Now that we all have smart phones and tablets, accessing audio books no longer requires a trip to your local library and a CD player. Like everything else, they form part of our very instant world. With just a touch of a button, or two, you can be listening to an old classic like To Kill a Mocking Bird or a crime thriller which will keep you up at night hiding under the sheets. Perhaps you’re a literary scholar and the Booker Prize winner would fit the bill.
All across the world the sales and downloads of audio books is booming, with over 400,000 audiobooks available to download. Not only are there more and more wonderful new titles making their way to our ears, audiobooks are drawing out A-list narrators. That means we get to hear an old favourite, or a new trending title from a familiar voice.
Some of our favourite actors and actresses are jumping aboard the trend. Take Stephen Fry for example. What a recognisable voice he has. Fry has narrated all 11 Harry Potter books, as well as many other titles: Troy, Sherlock Holmes (all 72 hours), The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and A Bear Called Paddington to name but a few. Elisabeth Moss recently recorded The Handmaid’s Tale, between filming season three of the TV show. In case you haven’t seen the series on Netflix, she’s the star of the show.
Here are a few other celebrity narrators and titles:
- Michelle Obama – Becoming
- Meryl Street – Heartburn
- Matthew McConaughey – Greenlights
- Anne Hathaway – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- Sissy Spacek – To Kill a Mockingbird
- Kate Winslet – Matilda
- Reese Witherspoon – Go Set a Watchman
- Elijah Wood – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- Claire Danes – The Odyssey
- Michael C Hall – Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Other popular titles are sometimes narrated by their authors. For instance, Margaret Atwood narrates Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, Cat’s Eye and many more. As the boom of this industry rises, some authors are writing exclusively for audio books and not bothering to publish a single page.
Great things are arising from this new trend. Research shows people who haven’t been readers in the past are tuning in while they commute, garden, cook or exercise. In many instances this revolution is reinvigorating people’s love of books and storytelling.
Those in the know state the first audio is a critical one. They say it’s basically a make or break situation dependent on your love or disdain for the narrator. Which is probably why publishers are working hard to cast the right voice for each and every title. For first timers, classics might be a great introduction. In fact, www.bbc.co.uk have released twenty classics which you can listen to for free online [click here]. Think Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Gulliver’s Travels.
Aside from the BBC, how do you get on board and tune into the dulcet tones of a new or familiar voice? Audio books can be borrowed through many local libraries, give them a shout to see what they offer. There are also a number of websites where you can purchase audio books. Try booktopia.com.au or perhaps audible.com.au. Audible use a subscription model which allows you to pay monthly, downloading your book to your phone or tablet using their App.
Try one today and let’s hope your first is sweet, not sour!