Thursday, June 28, 2012

What Makes a Good Narrator? – Audiobook Week Discussion

Again Jen over at Devourer of Books gives us some discussion questions, Thanks so much Jen for a great job again! Make sure you scroll down on her page and check out all the other blogs joining in for Audiobook Week.
Who are your favorite narrators and why? What do you look for in a narrator? Have a preference between male or female narrators?
Alternate suggestion: Narration preferences – single narrator, multiple narrators, full cast, etc.

What I Look for in a Narrator

The very most important thing to me is, does the narrator fit the audiobook? 
I recently listened to a book where the narrator received mixed feedback from me I was impressed with Maggi-Meg Reed’s narration of the young girl with braces because I knew she had braces before the book mentioned it. However there was a lot of crying and wailing going on and that got annoying so that part of it I had wished I’d read instead of having to hear it. The narration was a bit over the top and I am not totally convinced I wouldn’t have liked this book more if the characters hadn’t all sounded so whiny.

Expression: what exactly this means will depend on the book you’re listening to, but is the level of expression appropriate for the book? Do they avoid falling into melodrama? Do they provide enough emotion to make you invest in the story? If they are narrating nonfiction, do they sound interested in their subject matter?
I guess my answer above kind of fits in here too. I think  2 great examples of non-fiction done well are The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot narrated by, Bahni Turpin & Cassandra Campell & Catherine the Great by, Robert Massie narrated by, Mark Deakins these both had me riveted.

Accents and vocal differentiation: Are any necessary accents believable? Can you tell one character from another?
If a book is Southern Fiction I expect a southern accent, to me it is very important when you can tell one character from another I don’t enjoy when the voice is same inflection all the way through.
I recently listened to the book Revolver by, Marcus Sedgwick narrated by, Peter Berkrot his voices were distinct and you always knew who was talking, he seamlessly went from voicing a 15 year old boy to the gruff and rough Wolff with ease.

Voice: Do I want to sit and listen to this person for 8-20 hours? 
This is an important question recently I saw on audible an unabridged version of Mist of Avalon 50 hours long but the narrator is Davina Porter who I know I can enjoy for that long! I had a recent book where 2 hours into this audiobook I just couldn't listen to the narrator anymore the cadence and tempo of her voice grated on me, other people loved it so it just goes to show its all personal taste.

As for male/female I've come to realize I listen to way more women narrators than men and that may be just the books I read but I am adding more male narrators to my favorites and seeking them out more.

I myself enjoy full-cast narration, multiple narration and theater/radio dramas this is another one of those personal preferences because I have heard people who feel very different.

Alrighty, Favorite Narrators I am going to try to keep this short but I may not succeed:

Katherine Kellgren
Davina Porter
Bahni Turpin
Rosalyn Landor
Caroline Lee
Lorelei King
Cassandra Campbell
Karen White
Xe Sands
Jenna Lamia
Emily Gray
Hilary Huber

Simon Vance
Jim Dale
Kirby Heybourne
James Marsters
Robin Sachs
David Thorpe
Gerard Doyle
Dion Graham
I do believe a couple I discovered this month that will end up on this list in the future are---Scott Brick,Grover Gardner & Peter Berkrot

Alright I am going to stop there I could go on listing great narrators for awhile. My advice is listen to samples take suggestions but don't worry if you don't feel the same way others do about a narrator it is all personal preferences and it's up to you to decide who you like!


  1. Ah Susie! Some great insights, and I'm thrilled to have made your favorites list. You have definitely heard the evolution - LOL!

  2. My next book up if narrated by you too..

  3. Loved hearing your thoughts - especially about distinct voices for multiple characters & the accents.

    Tanya Patrice

  4. Dion Graham is getting all sorts of love this week.

  5. love your point about personal taste. some people describe me has having the most annoying scratchy voice in the world - others claim it is velvety and lyrical... while there is no grey area re performance, there sure is re voice quality! delighted to have made your list susie.