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The Joys of Audiobooks

Linda Stevens
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Technology has made audiobooks accessible for everyone and has helped create a more enjoyable experience for people commuting or traveling. 

Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

The first thing I remember saying out loud was “Tell me a story.” As a child, I demanded this of most adults, and learned quickly who could spin a good yarn and who needed me to bring them a book to read out loud. I still have this need to hear stories and I’m sure the people around me are grateful that, these days, audiobooks supply enough stories for any kind of mood.

Most of us in Houston spend a lot of time on the way to somewhere – in the car, on a bus or on a bike. I find that I am a much calmer person if I am listening to a story while traveling. Now that the holiday season has begun, I like to break out my traditional favorites to get me in the spirit – A Christmas Carol performed by Patrick Stewart and Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. Luckily, the library provides these (and many, many more) for free through streaming audio services – OverDrive, Hoopla and OneClickDigital.  

Technology has played a major role in making audiobooks accessible for everyone on your favorite devices. I know that some people worry that listening to an audiobook isn’t the same as reading a book. Studies have actually found that once you’ve mastered the reading basics, listening to enjoyable stories encourage students to read more. Audiobooks are used in the classroom to introduce new genres and vocabulary, to model reading aloud and to teach critical listening.

I know this may sound blasphemous coming from a librarian, but there are some books I have enjoyed even more because of the skills of a talented narrator or a well-done full-cast production. Some of these are listed below; if you’re looking for a starter audiobook, these have the librarian seal of approval.

Happy travels – may your journeys be enhanced with wonderful stories!

Great Audiobooks:

  • The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, read by LeVar Burton
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, read by Allan Corduner
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, read by the author
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, read by Jayne Entwistle
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, read by Dan O’Grady
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, read by the author
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, read by the author and assorted guest stars

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