Narrator Spotlight: Read by the Author

by Marina

Combating the Commute

I have a bit of a commute. Not a long one. But twenty-five minutes, give or take, each way. You know, depending on traffic. Or the weather. (Can’t call myself a Washingtonian without adding those conditions. You know how it is.) So, rather than besiege myself with the repetitive nature of public radio I turn to audiobooks. Mostly downloadable audiobooks from OverDrive these days but I’ve been known to check out a book on CD now and again.

I’m quite eclectic in my audiobook subjects, even though I stick mainly with nonfiction titles. So, if I had to pick a favorite narrator in that genre it would be those read by the author. I know. That’s probably a cheater answer. But I’ll own it. And stick with that answer. For these reasons: They’ve got the inside scoop on the inflection and passion they intended. They have the right pronunciations. And sometimes they’ll even crack up in their narration.

So, here are my top three. No, four. Well, how about my top five titles that are read by the author. It’s hard to stop there but I’ll force myself. And you can discover some more on your own!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver is one of the first audiobooks I remember listening to that the author read. Her daughter and husband were even part of the narration. Their passionate narration of the year they spent living on locally grown food really inspired me to try some of the things they did. Not grinding my own flour but I did get chickens. And really committed to my garden.

A favorite movie of mine–and probably yours–is The Princess Bride. When I first heard Cary Elwes was writing a book on the making of the movie I knew I’d go the audiobook route. And when I learned that he was including discussion from the rest of the cast I was even more excited. And when I found that the majority of them would be narrating their content? I was over the moon! Audio Billy Crystal is just as good as movie Billy Crystal. (You can get the best of both worlds with Monsters, Inc and Howl’s Moving Castle.)

Jenny Lawson’s blog is so funny. Her books are just as funny. And when she narrates her books it’s the perfect trifecta of humor, inspiration, and storytelling. Even when she’s talking about mental health.

A.J. Jacobs has written several books about immersing himself in one thing for a year–the bible, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and health fads–but this one is a collection of similar experiments taking place over a shorter period of time.

So, my fifth entry is a fiction title. I don’t think as many authors of fiction read their own works as compared to nonfiction authors. (I could be wrong–I tend to stick with reading fiction so I don’t miss out on an important plot point if I have to concentrate on my driving.) But this author, Lance Rubin, started out as an actor. His theatrical training really comes to light in his debut novel, Denton Little’s Deathdate. And the follow up, Denton Little’s Still Not Dead (which I just finished listening to).

So, do you have a favorite audiobook read by the author? Share your suggestions in the comments.

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11 responses to “Narrator Spotlight: Read by the Author”

  1. I recently listened to Shades of Milk and Honey read by the author, Mary Robinette Kowal. Very Jane Austen with magic (hello!). I really liked it. The author did a great job narrating.

  2. Janet says:

    Joshilyn Jackson, for sure! She’s an actress, too, and I love her books.

  3. Mindy says:

    The Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westefeld audiobooks are narrarated by the actor Alan Cumming.

    • Marina says:

      Thanks for sharing, Mindy. And, while not read by the author, books read by actors are usually very entertaining. Alan Cumming has written a couple of memoirs and a novel that he narrates, though.

  4. Liz says:

    I just listened to Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. Highly recommend!

  5. Erin says:

    Angela’s Ashes read by Frank McCourt. I would have been a sobbing mess if I had read it on my own with my own dramatic inflections in my head. Something about having his matter of fact narration with the lilting Irish accent made the tragedy bearable and the comic bits that much funnier. Plus he survived it all to tell the story.

  6. […] few weeks ago, Marina shared audiobooks that eased her commute. Like Marina, I rely on audiobooks for company while on the road. Whereas […]

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