By Karna Small Bodman
One of my Rogue colleagues wrote a great blog about audio books the other day and it reminded me of the time I first learned about them. It was back in the early 90’s when I began serving some 11 years on the Board of Directors of a wonderful organization first named RECORDING FOR THE BLIND. Later we expanded it to Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic and recently, the name was shortened to Learning Ally. This terrific enterprise was begun in 1948 by founder Anne T. MacDonald who wanted to help our servicemen who had been blinded in WWII so they could take advantage of the GI Bill. She encouraged members of the New York Library Women’s Auxiliary to begin reading textbooks — recording them on vinyl phonograph discs, (then books were available on tapes, CD’s and now Mobile Apps). She also recruited professionals to do the recordings, including Walter Cronkite.
Years later, I was asked to record chapters of my first thrillers in their Washington, DC studio when they expanded their offerings to include fiction. Today all kinds of books are being recorded in studios across the country for students of all ages. In fact, if you would like to volunteer to read for their clientele, please check out the opportunities here
Over the years audio books have become so popular that their sales have doubled in the last five years, while print and e-book sales are flat. Those statistics appeared in an article in Sunday’s New York Times titled “Listening to a Book vs. Reading it.” Their Book Review section along with several other publications recently have suggested a ton of audio titles as Christmas gifts. So I’d like to add a few of my own….as well as highlight my favorite narrators for your consideration.
First on my list is the multi-talented Scott Brick — actor, screenwriter and narrator of over 600 titles!
This man has “voiced” books by authors we thriller writers and readers always appreciate including Lee Child, Michael Crichton, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Nelson DeMille, Tom Clancy, as well as Any Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Ron Chernov’s Hamilton.
In fact, he also is the narrator of the CD version of Grey Ghost by our own Rogue, Robin Burcell and Clive Cussler.
Another narrator I have enjoyed listening to is Tony Roberts who has been an actor in film, on Broadway and was twice a Tony Award nominee. He stared in several shows including Barefoot in the Park, Xanadu, and Victoria, Victoria.
Now he is the narrator of most all of NYT Bestselling author Stuart Woods’ clever novels, the most recent is Desperate Measures — featuring continuing hero, Stone Barrington — former detective turned New York attorney who endeavors to protect a young attractive woman from the worst kinds of characters.
The book I am listening to right now and highly recommend is the new thriller by British author, Jeffrey Archer, Heads you Win. This extremely well-written novel is about Russians who escape Soviet domination and go on to become involved in an extraordinary double-twist. And…this is a book with an astonishing ending.
In this case, the narrator is another Brit — Richard Armitage who is well known as an English TV and theater actor.
Not to be outdone by gentlemen in the business, there are many wonderful women narrators as well, of course. In fact one who truly stands out is Tavia Gilbert. She is the 2018 Booklist “Voice of Choice” and won the 2017 Audio Award as Best Female Narrator. Talk about talent — this woman has voiced everything from Eleanor Roosevelt’s autobiography to children’s books such as Gingerbread Man & Other First Tales to The Wizard of Oz.
So as we look ahead to selecting gifts for friends and family who enjoy books, you just might want to check out some audio books. And if you already have some favorites you would like to recommend, please leave a comment below and also on our Facebook page at the icon top left. I’m sure all of us Rogues along with our visitors would enjoy your suggestions! Now thanks for checking us out here on Rogue Women Writers — and a very MERRY CHRISTMAS to all!
. . . Submitted by Karna Small Bodman
What a fabulous organization! I had never heard of it.
Almost all of my books are available as audiobooks. My sister-in-law's favorite narrator is Kirstin Potter with Dreamscape.
Audiobook narrators can be amazing. I listened to one book by a mega famous author–who shall remain nameless because I didn't think much of the book–but the plot had three different men with Scottish accents. This female narrator not only made them Scottish but made them easily distinguishable from each other, a talent which amazed me.
Audio books are wonderful things. Thanks for this great primer on some of the narrators!