Tag Archives: Faith

Top 10 Favorite Audiobooks

JuneHeaderIn honor of June is Audiobook Month (JIAM), I’ve decided to share a list of my favorite audiobooks. This was hard! There are a lot of good ones out there. If you haven’t tried an audiobook before, here are a few you might want to try.

1. Three Junes by Julia Glass. What I said: “The narrator, John Keating, was nearly perfect. I loved his brogue and his Fenno was wonderful.”

2. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash. What I said: “The three performers -Nick Sullivan, Lorna Raver, and Mark Bramhall – were absolutely perfect; I felt like I was listening to a script reading. The voice of Clem, in particular, was superb. This may be the best audio production I’ve ever listened to.”

3. Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout. What I said: “The performer, Bernadette Dunne, had the accents down perfectly and really imbued the voices with personality and character. She brought Strout’s words to life so convincingly that at times I felt as though the characters were in the room with me. This is one of the best audiobook narrations I’ve listened to, ever.”

4. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. What I said: “[T]he narration by Peter Altschuler is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. Great delivery and perfect accents. Mrs. Ali was the weak link, the errant thread of the Turkish rug. But the others were great.”

5. A Good American by Alex George. What I said: “The audio is terrific. Great narrator – Gibson Frazier. In fact, I think it was the audio version that kept me interested – I am not sure I would have stuck with this book if I hadn’t been listening to it.”

6. Faith by Jennifer Haigh. What I said: “The narrator, Therese Plummer, has a perfect Boston accent, and she vividly brought Faith‘s characters, male and female, to life. The audiobook forced me to ingest this novel more slowly than if I had read it, prolonging the pleasure of experiencing the book.”

7. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett: What I said: “Hope Davis is an excellent narrator. She conveys a range of voices perfectly – from Marina’s terror brought on by drug-induced nightmares to the infallible tone of Dr. Swenson.”

8. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. What I said: “I highly recommend the audio. It was narrated by Ferris, and he’s a great reader. I love listening to authors read their own works – who understands the words better than they do? Who else knows exactly where the emphasis lands in a sentence, and the tone of voice a character should take when talking to someone else?”

9. The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta. What I said: “It didn’t hurt that I listened to this book on audio narrated by the sublime Campbell Scott. I wouldn’t complain if he narrated every single audiobook in the library. His deep voice, which verges on (but never reaches) flatness, was the perfect vehicle for Perrotta’s understated sarcasm and jabs. I especially enjoyed Scott’s narration of Pastor Dennis – just perfect.”

And finally, the audiobook that got me into audiobooks…

10. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. What I said: “This book is narrated by Kristoffer Tabori, an accomplished actor, and I give him credit for embodying so many diverse voices throughout the 21 hours of Middlesex. His narration is fluid and vibrant, his voice highly capable of conveying the range from humor to desperation. To me, the weak link was his female voices, especially that of Cal’s grandmother Desdemona, who bordered on caricature. But this is a minor complaint. There were times when I was tempted to read ahead in my print copy of Middlesex, but I developed a strong appreciation for and loyalty to Tabori as I was reading, and felt that it would be betraying him NOT to experience every word through his narration.”

What are your favorite audiobooks? Please share them!

Winner of Jennifer Haigh FAITH Audiobook

Thank you to everyone who entered to win the FAITH audiobook giveaway. Random.org picked Rachel W. as the winner. Congratulations, Rachel!

Giveaway: FAITH Audiobook

I recently reviewed the audiobook for FAITH by Jennifer Haigh. I’d like to give away my audiobook version. If you’re interested in receiving the audiobook, leave me a comment below, and be sure to use your email address in the comment. I will pick a winner at random on Friday March 30.

Good luck!

FAITH by Jennifer Haigh

One of my favorite authors that I discovered since launching this blog is Jennifer Haigh. I’ve reviewed her first three novels, Mrs. Kimble, The Condition, and Baker Towers, and I loved each one. Haigh is a master storyteller – her books are perfectly paced, her characters developed with precision and consistency. I don’t think I’ve ever read a line in a Haigh novel that didn’t ring true, that didn’t seem perfectly in place with the rest of the book.

Last May, I learned that Haigh had a new novel coming out – Faith – and I angled for a review copy, which I was generously provided by HarperCollins. The subject matter – priests and child molestation and family secrets and coverups – didn’t appeal to me off the bat. I think I feared that the book would be overly religious, or just unpleasant. I read the first chapter and then I put the book down and never picked it up again. It pained me – this Jennifer Haigh novel sitting in my room that I hadn’t clicked with – how was that possible?

I finally decided to pick Faith up again about two weeks ago, and ended up listening to it mostly on audio. I’m so glad I did. Faith is a tautly written story about a Catholic family in Boston. The oldest son, Arthur, is a priest who has been accused of molesting a 7 year-old boy. His mother, Mary, is a devout Catholic who refuses to believe the accusation. His siblings, Sheila and Mike, grapple with the accusation, with Sheila (mostly) standing by her brother and Mike, the father of three young sons himself, immediately shunning his brother while finding the need to uncover the truth himself.

Sheila narrates the novel, but with her limited knowledge of what actually happened, it unfolds like a mystery as she unravels the events leading up to the accusation and relays what she learned, and when she learned it.

What I liked about Faith is that none of these characters was predictable or one-dimensional. In the end, they were each flawed in his or her own way, but Haigh’s empathy toward each one made them sympathetic and totally realistic. As a reader, I could understand their motivations; what seemed unforgivable in one chapter made perfect sense in a later chapter. The book definitely explores faith – not just the religious type, but the faith we put in our loved ones to do the right thing, and what happens when that faith is shaken to its core. How strongly can faith withstand what appears to be controversial evidence? As Sheila says halfway through the book, “It was a thing I’d always known but until recently had forgotten: that faith is a decision. In its most basic form, it is a choice.”

There is a fair amount of religion in here, but most of it is in the context of setting the scene for what Arthur’s life as a priest was like. The book has a somewhat slow start and gets a little drowned in the Catholicism at first, which, in retrospect, is what prompted me to put the book down. But that early foundation gives way to a suspenseful story that is beautifully told in Haigh’s usual style. I think that of her four novels, this is the weakest- it gets a little repetitive at times, and there is almost too much foreshadowing for my taste (I like to be surprised). But at her weakest, Haigh is still a master, and Faith was a very good read.

I highly recommend Faith. The audio version is also very good. The narrator, Therese Plummer, has a perfect Boston accent, and she vividly brought Faith‘s characters, male and female, to life.  (She lives in NY, it turns out – I wonder if she grew up in Boston?) The audiobook forced me to ingest this novel more slowly than if I had read it, prolonging the pleasure of experiencing the book. By the end, however, I had to switch to the paper version just because I wanted to finish more quickly and find out what happened. Also, while I read the hardcover, Faith is now out in paperback.

News Flashes from EDIWTB

Some quick bookish news here on EDIWTB…

First, congratulations to Tena R., who won my audiobook of I'd Know You Anywhere, by Laura Lippman. Enjoy!

Second, some exciting news from HarperCollins. Jennifer Haigh has a new book coming out in May called Faith! I have very heard good things about it, and have requested a review copy. Can't wait! I am a huge fan of Jennifer Haigh - I loved Mrs. Kimble, The Condition, and Baker Towers.

Finally, I have another reading-related post up at TLC's new Parentables blog. Today I write about why I don't read sci-fi or fantasy anymore.