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Women hear voices every day. Usually they come in the form of harried family members, demanding coworkers, or chatty friends. But these loudspeakers are competing with the internal voices that sound like our own: the one that second-guesses all decisions, questions our fashion sense, and sounds like mom and her unsolicited (but probably accurate) advice.
When it’s time to make the lambs stop nagging, put these narrators in your ear. They’ll whine, inspire, comfort, and advise, just like all the real voices. But unlike real life, these voices come with an off button to make them shut up.
Sometimes you need a little sophistication and élan with just a touch of badassery. That’s the time to slide a Phryne Fisher CD into the changer on the way to work. Stephanie Daniel voices Kerry Greenwood’s Jazz Age Australian flapper turned investigator with tones dripping with wit, style, and rye cocktails. Phryne is your ultra-urbane friend whose cultured tones should be pulsing in your ears as you stride confidently into the Monday-morning staff meeting ready to slice and dice with aplomb.
Everyone has a friend or sibling who is a train wreck of unreality. If you’re listening to Emily Durante reading Sara Levine’s Treasure Island!!!, you get it. Our nameless heroine is your annoying little sister who keeps screwing up her life and smelling like a rose. She’s whiny and self-centered and so damn amusing in her delusions you can’t help but love her. She’s the complete opposite of empowering, evoking feelings of schadenfreude instead. You’ll feel lucky your life isn’t like hers, but you’ll wonder how she keeps managing to win friends and not alienate people.
For empowerment, you need your older sister, Condoleezza Rice, the matter-of-fact overachiever who inspires you to get off your butt and do something without coming right out and saying so. Condie will never coddle you. In her memoir Extraordinary, Ordinary People, she calmly points out the everyday remarkable characteristics in the people who surround you, including yourself. She doesn’t cheerlead you into accomplishment; she expects it.
As you listen to Tina Fey narrate her own memoir, Bossypants, you will immediately be reminded of a Friday-night happy hour with your BFF and a bottle of wine. She’s telling you her life story in that funny voice she has, the one that never feels insulting when she points out that your butt does not look good in those pants no matter how much you love them. It seems her family and job are so much more interesting than your own, but then she starts talking about her messy house, the lack of sleep from caring for the kid, her baby weight, and the long hours at work, and you understand that you have the same challenges in your life. Tina’s friendly voice and clever observations are comically cozy and affectionate—what your best pal should always sound like.
Some voices should stay in your head. That would be Robin Sachs, who delivers the delectably dulcet tones behind Jake in The Last Werewolf. His rendering of the sole surviving male lupine and his discovery and love of a she-wolf are intoxicating. Sachs’ voice will tickle and tease and taunt. This audio delivers the very definition of “bedroom voice,” with Sachs’ seductive eloquence murmuring passages of honeyed passion and bloody violence that make Fifty Shades pale in comparison.
Bossypants. Written and read by Tina Fey. 2011. AudioGo, $64.99 (9781609417192).
Extraordinary, Ordinary People. Written and read by Condoleezza Rice. 2010. Random, $35 (9780307750631).
Dead Man’s Chest. By Kerry Greenwood. Read by Stephanie Daniel. 2010. Bolinda, $83.95 (9781742148953).
The Last Werewolf. By Glen Duncan. Read by Robin Sachs. 2011. Random, $40 (9780307917331).
Treasure Island!!! By Sara Levine. Read by Emily Durante. 2012. Dreamscape, $59.99 (9781611205992).
Kaite Mediatore Stover is Director, Readers’ Services, Kansas City (MO) Public Library.
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