I admit it; I’ve never been a fan of audiobooks. I think it all started about fifteen years ago when I listened to my first audiobook for teens. It was awful. As a newish librarian, I wanted to refresh my memory on a teen book that I had read a few years earlier so I thought I would try listening to the story rather than reading it. What a mistake. The reader was practically emotionless making what had previously been an edge of your seat kind of story, pretty boring. I ended up giving up on the audio and instead rereading the book. Over the years co-workers also told me how fantastic audiobooks were during their commutes to work and occasionally I would try one, but more often than not, the experience just wasn’t that great, I would find my mind wandering and soon the story had moved on without me.
Then, last August, with a short solo road trip looming on the horizon, it was recommended to me that I take The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie along for the ride. From the very beginning, Alexie enthralled me with his tale of a boy living on the Res while trying to experience life at a white man’s school. By employing his pacing and cadence as a Native American speaker Alexie enthralled me. I listened to the story every moment I was on the road and even sat in my garage to finish listening to it when I returned home.
Encouraged by this experience, I decided to give teen audiobooks another chance. Next up was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. While I didn’t really like the story (gasp!), the performance by Kate Rudd was amazing. Through her reading, you could practically feel the strength it takes the main character to draw each breath. In fact, Rudd gives all of the characters life and personality making this production definitely worthy of ALA’s Odyssey Award for audiobooks.
My most recent encounter with teen audiobooks was unique from the past two. It was The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. This time, the story was read by two actors, a man and a woman, to reflect the alternating storytelling of the brother and sister in the book. While each reader was very skilled and enjoyable to listen to, it was a little weird sometimes because both of them would voice some of the same characters due to the alternating point of view. The other thing that I encountered while listening to this book could have happened with any book. After listening to the story for over 14 hours, I popped the twelfth CD in only to have the story fade in and out and at times completely disappear. I actually wasn’t able to finish listening to the story and had to read the last ten pages of the book instead.
Now, after having these positive teen audiobook experiences, I have another admission. I’m a cautious audiobook convert. While I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those people that always has an audiobook in the car, I will definitely be open to recommendations.