than “space” and “opera” when paired together? The answer is: NO. By that token, Becky Chambers rules my heart. She is out here writing some of the best science fiction of the 21st century and y’all are missing out if you’re not on board the good ship Wayfarer. Chambers’ world-building is vivid and engaging. Her diverse cast of characters, human and otherwise, leap off the page, and I was sad to say goodbye at the end of the book. Fortunately, there are already three books in the Wayfarers series with another forthcoming in 2021. AND and and and the three already in print are all available on Hoopla in audio form. What’s so great about Hoopla? How is it different from Overdrive, for instance? Let me tell you the defining trait that makes Hoopla rad: no wait time. While you are limited to 10 check-outs per month, you will not spend a single second waiting for them to be available.
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear (2015)
This is the steampunk California gold rush-era queer scifi/fantasy that you never knew you needed to read. Narrator Jennifer Grace imparts a soft, appealing twang to Karen’s voice as we watch her find and use her strength to save herself and her friends from the designs of evil men. I was pleased to find Karen Memory for check-out on RBDigital. This platform provides audiobooks in addition to a HUGE array of magazines. RBDigital is our least-utilized digital service behind Overdrive and Hoopla, but that means most titles will not have a wait-time and check-out periods are for 3 weeks! I have good luck finding genre fiction such as mysteries, scifi, and fantasy on RBDigital, so it’s really worth a look.
The Bad Seed by William March (1954)
I kept trying to get my colleagues to run this title for a book club, but to no avail. After listening to it recently, maybe that was for the best due to the less-than-hopeful ending and terrible acts within. Little Rhoda Penmark may only be in the 2nd grade but has gotten her criminal career well underway. The alternately tremulous and forceful narration provided by Elizabeth Wiley created a satisfying push/pull between the deeds of the sinister daughter and the hand-wringing of the hapless mother. Together with some fascinating ruminations on the nature of evil, The Bad Seed mostly stands up to the test of time. Available on Hoopla.
Which audiobooks have you been listening to lately? What do you do when you listen? I like to go for walks or listen while I cook dinner. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you are in need of assistance while you learn to use our digital services. We are also happy to provide reading recommendations, as well, if you’re in a rut. Happy listening!