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Audio narration brings another dimension to a story, and can enhance enjoyment and understanding of the work. But sometimes an audio production doesn’t only enhance what’s on the page, it also offers something to listeners that print readers miss out on altogether. Each of these audiobooks includes exclusive listener content.
Dominicana. By Angie Cruz. Read by Coral Peña. 2019. 10.5hr. Macmillan, CD, $44.99 (9781250242563).
“The invisibility of the women, in particular of my community, fueled this desire to write the Dominican experience,” reveals Cruz in an interview accessible only if you choose audio. The author and narrator, both Dominican American women, conclude the production in conversation, sharing beyond-the-page personal stories.
A Dream About Lightning Bugs: A Life of Music and Cheap Lessons. By Ben Folds. Read by the author. 2019. 8.5hr. Books on Tape, DD, $76 (9780593148402).
The musician, in his soft North Carolina drawl, examines his life, music, and the creative process. He punctuates his engaging storytelling with music, singing, and sound effects, giving the performance a completeness only the audio format can offer.
Find Me. By André Aciman. Read by Michael Stuhlbarg. 2019. 8hr. Macmillan, CD, $29.99 (9781250263407).
Shuhlbarg, who played Elio’s father, Sami, in the 2017 film version of Call Me by Your Name, here narrates the novel’s sequel, which focuses on Sami in part one, and then shifts to continue Elio’s story in part two. A conversation between Aciman and Stuhlbarg caps a delightful listening experience.
The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. By Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. Read by the authors. 2018. 7hr. Books on Tape, CD, $35 (9780525641919).
For this book, the married comedic actors recorded themselves in conversation, then set their conversations on the page, then re-recorded them for this audio version. Audiobook listeners alone are privy to a delightful chapter of “Likes and Dislikes” that is not included in the print version.
Hey, Kiddo. By Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Read by a full cast. 2019. 3hr. Scholastic, DD, $54.99 (9781987162127). Gr. 8–12.
Yes, graphic novels can work on audio, and perhaps none is more affecting than Krosoczka’s coming-of-age memoir infused with complications of family, the pain of addiction, and the salvation of art. Sound effects, music, and additional text brilliantly fill in for the images, and the family and friends often play themselves. Listen for the emotional reunion of father and son as Krosoczka’s estranged father reads the letters he sent young Jarrett.
The Stonewall Reader. Ed. by the New York Public Library. Read by a full cast. 2019. 11hr. Books on Tape, DD, $85.50 (9781984846341).
The New York Public Library has compiled an extraordinary collection of poetry, prose, memoir, and interviews. It is one thing to read these heart-rending chronicles and another to hear them spoken aloud, especially when listeners are privy to archival interviews, including with drag queens, among those treated most vilely by the so-called justice system.
Stuff You Should Know: An Incomplete Compendium of Mostly Interesting Things. By Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant. Read by the authors. 2020. 9hr. Macmillan, DD, $26.99 (9781250771490).
The popular podcasters narrate their book, alternating chapter by chapter. After sharing a bunch of their “mostly interesting things,” the duo has a conversation—more reminiscent of their usual podcast style—that you’ll only hear here!
The Thanksgiving Play. By Larissa Fasthorse. Performed by a full cast. 2021. 2hr. L.A. Theatre Works, CD, $29.95 (9781682661390).
An audio play is the next best thing to a live performance, and in this one, listeners hear the slight sound effects, audience reactions, truly troubling Thanksgiving pageant songs, and perhaps best of all, an insightful concluding conversation with the playwright that helps place the work in its contemporary cultural context.
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