Stuck in traffic? Doing the dishes? Working out? Doing something else that requires your hands and eyes to be otherwise occupied? Sure, you could listen to the new Judas Priest again, but why not switch it up with some knowledge, a bit of romance, a smidgen of mystery, or terrorizing horror? Put down the book you can’t put down, and press play.
Below are some featured excerpts from titles such as Ender’s Game, The Walking Dead, and more, with descriptions from Macmillan Audio and some of the best audiobook narration I have ever heard. The publisher will be at this weekend’s Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Before you scroll down to the featured audio clips, I want to point out that Audiobooks have been around for a loooong time. They were originally intended as books for the blind, straight out of Thomas Edison’s phonograph, and there were a few recordings made in the late 1800s. However, they had to be super short, so there was little to no readership. It wasn’t until the 1930s that there was a big push (and better technology) to really start making recordings for those with sight impairments.
Audiobooks popularity rose steadily with advances in technology. When cassettes then CDs came around with their portable media players, there was a push to sell and an increasing demand to buy and listen, especially with the increasingly fast-paced world. Once they hit digital format, prices dipped (no packaging costs) and sales exploded. Audiobooks have really arrived. Publishers such as Macmillan have dedicated sections to audiobooks. There are also subscription services, such as Audible, where you can buy one book a month for a low fee. They even have their own awards — the Audies. Sometimes, celebrities are the narrators. Kate Winslet, Billy Crystal, and Johnny Depp have all lent, or rather been paid, to voice literature and novels.
And they have always been good for education. Remember those little preschool books that beep when you have to turn the page? That is another necessary use — a supplement to increase literacy. Throughout all grades, having an exemplary reader to listen to as you read along, increases comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, and a love of reading. They are also great for helping ESL students learn English.
In recent audiobook (and Kindle) news, Amazon has launched Amazon unlimited, which, for $9.99 a month, gives readers access to unlimited reading of 600,000 Kindle books and 2,000 audiobooks through Audible, with more titles forthcoming. Another relatively new twist is the straight-to-audio format, which a couple of authors have tried. Then again, before printed word lived oral tradition, so perhaps this is just going back to our roots.
“Paper elitists” may argue that audiobooks (and ebooks) are the downfall of print and it isn’t really reading in those formats. But how can helping the visually impaired, all children, non-readers, and really busy people have access to more books be a downfall when audiobooks are enhancing the love of reading? A book isn’t the paper it’s written on, but a story that wants to be told.
Now, without further ado, are 7 audiobook excerpts for your listening pleasure:
1) Cinder by Marissa Meyer – Cinder is the first installment in a fun, bestselling series called “The Lunar Chronicles” that reimagines classic fairy tales. For this first book, Cinderella is a Cyborg; the next two — Scarlet and Cress take a crack at Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, respectively. Author Marissa Meyer will be at San Diego Comic-Con, so if you’re heading there, but sure to stop by and get your audiobook signed.
2) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – This is a favorite, of course, many a sci-fi fan have delved into the world of Ender’s Game. Here’s your chance to experience the story over again in a highly enjoyable way. (Do yourself a favor and skip over the movie and go right to this audiobook)
3) Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – If you’re a fan of Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel Of Time” series, then you know that Brandon Sanderson took over writing after Jordan’s passing. For the author’s own “The Stormlight Archive” series, narrators Michael Kramer and Kate Reading, who have voiced nearly everything Sanderson has written, as well as the entire 14-book-long “Wheel of Time” series, can be found on this first book Way of Kings.
4) Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Sherrilyn Kenyon is no stranger to conventions, as her books can be seen everywhere. The bestselling author’s latest novel, Born of Fury, is filled with her usual paranormal goodness. The author, who penned the “Dark-Hunter” and “Chronicles of Nick” series, will have her own booth at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, so be sure to have a visit and let her know how you’re enjoying her works.
5) Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones – Meet Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper. Darynda Jones’s interesting “Charley Davidson Series” has six books in it so far, and the first one, First Grave on the Right, promises to convert all you readers into “grimlets.” See below for a clip from the sixth book, Sixth Grave on the Edge.
6) The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga – The Walking Dead is, hands down, one of the most popular shows on television. In Rise of the Governor, author Robert Kirkman continues his story from the TV show (which is based on his popular comic book series), and gives us a better look at the villainous Governor. Fred Berman goes full-on creepy voice to narrative this selection.
7) Landline by Rainbow Rowell – Narrator Rebecca Lowman narrates this tale of a women who uses a telephone to speak to the past version of her husband (wouldn’t we all want that?), adapted from bestselling Rainbow Rowell’s recent novel.
And be sure to stop by Booth #1220 to check out Macmillan at San Diego Comic-Con.