"Reading" an Audio Book!
Hi, readers! My love of reading means I carry a book with me wherever I go. Long waits and long lines don't bother me as long as I can catch up on my reading. But...you can't read a book while you're driving, and it's not a great idea to have your nose in a novel when you're walking! Happily, the wonderful invention of audio books has solved this problem. I can hit the highway and hear something other than the radio or my own (not very good) singing. I became a fan of this new way to "read" the instant I heard my first audio book.
When I started listening to audio books, I experimented with the different genres to see what types of books best suited me, and I concluded that I most enjoyed having a good mystery read aloud to me. Nowadays, I keep one audio book going in the car (I listen to it even if I'm only driving a mile or two), and a second book in the portable CD player that I take along when I walk my dog, Sadie. (No, I don't have an iPod!)
As an author and an audio book fan, I was happy each time I learned that one of my own books was going to be released in audio book format. A Corner of the Universe is one of my favorite books, so I was thrilled to hear that the person chosen to read it was theater/film actress Judith Ivey. I've always been a fan of her work, especially of the character she played on Designing Women, one of my favorite television shows from many years ago. A Corner of the Universe is a difficult book to read, because while the story is told in first person in Hattie's voice, the reader also needed to be able to portray Adam, who is mentally challenged. Ms. Ivey did an incredible job with these complex characters.
Judy Kaye read Here Today, which is set in the 1960s at the time of the assassination of President Kennedy. I happened to be very familiar with her previous works, as she is the reader for a popular mystery series that I absolutely love. She did a wonderful job telling Eleanor (Ellie) Roosevelt Dingman's story.
When it came time to select the reader for A Dog's Life: The Autobiography of a Stray, I listened to several audio samples. I was not familiar with Wendy Dillon, but I remember the first time I heard her reading. I was amazed. Wendy's warm, resonant voice made me feel as if I were sitting in front of a fireplace in the wintertime. I felt instantly that she would be the perfect narrator for Squirrel, a dog who maintained a gentle spirit even through hard times.
Likewise, David Pittu was the perfect narrator for Squirrel's brother Bone in
Everything for a Dog. As with Judy Kaye, I was familiar with David through my own audio book listening, and I very much enjoyed his style of reading.
I remember that Laura Godwin, the co-author of the Doll People books, and I were instantly charmed when we heard (the late) actress Lynn Redgrave reading the first book in the series. Her lovely British accent was especially fitting since the main character, Annabelle, was supposed to have been created by a doll maker in London. Ms. Redgrave made the narrative voice ring true for Annabelle (and all the other characters), and we were very happy when she agreed to continue with the series and read The Meanest Doll in the World and The Runaway Dolls.
Several of the books in the Main Street series are also available in audio book format, and actress Ariadne Meyers was asked to read them. (I remember Ariadne from a role she played as a teenager in the '80s television series, Kate and Allie. She was terrific!) Ariadne prepared for the reading of each novel much like a method actress prepares for a role. She was curious about the characters, what they were like, and what motivated them. For example, readers may know that one of the residents of the Row Houses, Robby Edwards, has Down syndrome. Ariadne went to a school to observe children with Down syndrome in order to get a sense of what Robby was like and what challenges he might face. Her dedication to the characters made these Main Street audio books very special.
I continue to buy hardcover and paperback books for my bookshelves—I always will—but I have a long list of audio book titles on my "to-listen to" list. Once I finish an audio book, it goes off to a good friend of mine, who then gives it to a friend of hers, who then donates it to the local library or a senior center, so each book is enjoyed by lots of listeners. If you've never listened to an audio book before, I heartily recommend it! Your local library will likely have a large selection for you to choose from. Perhaps you can do as I did and test out the different genres until you find the style you enjoy listening to the most. I can guarantee you one thing—you will never mind long car rides again!