Friday, May 15, 2015

Books Worth Listening To

Hello, everyone! As you might've noticed (and are possibly counting down to), summer- vacation season- is getting steadily closer. One might say it's started early for me, since I've spent a large portion of this week in
the van, going places. Bookwise, car trips usually mean two main things: trying to fit as many books as I can in my back pack (and hoping I've guessed accurately what I'll want to read while I'm away) and looking for a good audiobook to listen to while we're on the road. Audiobooks have always been my family's favorite way of in-car entertainment; they make the time go much faster, and have the added benefit of not making anyone carsick. Sadly, our most recent trips haven't involved much in the way of audiobooks for two main reasons: (A) we forgot to look for any audiobooks at the library, and (B) I'm driving and don't need to be distracted, so we didn't listen to the audiobooks we already had. Anyway, even if I'm not listening to an audiobook right now, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorites that I've listened to before.
  1. Howl's Moving Castle (as narrated by Jenny Sterlin). This, as you might've noticed, is one of my favorite books- but that doesn't automatically guarantee it a spot on my favorite audiobooks list. If I don't like the narrator's voice, even the most amazing story can be a terrible audiobook. (Case in point: The Lord of the Rings. I love the books, but I can't find a good audiobook version.) However, the narrator of Howl's Moving Castle? Absolutely perfect. Almost all the character voices sound just like I imagined them or better- especially Howl, who has a simply amazing accent. The only real exception is young Sophie, but as that's not a voice I hear for most of the book, it's only a small flaw. And the narrator's normal voice is just right for the almost-fairytale feel of the book.
  2. House of Many Ways (as narrated by Jenny Sterlin). Since this is the third Howl book, and it's narrated by the same person as the first, its awesomeness is hardly surprising. All the things I love about Howl's Moving Castle are true of House of Many Ways as well- with the one exception that I never get to hear Howl's accent. Admittedly, he's in disguise for most of the book, but it's still rather disappointing.
  3. The Chronicles of Narnia Radio Dramas (Focus on the Family). Ok, these are audio dramas rather than actual audiobooks, but they still count. Anyway, before I discovered Howl, these were my favorite audiobooks. The voice actors, the sound effects, the production in general- it's all very, very well done. They are adapted/abridged slightly from the original books, but that's always well done also. One other little thing I love about them: it's kind of random, but the melody they play at the start of each audiobook is lovely. It makes this picture in my head of literally being drawn through a portal into a book and really sets the mood for my enjoyment of the story itself.
  4. Ben Hur (Focus on the Family). This is one of the few audiobooks I actually like better than the original. The Focus on the Family version of Ben-Hur cuts the classic down to a more easily enjoyable length, while still preserving the theme and message that make the book great. Unfortunately, my sister doesn't enjoy it quite as much as I do, so no matter how much I push to listen to it on car trips, we usually don't.
  5. The Books of Bayern (as narrated by Cynthia Smith). These are the only audiobooks other than Ben Hur that I like better than the original. This is because I tend to read fast- and while that's usually not a bad thing, it does mean that I didn't appreciate the Books of Bayern, especially The Goose Girl, as much as I might otherwise have. Listening to the audiobooks forces me to take them more slowly, which means I pay more attention to what I missed originally.
  6. By Darkness Hid and By Darkness Won, read and written by Jill Williamson. These aren't the best audiobooks I've ever listened to, but they're narrated by the author, which is really cool. I feel like I get a better idea of what the voices are supposed to sound like. They're also free on her site, so I definitely recommend checking them out there!
  7. Jim Weiss CDs. Ok, they're not exactly audiobooks; usually they're more along the lines of short story collections. However, these were some of my favorites when I was younger; Jim Weiss is a phenomenal storyteller. I still have a lot of his CDs, and I kind of feel like I should listen to them again sometime, maybe while I'm knitting. 
 Do you like listening to audiobooks? If so, what are some of your favorites? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade) 


  1. I admit, I'm not really an audio girl. I can't sit still long enough to get into them! I NEED to be doing something, like practicing ballet or cleaning, while I listen... and then those books are forever colored by the experience of cleaning. Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, for example, will always remind me of the top shelf of my closet.

    I'm trying to convert, though! These all sound amazing, especially Howl's Moving Castle and By Darkness Hid. The first is a favorite, and I love accents; the second I've had as an ebook for a while, but I'm having a hard time getting into it, so an audio book might be perfect. Love this post!

    1. I definitely understand about not being able to sit still for audiobooks. I CAN sit still, but my hands have to be doing something- thus why I usually listen to them while I knit, or else be in a situation where I already have to sit still.

      You definitely should try them both! Glad you enjoyed my post!

  2. Ooh, lots of audiobooks.
    I'll definitely have to look into them. ^.^
    (The only one on your list that I've listened to is The Chronicles of Narnia.)

    Usually, I'm doing something crafty while I listen to them; color, (try to) draw, canvas stitching, or engraving arts.

    I have a good LOTR dramatized audio; it's from Highbridge. You can hear a sample on their site.

    1. You definitely should! :D And if you like the Focus on the Family Narnia audio dramas, most of the other dramas by them that I've listened to are just as good- it's just that the Narnia and Ben Hur ones are my favorite stories.

      Engraving arts? Might I ask what those are?

      Ooh, cool! I'll have to check that out; thanks!

  3. I loved this post and how I can relate! Since I listen to many, many books, I am very picky about narrators. That's not always practical, as I sometimes have to take what I can get, but you're right about the Focus on the Family Radio Theater series. Loved their renditions of the Narnia books, especially The Horse and His Boy and The Silver Chair. I also love their Father Gilbert Mysteries series, as well as their adaptations of Silas Marner and The Secret Garden. Jenny Sterling is a superb narrator, too. She has a very distinct voice and terrific inflection. Another narrator I really enjoy is Jenna Lamia. My favorite books she narrates are Icefall, by Matthew Kirby, and The Thirteenth Princess, by Diane Zahler. I'll have to check out Jim Weiss, whom I've never heard of. Thank you for the recommendations.

    1. I think we may have the Focus on the Family Secret Garden adaptation. I've never listened to it, though- I actually haven't read that book in ages, let alone listened to it.

      I'll have to look into those audiobooks; they should cool.

      You've never heard of Jim Weiss? O_o He's really good, though his audiobooks tend to be geared towards younger listeners, I think.


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