NYT’s Sunday Book Review Discovers Audio

In an audiobook focused 5-page section, the upcoming NYT‘s Sunday Book Review offers a host of reviews for listeners of all interests and ages.

61biobF7paL._SL300_The highlight is Gillian Flynn’s take on The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, read by Emma Thompson (Audible Studios, Mar. 2016). Unfortunately, as an Audible title, it is not available for library purchase. Like many other Audible titles, though, it may be available later from sister Amazon company Brilliance.

The review is a rave. Flynn writes that Thompson “pairs perfectly” with the story’s “queasy terror built on unsettling pieces of information; curious reactions; small, pointed lies.”  She goes on to say that every character Thompson takes on is “beautifully” and “quite stunningly” voiced.

Flynn calls James’s classic “one of the most chilling ghost stories ever, largely because it is so deliciously elusive …something nasty is afoot … and the discomfort is doled out precisely and relentlessly.”

9780147526366_91765In contrast, Laura Miller, who often writes on audio as one of the books columnist for Slate has a dim view of Scarlett Johansson’s reading of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (Brilliance/Audible Studios, June 2016). She also offers mixed praise for Grimm’s Fairy Tales read by superstar narrator Jim Dale, along with actor Alfred Molina and others (Listening Library, May 2016; OverDrive Audio Sample).

In a roundup review of several young readers’ versions of adult titles, including Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers Edition, read by Macleod Andrews (Listening Library, Aug. 2015; OverDrive Audio Sample), reviewer Nina Burleigh writes about listening to them while driving with her 13-year-old son. to “test their YA appeal.”  She warns that listening to Pollan’s 7-hr audiobook in the car has an unexpected consequence; you won’t want to stop for a snack at a fast-food outlet. She advises packing a picnic.

NYT business reporter David Segal is no fan of the titles in the category he reviews, noting that “the veneer of self-congratulation … wafts from nearly every book in the How to Succeed category … somehow easier to see through in audiobook form.”

It is rare for the NYT‘s to devote this much attention to audiobooks. As MarketWatch noted recently, the format is the “fastest-growing segment of the book publishing industry … popular enough to outsell some traditional books … sometimes four times as well,” so perhaps we will see more coverage in upcoming issues.

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