"What I realize when I’m doing an audiobook is that I actually have a much closer relationship to the text than I do when I’m reading."
November 24, 2011 4:25 AM   Subscribe

Neil Gaiman’s audiobook record label: [Salon.com] The best-selling author talks about introducing his new, hand-picked lineup [Audible.com] of favorite books to American ears. Neil Gaiman Presents is part of a larger enterprise by Audible.com, called ACX (for Audiobook Creation Exchange). It aims to bring new titles to the public by hosting a service through which authors (and other rights holders) can connect with professional narrators.
posted by Fizz (20 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not a big fan of Gaiman's own writing but that brief list is excellent.

Audible itself, sadly, is absolutely crammed full of awful books, especially when it comes to SF. Fishing out the few gems from the ocean of mediocrity takes forever. I cancelled my account because I felt so discouraged. Anything that amounts to more curation at Audible is probably a step in the right direction.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:04 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Neil Gaiman is one of those stand out guys that only puts his name on something he passionately cares for. My own experience with his books, comics, etc; he makes an effort to make sure that it pleases his fans. I'm also excited that Jonathan Carroll will be getting a larger audience.
posted by Fizz at 5:09 AM on November 24, 2011

Seconding that Jonathan Carroll and a larger audience. My first experience with Carroll was Glass Soup, which my then-fiancee (now husband) picked up at an airport expressly for the Gaiman blurb on the jacket(he was aware of my fandom). He likes Neil okay, but really dug the book. When I got around to reading it, I was floored. Why hadn't I known about this author? I've been accumulating his books ever since.

So uh, yeah, thanks, Neil, and let's have everyone read more Jonathan Carroll!!
posted by Kitteh at 5:27 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Heard about these months ago. Sadly these "labours of love" are mostly not labours read by Gaiman himself, in most cases, and are a bit pricey, in part because they have Gaiman's name associated with them. I'd rather buy a used paperback than a significantly more expensive digital file.

I actually prefer listening to Gaiman read his works than reading them myself. Great speaking voice... very deliberate... it's hard for me to read him nowadays without hearing his voice. It goes a long way to atone for the occasional weak, cliched, or trite bits.

I admit, though... Anansi Boys was really made for Lenny Henry to read, which he does quite a good job of.
posted by markkraft at 6:12 AM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's a constant surprise to me that Jonathan Carroll is so little-known. He writes these perfect, small-scale gems of stories, into which he weaves just the right amount of weirdness to leave you feeling really unsettled.

When I meet another Carroll fan by chance, there's always a sense of being in on something special and secret. Which is a shame in a way, because he deserves much greater success.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:14 AM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Jonathan Carroll! Much love. His books are sort of hit-or-miss -- the good ones are great, and the bad ones just don't hold together well -- but he deserves much more recognition. I was recommended 'Sleeping in Flame', and it's great, but 'The Land of Laughs' would be a good first choice too.

I'll have to look into these. Maybe I will finally get an Audible account, especially as I will be able to play my ipod in my car come January.
posted by jeather at 6:28 AM on November 24, 2011

These aren't any pricier because of Gaiman's curation role, markkraft - if you browse around Audible a bit you'll see that's pretty standard for their price range. And you can't really compare buying a used paperback with buying an audiobook... they are both ways of consuming the story, but I can't just go to one or the other interchangeably. Not only does it take a certain type of book to do well as an audiobook, there are also books that especially shine in the format. I spend enough time either commuting or doing detailed and fairly repetitive handwork that I really appreciate finding those gems that work as great audiobooks.

With the Gaiman recommendation plus the endorsements here, I'm grabbing the Jonathan Carroll right now, and I'll keep my eye on this list for ideas next time I'm hunting for a listen.
posted by polymath at 8:15 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

As an avid listener of audio books I feel like I live in a vacuum. Rating at Audible are pointless, everything is about 4 stars. Comments seem bi-modal. I never know what to get. Maybe this will help. Only through some unlikely happening did I ever even hear of Iain M. Banks. I came to "Game of Thrones" entirely too late.

I admit I've never heard of Gaiman or Caroll. But now I at least have some blue-approved titles to try. Thanks for this post.
posted by cccorlew at 9:49 AM on November 24, 2011

Kitteh, thanks for nothing. You got me all wound up about "Glass Soup" then I discovered there is no Audible version....
posted by cccorlew at 9:56 AM on November 24, 2011

LibriVox commercialized. Good idea. Amazon FTW (nor not).
posted by stbalbach at 10:50 AM on November 24, 2011

This sounds like a great idea! I look forward to hearing more about it.

Seriously though, anything that helps authors get their books out in another format, and gives them some control over the final product, is great. Here's hoping "Neil Gaiman Presents" becomes a big, prestigious line of audiobooks.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:58 AM on November 24, 2011

The next logical step is to have outsider investor(s) sponsor a book conversion to audio with a 4-ways split of proceeds (sponsor, author, narrator, provider). That way, the readers get decide what they want made into an audiobook. Or perhaps some mechanism for readers to donate a $1 as a form of voting towards a book made into an audiobook.
posted by stbalbach at 11:11 AM on November 24, 2011

Audible has some awesome books, but it requires picking through. I have listened to two books a month since 1999, for what it is worth, here are my SF/F favorites:

Tim Curry narrates the Abhorsen series, by Garth Nix, which are terrific dark fantasy (supposedly YA, but doesn't feel very YA)
Jon Lee narrates The Prefect, by Alastair Reynolds which is excellent hard SF (Reynold's other books are also well done on Audible)
Jon Lee also does Peter Hamilton's books, which are, I think some of the best space operas today
Peter Kenny's narration of Surface Detail, by Iain Banks, is good space opera
Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself is also really well narrated, but really grim, fantasy
Charlie Stross's books are all well-narrated
Neil Gaiman, especially The Graveyard Book (narrated by him) and Anansi Boys (by Lenny Henry) are wonderful in audio
Pirate Sun by Karl Shroeder is really well done, with a male and female narrator
All of Neal Stephenson's books are well-read
In the Garden of Iden is a great version of alternate time-travel, with a fascinating reader

Books where the narration sinks a good book:
Good Omens
Market Forces
posted by blahblahblah at 11:12 AM on November 24, 2011 [12 favorites]

Also, all the Discworld books are very well read, and Robert Jordan's books are well read also.
posted by blahblahblah at 11:16 AM on November 24, 2011

"In the Garden of Iden is a great version of alternate time-travel, with a fascinating reader"

Kage Baker's first novel! Yeah, she's a great new author that died far too young. The Garden of Iden is the first of her Company books, which can become a serious addiction in paper form. My favorite is Sky Coyote, but it doesn't seem to be on Audible.

The Empress of Mars sounds cool, though!
posted by Kevin Street at 11:19 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I adore audiobooks, thanks for this! so much exciting stuff to look into. I'm loving everyone's recommendations here, too - keep them coming.

Anansi Boys was really made for Lenny Henry to read, which he does quite a good job of.

yes! Anansi Boys is just about the best audiobook I've heard, Lenny Henry does the most amazing voices, it's hilarious.

also the discworld books, they are fantastic.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:25 PM on November 24, 2011

My narrator recommendations: Tim Curry also narrates A Series of Unfortunate Events, which, IIRC, is a great performance. (It's been a while since I've heard it.) I also think Mary Robinette Kowal is one of the best narrators ever, and she narrates her own book (Shades of Milk and Honey), though she does a British accent for it, and I'm a terrible judge of whether accents are good or bad. Stephen Fry is also fantastic, he did all the Harry Potters (the British version, probably not on Audible) as well as one of the versions of Hitchhiker's Guide.
posted by NoraReed at 2:25 PM on November 24, 2011

As much as I think Gaiman's a really nice guy and all, I was ready to kind of pooh-pooh this as a likely list of people Gaiman's actually friends with ... and then I saw John Hodgman is going to be reading Robert Sheckley, and I was won over. Well played, Mr. Gaiman, well played.
posted by Amanojaku at 7:30 PM on November 24, 2011

Oh! thanks for the comments where people mention books they enjoy listening to. I was about to go make an askme post for good narrators, and a search pulled up this one. So in case anyone else wanted to know the same thing, here ya go.
posted by bleary at 7:16 AM on November 25, 2011

If we're talking about Jonathan Carroll here, Subterranean Press has announed a limited edition collection of his short stories.
posted by jeather at 6:27 PM on December 21, 2011

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