Heard a good book lately?

Janet Clapp

Who doesn’t enjoy listening to a story? Many of us were read to as children, and as parents, we pass on that pleasure. Not only is it entertaining to listen to a book, it can be educational. If the unfamiliar names in Scandinavian crime fiction trip you up, try the audio version. Learning readers can listen to something at a higher level for more complex vocabulary and writing than they can read on their own. In today’s time-crunched world, listening to a book is another way to check off that endless to-read list. While driving to work, gardening, quilting, cleaning, cooking, exercising, painting, or simply relaxing, you can put your ears to good use and take in a book. Furthermore, listening adds another dimension. A good audiobook narrator can enhance the experience by performing different voices for characters and conveying emotion through tone.

Focusing on the readers, here is an assortment of narrators and their works for your listening consideration.

Narrator Jim Dale performs the Harry Potter series, bringing alive with superb voices the multiple characters of the magical stories. Because they are fun for almost everyone, these audiobooks are great choices for long family drives.

George Guidall’s smooth voice is a staple in the audiobook world; he was recording books back when they were produced on cassette tapes. He reads the cozy Cat Who mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun, non-fiction titles such as Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Mayflower,” classics such as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” numerous thrillers, and also teen novels.

Barbara Rosenblatt is a prolific reader who uses tones, timing, accents and, when applicable, humorous delivery to build lively narrations of a variety of novels, from the mysteries of Elizabeth Peters, Linda Fairstein, and Lisa Scottoline to the general fiction of Larry McMurtry.

Sometimes a narrator makes a funny book even funnier. Lorelei King reads many of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum mysteries, and the voices she assigns the humorous characters are memorable.

Although some performers can create a surprising array of voices, there are productions that have different readers for different characters. Philippa Gregory’s “The Boleyn Inheritance” features three narrators, one for each of the three queens whose story is told. Maybe the biggest cast is the recently published “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders. In addition to Saunders himself, over 100 voices read this book, including famous actors Susan Sarandon, Nick Offerman, Julianne Moore, and Jeffrey Tambor.

If you enjoy a British accent, try these two long-time narrators: Simon Prebble and Davina Porter. Prebble executes a wide range of titles including nonfiction, mysteries, and the classic “Island of Dr. Moreau” by H.G. Wells, and Porter reads Anne Perry mysteries, Alexander McCall Smith titles, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books, and many more.

Scott Brick is another often-heard voice in the audiobook world. His clear articulation and well-modulated voice suits all kinds of books, from adventure novels by Clive Cussler, Harlan Coben and Nelson DeMille, to nonfiction such as Ron Chernow’s “Washington: A Life” and “Alexander Hamilton,” and classics like “Fahrenheit 451. Cassandra Campbell utilizes slightly altered tones and pacing to create voices that enable her to read an eclectic mixture of novels, including John Grisham’s “The Whistler,” Chris Bohjalian’s “The Light in the Ruins,” Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help,” and Nina George’s “The Little Paris Bookshop.”

June is audiobook month. The Rutland Free Library offers audiobooks for all ages. For those with CD players, check out audiobooks on CD. If you have a smartphone, computer, tablet, or MP3 player, try downloading audiobooks from the library’s website (www.rutlandfree.org/borrow/download-audiobooks-ebooks/). Whichever format, genre, or reader you choose, happy listening!

Janet Clapp

Janet Clapp is an adult services librarian at Rutland Free Library.

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