After This Great Audiobook, What Next?

Elizabeth Bluemle - October 24, 2017

I love listening to a well-told tale, and have racked up a surprising number of books heard over a lifetime. Often, if I love a book on audio, I’ll end up reading it, and sometimes will also listen to a book I’ve already read. It’s surprising how much story packs into a 15-minute driving commute, and how nicely a chunk of novel or nonfiction can bookend a day.
When The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage was released, I was in the middle of reading two other books that I wanted to finish, but I couldn’t wait to get back into Philip Pullman’s world, so I went the audio route. When I saw that Philip Pullman himself wasn’t reading it, I was disappointed; he had been mesmerizing as the narrator of the full-cast His Dark Materials trilogy. I should have known that author and publisher would not allow this new production to fall short. Happily, sonorous British narrator Michael Sheen is well up to the task. This isn’t a full-cast effort, but you don’t even notice that because he is so compelling, the kind of storyteller you’d sit around a fire listening to hours after meaning to head up to bed.
The story itself fits right into the trilogy canon; no worries about a loss of vision, narrative charm, suspense, character — it’s all there. You fall in love with the earnest young main character, Malcolm. And you encounter baby Lyra and little Pantelaimon! Irresistible. I’m not sure how Philip Pullman does it, but he is a brilliant storyteller, time and time again. He is ideologically unafraid, and this book invites as much discussion as The Amber Spyglass while having the narrative pull of The Golden Compass.
I am LOVING this book and this audiobook (I’m about halfway through already) — and it’s making me pre-grieve being finished with it. That’s where you come in. ShelfTalker readers, what are you listening to and loving? What can you recommend for us all next? I’m especially interested in 2017 releases, but am always happy to hear about older favorites.
Side note: for readers who would like to support indie bookstores, you can get audiobooks from them via If your local independent bookstore participates, look on their website for a link to Libro, and they will receive a small percentage of those sales. It’s a nice alternative to Audible, if you’re looking for one.
P.S. If you haven’t read Kenny’s recent post, A Surprising Suitor for Amazon Headquarters II, it’s hilarious — well worth a procrastination moment.

11 thoughts on “After This Great Audiobook, What Next?

  1. Brianna Robinson

    I’m listening to Deborah Harkness’ series on CD and it’s wonderful.
    I’ve also listened to A Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, which was delightful and The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz and Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. All were really well narrated and engrossing.

  2. Linda Epstein

    I have to read so much for work but I try to keep up on reading more current releases via audio book. When they are good they are GOOD. I recently listened to Ibi Zoboi’s AMERICAN STREET on audio. It was amazing. Also, Bahni Turpin did a phenomenal job narrating Angie Thomas’s THE HATE YOU GIVE.

  3. Josh Funk

    Anything read by Kathleen McInerney. We started with Wendy Mass’s 11 Birthdays and have recently taken audiobooks out of the library based on her narration, regardless of what the book was.

  4. Erika

    The best audiobook in my experience is My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand and 2 other authors. The voice actress is incredible and hilarious!

  5. Riley J.

    As always, John Green’s new novel “Turtles All the Way Down” is a cut above the rest, and the audiobook is equally outstanding. Anything written (and especially narrated) by Neil Gaiman should be listened to without hesitation. His short stories are all great, especially for those new to his writing, and I can’t stop raving about “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” (either as a standalone audiobook, or as an entry in his “Trigger Warning” collection). The combination of the story itself and his sonorous narration and the original music by FourPlay String Quartet… amazing!

  6. edulemba

    I would listen to Stephen Briggs read the phone book. It’s not new, but his readings of THE WEE FREE MEN and the entire Tiphany Aching series remains my all-time fave. 🙂 e

  7. Lois McAuliffe

    I love the audio books of the Lockwood & Co. series, by Jonathan Stroud, read by Miranda Raison. (Book I is The Screaming Staircase) Book 5, The Empty Grave, the finale of the series, was just published in September. It’s fabulous.

  8. Connie Rockman

    If you have never read any of J.K. Rowling’s adult mysteries (under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith), they are all amazing on audio. Robert Glenister brings those characters and gruesome plots to life in a riveting reading each time. The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck is an absolutely compelling read, and the audio edition, narrated by Cassandra Clare, is beautifully rendered. Don’t miss it.

  9. Elizabeth Bluemle Post author

    Thanks so much for the recommendations! Most of these I haven’t listened to yet, but I can enthusiastically second THE HATE U GIVE, THE WEE FREE MEN, and Neil Gaiman’s ANANSI BOYS (narrated by Lenny Henry). Looking forward to the ones you’ve all mentioned! Thanks again.

  10. Melissa

    We started listening to the “How to Train Your Dragon” series because it was read by David Tennant (our favorite Doctor) and were quickly sucked into the story. David does such an amazing job with the voices that sometimes you forget it is just one person. The stories are very entertaining and great for listening with the whole family.


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