Question: Are Some Books Better In Audio?

Posted July 10, 2013 by Carmel in Question / 34 Comments

Question hosted by Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks

It is true that all narrators are not created equal; a bad one can seriously turn you off from audiobooks but a good one can make you forgo reading an entire author’s series in favour of listening to it instead. Lately, I haven’t been devouring as many audiobooks as I would like; it takes me a lot longer to listen to a novel than it does to read one so I try to cherry pick my audiobooks. There are a few series that I’ve experienced exclusively in audio and I seriously doubt whether I’d have rated the books as high as I did if it hadn’t been for the narrators. Eventually, I decided to put my theory to the test so I tried reading a few installments in my favourite audio series just to see whether the voice inside my head delivered the story as good as the narrator. Well, it came as no real surprise to me when I concluded that yes, in fact, some books are just better in audio.

I consider myself to be a fairly sarcastic person but even I can’t compete with Amanda Ronconi’s snarky tone when she narrates Molly Harper’s Half Moon Hollow and Jane Jameson series’. Her voice is perfectly suited for Harper’s side-slitting humour and together they usually have me giggling uncontrollably in no time. RenΓ©e Raudman is another favourite of mine, her narration of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels books is beyond memorable. Her tone manages to portray the heroine’s kick ass-edness while still being sarcastic and entertaining at the same time. After listening to all five audiobooks back-to-back, it just felt wrong reading Gunmetal Magic. Also, being French Canadian, my inner voice’s Southern twang is severely lacking so I didn’t even try to compete with Lauren Fortgang’s narration. It was love at first listen when I started Spider’s Bite and I haven’t been able to read one of Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin novels since.

Are Some Books Better In Audio?

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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34 responses to “Question: Are Some Books Better In Audio?

  1. I absolutely agree that some books are better in audio. An amazing narrator + an amazing story = the best kind of magic. I prefer audio above any other format and I think that just as a great narrator can make a good series seem incredible, an inferior narrator can make an amazing series seem ridiculous. I definitely agree that Ronconi’s narration of the Jane Jameson series gave it that little something extra that pushed it from a great series to a fanfreakingtastic series. I remember I used to think that listening to audio is for people that are too lazy to read, I was SO wrong. It’s an entirely different and sometimes even more rewarding experience, in my opinion.

    My favorite narrations have been Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman reading The Graveyard Book and Ocean at the End of the Lane; Tavia Gilbert w/ the Night Huntress series, and most recently, Simon Vance who has narrated hundreds of books.

  2. Amy

    I totally agree. I’m a hit or miss audio listener, but when I find one I like I try to continue it that way. But with the Morganville Vampires series, the narration has taken something away from what people love about the series.

    Can’t wait to checkout the ones you mentioned.

      • Charlie

        Interesting. Cynthia Holloway is one of my favorite narrators. She reads the first 11 of the Morganville series. Curious how i will handle the transition to the new narrator beginning with Black Dawn.
        Ms. Holloway also reads the first 5 of Chicagoland Vampires. Sophie Eastlake has done a good job with the most recent installments.

  3. Some other great suggestions

    Lorelei King for the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones. Pulls of the snark perfectly. (This narrator also does the Mercy Thompson series, though I think she is better for this one. More snark and funny with Charley versus Mercy.).

    Bahni Turpin for the Downside Ghosts series by Stacia Kane. Her voice is different and I wasn’t sure I liked it at first, but it grew on me very quickly. She also does a great job with the Downside slang and voices for the secondary characters.

    Allison McLemore for the White Trash Zombie series by Diana Rowland. There is a log of the “hick” southern accents, but also does really well with the characters that don’t have an accent.

  4. Is it bad that I just haven’t gotten that into audio books? I usually have music going on in the background when I drive, at work, or cleaning. And that’s just it…it’s in the background, if I had an audio book I would give it my sole attention and then nothing would get done (and the cars around me wouldn’t be happy either). If I am at home and just relaxing then my husband is usually there with the TV going. Maybe I should try listening to one on my iPod while he’s watching and see how that goes πŸ˜€

    • It took me a couple of audiobooks before I was able to get the swing of doing something while listening but now that that’s no longer a problem they make chores and Sunday football so much more enjoyable! Oh, and exercise too.

  5. Felicia Smith

    Yes, some books are much better in audio! I tend to re-purchase books I love in audio format if I want to re-read them. The majority of my audio library is made up of books I’ve already read and really loved. Then there are the books that I just take a chance on the author because I loved the way the narrator’s voice sounds. I have a lot of those. The top series I love on audio is Kresley Cole’s IAD. Robert Petkoff’s voice is awesome! Also it took awhile to get use to, but I love Joe Frangione’s voice for BDB series. I have ALL of those books in audio. And even though I still purchase the ebook/HB/Paperback of BDB, I still end up listening to them. I am currently on my 5th re-listen of the series. πŸ™‚

    But what really annoys me though is when my favorite book and the narrator for the audiobook does not match up. I have HUGE sads when that happens. Currently Shelly Laurenston/G.A. Aiken books are on audio. I LURVE her books. But I heard a sample of the audio for one of the Dragon books, and I wanted to weep. Same goes for Lauren Dane’s Brown Siblings. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE that series. I was totally heartbroken that the narrator kinda…sucked.

    • Audibooks are a great way for re-reads because you get to experience a beloved story from a different perspective. I’ve listened to 2 BDB books now and I’m not a fan of Frangione. I have heard that he does grow on you but haven’t experienced it myself yet.

      • Felicia Smith

        It did take a while before I got use to his voice. It more of me loving the books SO much, that I was willing to really focus on the words instead of his voice. And after a while (long while lol) it did grow on me. Now I can’t imagine anyone else narrating them. I’m more happy now that a male’s voice was chosen to read them than a woman’s. The tone of the books demands a male voice. At least to me they do. That’s why I don’t quite understand why a lot of women narrate the romances. Don’t get me wrong, more power to the women who narrate. But when I curl up to listen to a hot and sexy book, I want a sexy man’s voice coming out of my speakers/headphones during the smexy parts. Maybe that’s just me. lol

  6. Completely agree with pretty much all of this. My newest discovery was Kelly Lintz narrating DARKNESS FALLS by Cate Tiernan. So, so good. Also discovered Bernadette Dunne via CLEANING NABAKOV’S HOUSE in the last year and adored her performance.

    My family often gives me the “stink eye” when I listen, because I hate being interrupted and unlike music, can’t just listen to them and the audiobook – LOL! So I tend to listen while doing dishes (which I loathe) and mowing the lawn. Great distractions. Works well for exercising too!

    • I wish I could listen to audiobooks while mowing the lawn, mine’s so loud that I have to crank my iPhone and then I end up deaf. I’ve been thinking about buying some of those noise cancelling ones but they are so expensive and I’m not even sure they’d work. Urgh! Such a waste of 3 hours. πŸ™

  7. Absolutely! Luke Daniels narrates the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. I can’t even imagine reading them on the page. If the book and audiobook aren’t released on the same day, I will actually wait for the audiobook instead of buying the book. It’s torture, but worth it.

    I feel that way about anything Wil Wheaton narrates too.

  8. I completely agree. Amanda Ronconi is my favorite narrator – I checked out the Jane Jameson series because she was the narrator, I didn’t even know the author at the time. Thanks for the mentions of other good narrators, I’m getting ready to start Kate Daniels, maybe it’ll be my next audio series.

  9. Gah! I hate when I type a comment, fail to copy it, and it gets lost with “navigation canceled!”

    Shorter this time… I used to listen to audiobooks all the time until Jim Dale ruined me for all other narrators with the Harry Potter series. I would like to try some others again, though, so I’ll check out the ones you guys have recommended!

  10. Wow it seems like everyone’s had audiobook experience. I still haven’t gotten into it. I looked into it a few weeks ago because I think it’s be perfect for driving and such, but I really can’t do two things at once. I think it’ll just turn out to be background noise and that I’ll miss most of what’s said when I listen to audiobooks while doing other things. But if I ever try them out, I’ll definitely keep your lists and everyone’s suggestions in mind!

    Great post!

  11. I have another narrator that I forgot about. Phil Gigante does the Highlander series for Karen Marie Moning. I normally like women narrators better, but he does a wonderful job. I like his narration better than the stories. Who doesn’t love an old highland brogue?

  12. I love audiobooks. It’s the only way to get even more reading done.
    I decided a couple years back to strictly listen to JD Robb’s In Death series on audio. I love Susan Ericksen’s narrations. I find myself noticing narrators on audiobooks now. So if I see that Ericksen narrated a book, I’m more likely to give it a chance. On another note, I’m now listening to Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong. (It’s a re-read for me) I agree with the above commenter that audiobooks are great for re-reads as it does give a different perspective. I equate it to listening to a tv show or movie instead of listening to a book.