Everyone's got Oscar fever this week, but we're also really excited about another awards ceremony coming up—the 2013 Audies, which recognize distinction in audiobooks.
Finalists were announced by the Audio Publishers Association today, and the winners will be awarded at the Audies Gala on May 30 in New York City. Our own Associate Publisher Julia Steele and Contributing Editor Sukey Howard (who writes our monthly audio column) are serving as judges in the competition.
Here are some highlights from the list of finalists:
• Sex and God at Yale by Nathan Harden (narrated by Scott Aiello), Audible Inc.
• Love Is the Cure by Elton John (narrated by Elton John), Hachette Audio
• Breasts by Florence Williams (narrated by Kate Reading), Tantor Media
• Cemetery John by Robert Zorn (narrated by Sean Runnette), Tantor Media
• The Crisis of Zionism by Peter Beinart (narrated by Lloyd James), Tantor Media
• A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes (narrated by Samuel L. Jackson), Audible Inc.
• The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (narrated by Claire Daines), Audible Inc.
• Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon (narrated by Edoardo Ballerini), Audible Inc.
• Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (narrated by Edoardo Ballerini), Harper Audio
• The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig (narrated by David Aaron Baker), Recorded Books
• America Again by Stephen Colbert (narrated by Stephen Colbert), Hachette Audio
• I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern (narrated by Sean Schemmel), Harper Audio
• The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days by Ian Frazier (narrated by Cynthia Nixon), Macmillan Audio
• Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (narrated by Jenny Lawson), Penguin Audio
• Me the People by Kevin Bleyer (narrated by Kevin Bleyer), Random House Audio/Books on Tape
• Don't Cry for Me by Sharon Sala (narrated by Kathe Mazur), Audible Inc.
• The Witness by Nora Roberts (narrated by Julia Whelan), Brilliance
• Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt (narrated by Ashford MacNab), Hachette Audio
• The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley (narrated by Angela Dawe), Tantor Media
• Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks (narrated by Kristen Potter), Tantor Media
• Hush Money by Chuck Greaves (narrated by Dan Butler), AudioGo
• The Good Thief's Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan (narrated by Simon Vance), AudioGo
• And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman (narrated by Linda Emond), Macmillan Audio
• The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (narrated by Ralph Cosham), Macmillan Audio
• The Nightmare by Lars Kepler (narrated by Mark Bramhall), Macmillan Audio
See the full list here (PDF link). What do you think of the finalists? Which audio books of the last year were your favorites, and are there any that you feel were snubbed? What books are you listening to right now?
Moby Dick—the great American novel, right? But here's my secret: I've never read it! And apparently, neither have many Americans. With 135 chapters and a word count of 211,735, it's not exactly a lazy afternoon read. But if you, like me, have always meant to pick up Herman Melville's masterpiece, the Moby-Dick Big Read is a wonderful (and free) way to experience the novel.
Here's what the website says:
Deeply subversive, in almost every way imaginable, Moby-Dick is a virtual, alternative bible – and as such, ripe for reinterpretation in this new world of new media. Out of Dominion was born its bastard child – or perhaps its immaculate conception – the Moby-Dick Big Read: an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, publicly and freely accessible.
What do you think about the Moby-Dick Big Read? Do you think it's a good way to introduce new audiences to Melville's great novel, or would you rather read on your own?
In M.L. Stedman's debut novel The Light Between Oceans, a husband and wife are faced with a choice: to keep an abandoned baby as their own or to go to the local authorities to find the truth, ruining their chance at parenthood. Intriguingly, the author does not lobby for a right or wrong answer and instead explores the consequences of their life-altering decision.
In a Q&A with BookPage, Stedman explains:
I don’t think there are any “bad guys” in the book, just some poor choices made on the basis of imperfect information or perspective (i.e. the lot of the standard-issue human)... I didn’t want there to be any “safe place” in the book where the reader could relax and say, “I’m completely sure of what the right thing to do is here.”
The book trailer, narrated by Stedman, speaks further about the questions of right and wrong the author is asking:
Will you check out The Light Between Oceans? What would you do in the couple's situation?
One of our picks in audio this month is The Nightmare by Lars Kepler, the pseudonym of a Swedish writing couple. This sequel to Hypnotist will not disappoint and the audio version only adds to the suspense (no skimming ahead or skipping to the end). Our reviewer writes:
Linna... is faced with two odd deaths: the drowning of peace activist Penelope Fernandez’s sister, found in dry clothes on an abandoned pleasure boat, and the suicide or murder of the overseer of Swedish weapons exports. As Linna begins to connect the deaths, he and his team burrow into a brutal world of political cover-ups and covert arms shipments directed by a merciless Italian weapons dealer who revels in the havoc, mental and physical, that he wreaks.
Will you check out The Nightmare? What other novels are keeping you up at night?
A Century of Wisdom tells the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, a woman who is inspiring both for what she has survived, and how she continues to live. Reviewer Sukey Howard writes:
Alice Herz-Sommer is 108 years old, the oldest Holocaust survivor and the oldest living concert pianist. She still plays the piano every day, she still laughs and still believes that life is a gift.
Does Alice Herz-Sommer inspire you?
Last year, I had the privilege of hearing Etgar Keret read from his latest collection Suddenly, a Knock on the Door at Vanderbilt’s visiting writers series event. This year, we can all have the pleasure of hearing celebrities, actors and literary greats—Josh Radnor, Willem Defoe, Aimee Bender, George Saunders and many others—make these stories come to life in the new audiobook.
Etgar Keret, an Israeli author/filmmaker, is known internationally as a writer of short, fantastical, and extremely funny stories that are sure to have you laughing and thinking at the same time. In the collection’s title track, the narrator (Keret) attempts to tell a story to appease the demands of three male gunmen. The tale satirically pokes fun at the often anxiety-filled experience of writing, and as a writer myself I can definitely relate.
Here’s the title track, Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, read by Ira Glass:
Will this audiobook make it onto your MP3 player?
Many of you will spend hours in the car as you journey to visit family and friends during the holidays. Why not make the most of your transit time and listen to an audio book? Our top 10 picks for 2009 span from tear-jerker novel to complex financial scrutiny, all chosen by BookPage audio columnist Sukey Howard.
Rain Gods by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster Audio)
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (Random House Audio)
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Penguin Audio)
The Shawl and Rosa by Cynthia Ozick (HighBridge Audio)
The Women by T.C. Boyle (Blackstone Audio)
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (Random House)
David Sedaris: Live for Your Listening Pleasure by David Sedaris (Hachette Audio) -- Review coming soon in the January issue of BookPage
Fool’s Gold by Gillian Tett (Tantor)
Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley (Hachette Audio)
Panic by Michael Lewis (Simon & Schuster Audio)
Do you have any audio books to add to this list? Tell us in the comments.
Summer isn't over yet; there's plenty of time left for a fantastic trip to foreign lands and faraway places. If you're planning one and you'd like to meet and greet the locals in their own lingo, you can learn just enough to earn broad smiles, approving compliments and even order a beer.
To this noble end, the fine folks who have made the Pimsleur Method available on audio for many years, now offer goPimsleur. This fast, friendly series, which is officially released today, lets you get your head and your tongue around a foreign language in just four hours—with one 30-minute lesson per day. Half an hour, while you're driving, working out, cooking or taking a break, is doable, fun and instantly rewarding. You can hear yourself improve with every lesson, from saying "danke schoen," or "merci" to asking a new friend to share a meal.
You won't be discussing Sartre or Cervantes in their native tongues, but with goPimsleur you'll have a base and a beginning whether you're headed for Madrid, Moscow or Marseilles, Rio, Rome or the Rhineland.
July 18 marks Nelson Mandela's 91st birthday, and in celebration Hachette Audio is releasing a remarkable three-disc audio version of Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales.
The 23 tales from across the African continent, all wonderfully enhanced with traditional African music and music composed for this audio, are read by an amazing array of international performers, including Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Whoopi Goldberg, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Debra Messing, Helen Mirren, Sophie Okonedo, Alan Rickman, Charlize Theron, Blair Underwood, Alfre Woodard and Forest Whitaker, who donated their time and talent.
The elaborate bonus materials include beautiful pieces of artwork to accompany each story, along with a hand-drawn map of Africa. Profits from the audiobook will go to ANSA, Artists for a New South Africa, a nonprofit working in South Africa and the U.S. to combat HIV/AIDS, and The Nelson Mandela Chidren's Fund, so while you and your family listen to these entrancing stories, you'll be contributing to a very good cause. The book's website lets you listen to a free sample.