2013 Was the Year of the Audiobook

Sometime this year, in an effort to save money, I tried really hard to cancel my Audible membership. “Libraries have audiobooks!” I reasoned. But when I went to cancel, Audible gave me $20 to spend to stay on… and well, that was saving money, right??

All in all, though, I really like the ease of Audible and the excitement of getting a new credit and their deals and I’ve so far been very pleased with my membership. Did you know that you can return audiobooks that just aren’t doing it for you? This has been my favorite feature so far, because I’ve been really disappointed with a few books I’ve started and I just sent them back.

Plus, having an audiobook always ready to go makes my commute in the morning so much better. I would say that most days I get a seat on the subway, but there is the occasional particularly crowded day when I am standing all the way to Midtown, which is about 40 minutes. It can be really difficult when the train is crowded to hold a book, especially if I’m reading  a hardcover. Audiobooks have saved me on days like that! Plus audiobooks just make the elliptical so much more appealing.

audiobooks in 2013

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton: I’m not sure I’ve talked enough about this audiobook? It was my absolute favorite so far. Will Patton’s voice is so smooth and relaxing and wonderful. When The Dream Thieves came out and I read the physical book, but I read the whole thing with Will Patton’s smooth, dreamy voice in mind. And I used one of my Audible downloads on the audiobook anyway, because I’m sure I’ll want to reread this series when the third one comes out, but also because I’d just like to listen to Will Patton talk to me some more. Also, this series is just amazing even without Will Patton’s voice. 

Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party by Max Blumenthal, read by William Hughes: This book is so far out of my comfort zone. I don’t really read about politics, but my good friend and I wanted to know more about the current political landscape and the modern Republican party and this was the book we settled on. It, honestly, wasn’t the right one, but it was an interesting read about how corruption among Evangelical Christian leaders infiltrated the party at large. It is a book with a very very narrow scope that was not quite what I was looking for. I don’t think it’s the kind of book you would want to read if you had never read a book about US politics before. Narration by William Hughes was great, but I had a hard time distinguishing between when quotations began and ended, which left me feeling very confused for much of the audiobook. I think it’s also much more obvious when authors overuse obscure words when you listen to the audio and I cringed every time he used the words cadre and scion.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, read by Mandy Williams & Justine Eyre: I loved this book as much as you promised I would, though I don’t know that audio was really the way to go. It was a lovely audio, the narrator was great, but I think it would have really helped me visualize this world to read the book. With the audio, I had a harder time understanding what was going on. I’m definitely going to be rereading this one in print, but if you have already read it and you are interested in the audio, I do recommend it. I have to say, this was the kind of book where I was finding excuses to listen.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, read by Tim Robbins: I listened to this right before the movie came out, because I had somehow never had to read it in school and then never picked it up after. I really liked it! Everyone knows the story by now, so I don’t think I really have much else to say about it. The narration by Tim Robbins was a little odd at first. I can’t remember what I didn’t like about it, but I do remember it being off-putting at the beginning. By the end, though, I couldn’t imagine it being read by anyone else. Then there were the delightful “I’m the greatest” letters from Fitzgerald at the end. Those were a lot of fun to listen to.

Shadow & Bone and Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo, read by Lauren Fortgang: This series is not perfect and I have a lot of qualms about it. Some of it is structural: the pacing is downright awful in some parts and the main characters we are supposed to be rooting for are frustrating and not in a complex character kind of way. Some of it is cultural: the location and characters are based on Russian/Eastern European/Chinese cultures and they often feel like caricatures. I would have appreciated a much more nuanced and well-researched fantasy world. I do think the magic itself is interesting and I wanted to like this series so much that I kept listening. The narrator is great and makes me care about Alina in a way that I don’t think I would have if I were reading it on my own. I don’t think I’ll be continuing this series for the third one. The more I think about it and the more I read about it, the more disappointed I get.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, read by Paul Ansdell: This was a perfect spooky read for Halloween! I listened to it during October and it really set the perfect mood for a creepy read. Plus, it is on the shorter side, so it was good for a time when I didn’t have any long car trips to get a big chunk of listening in. It was also good for dipping in and out of the story and for occasional distracted listening. There was one scene that definitely scared me when I was walking home in the dark! Paul Ansdell was a good narrator and I think what stands out to me is his way of sounding completely terrified during his narration. This is a very traditional ghost story, so don’t expect to be blown away by what happens, but it was a fun, seasonal read.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, read by Jenny Sterling: Saving the best for last! There are so many of you who have recommended Howl’s Moving Castle to me a hundred times and I just never got around to reading it. AND WHAT WAS I WAITING FOR? This was amazing, absolutely everything about it. I really loved the movie, so I didn’t even think it was possible to love the book more, but I did. A lot more. Calcifer is great, Michael has a much larger role, and Howl is just so fussy and wonderful. But best of all was Sophie. Lovely Sophie. How soon can I listen to this book again? Plus! I just had no idea about the world building. I thought it made the story so much more interesting! Jenny Sterling is a dream and completely brought Sophie to life. I love this book to pieces.

Eight audiobooks is definitely a lot for me, but I am planning on listening to a lot more in the next year. I already have The Shining by Stephen King, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan, Horns by Joe Hill, Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway, Feast of Souls by CS Friedman, and The Golem & The Jinni by Helene Wecker waiting for me.

Did you listen to audiobooks in 2013? Which one was your favorite?


18 thoughts on “2013 Was the Year of the Audiobook

  1. Did I Ever! I listened to Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races about 11 times during my final stressful weeks of session at uni, both the narrators are superb! I also recently listened to Christina Ricci’s narration of Little Women – it was delightful. I also listened to Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth, the narrator Emma Galvin was so great too, I’m sure I will listen and re-listen to that series as much as I did listen to the Scorpio Races. I also relistened to the entire Harry Potter series narrated by Stephen Fry too. Man I love audibooks, and my audible subscription.

    1. I bought the ebook of The Scorpio Races, but maybe I will have to download the audiobook. It sounds so good! I did the same thing with The Raven Boys… listened to it OVER and over again. Loved it so much and it just calmed me down whenever I felt anxious.

  2. 2013 was the year of the audiobook for me, too… I actually *cough* moved my membership up to the next level for 2014 as a Christmas gift to myself. I am really excited! I am not sure what my favourite was. I really enjoy Wil Wheaton’s narration. And the narrator for The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss was good. Jim Dale did The Night Circus and I liked him. I also really liked the narrator for Stiff by Mary Roach. I am listening to my first Martha Wells right now and then I think I am going to go with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. In 2014 I really want to get to Simon Vance, I do have something by him. He seems to be a big favourite with bloggers and I never got to him 2013.

    1. Ohh! Next level membership! I don’t think I quite finish enough audiobooks to do that quite yet, but I could see it getting to that point! I loved Jim Dale’s narration of Harry Potter AND i loved The Night Circus, so that sounds like a match made in audiobook heaven.

    1. Ahhh yes, when Michael and I are in the car together we don’t listen to a lot of audiobooks, but most of the time I am in the subway, so I don’t have to worry about bothering anyone else with my audiobook listening!

  3. I want to talk with you about some things! I started the print edition of The Raven Boys and ended up returning it to the library because I couldn’t get into it… it was too slow or something, I’m not sure. But I adored Shadow and Bone and Seige and Storm — they made my best books of the year list! So… weird?

    1. Hehe I noticed this when I was reading your year end lists! I really enjoyed listening to Shadow & Bone, but I got really frustrated by Alina in Seige and Storm! I still really loved the narrator, though. I do think the beginning of The Raven Boys is a little tough to get through and I really recommend giving it a second try! It is definitely a little slow.

  4. Oh fun! I’ll put Raven Boys on my list. 🙂 The audiobook of the sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle is lovely too (although features different main characters).

    I listen to lots of audiobooks; I just finished The Penderwicks, which was sweet and charming and wonderfully narrated (the narrator manages to make the 4 girls sound distinct but none of them have annoying voices!). My favourite audiobook ever is probably Anansi Boys, so put that on your list if you haven’t listened to it yet. 🙂

    Also, at some point this year, my library switched all its e-audiobooks to mp3s, which are apple compatible, so that was thrilling!

    1. Ooh, I did not love American Gods, but folks keep telling me to try Anansi Boys… maybe audiobook is the way to go!! The Penderwicks sounds lovely, too. Thank you for the recommendations! I hope that the sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle is the same narrator…. I absolutely adored her.

  5. I’m trying to become an audio book lover, but it’s just not working for me. I would love to listen to a book as i walk into town, but the narrators always drive me crazy. I will keep trying, but I’m not a convert yet (though I’d like to be).

    1. I’m VERY picky about my narrators and the kind of book I listen to, so I do think it takes some testing of the waters to see what you’re going to like. One nice thing is that Audible lets you test the narrator before you buy. I almost always do that before I purchase. I know another blogger who only listens to audiobooks for books she’s rereading, so maybe try that? I became an audiobook lover after listening to the Harry Potter books on audio with my family in the car.

  6. I would say 2013 was my year of the audiobook, too, mostly due to a really tough commute to work! I do utilize the library’s Overdrive app, which I LOVE. I highly recommend it, especially as I bet the NYPL has TON of digital downloads available for you. I think I must have listened to upwards of 40 audiobooks this year, so Audible just seems like it would be too expensive for me. But maybe once I get through the library’s collection, I’ll give it a whirl 🙂

    1. Ditto on the commute! Having a long commute is no fun, except for the extra time it gives you to think and listen and, if you are on a train, read. I agree that I think audible would be too expensive for that kind of volume!!

  7. Budgetary constraints sent me back to the library this year, and I discovered the wonders of audiobooks. I can read while I’m doing all kinds of other things! I also think I have read a few books I wouldn’t have otherwise because I saw them while browsing. I could never afford to pay for the volume I read; so I have cards from two different library systems and try to treat the limitations as character builders.

    The big drawback for me is that I read much faster than they narrate, so sometimes that’s frustrating.

  8. I go back and forth on whether to get an Audible account. I’m pretty happy with the library selection (and if they don’t have what I want, I just request it), but there are a few books I want that are only available on Audible, like the Claire Danes narration of A Handmaid’s Tale!

    My favorite audiobook, hands down, was Ruth Ozeki reading A Tale for the Time Being. She’s SO GOOD!

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