The conjunction of the podcast universe with the established world of audiobooks is very interesting, because a bunch of podcasts have Audible.com as a sponsor. Joe Rogan has listened to a lot of audiobooks on road trips, and calls them an “awesome resource.” That’s one of the reasons why he is so smart.
Of course it’s important that audiobooks should be narrated well. Sometimes, who reads it out loud makes an incredible difference. This first group is characterized by a perfect match between narrator and book:
The Aubry/Maturin series, narrated by Patrick Tull
The Screwtape Letters, narrated by John Cleese (written by C. S. Lewis.)
Unfortunately, Audible.com doesn’t have it, but does have the same book read by others.
Peter Matthiessen’s novels, narrated by George Guidall et al
Motherless Brooklyn narrated by Frank Muller (written by Jonathan Lethem)
If Joe Rogan asked me to recommend one audiobook, Motherless Brooklyn would be it. (Hmmmm. Audible.com offers plenty of other Lethem works, but not this one.)
Dave Robicheaux series written by James Lee Burke
These are narrated by their authors, and nobody else could have done it so well:
Consider the Lobster – David Foster Wallace.
This could be a road book. You pick up a hitchhiker who wears a bandana to keep his head from exploding, and he entertains you the whole time with wonderful smart and funny stories, and you’re sorry to see him go.
Toyer – Gardner McKay
Another audiobook I’d confidently recommend to Joe Rogan himself. Maybe not for a road trip, though. Not if there are any distractions, because of the easily-missed nuances. The ideal listening environment might be in a puffy chair, with a fireplace nearby. (Ooops – Audible.com doesn’t seem to have this one, either.)
Tortilla Flats – T. Coraghessan Boyle.
American on Purpose – Craig Ferguson
I love this guy.
*****For the expanded, detailed version of this list, see Splendid Audiobooks, and Why. My credentials for having an opinion about why: Recorded books are a big part of my life, since I listen constantly while doing craft work, painting pictures, washing dishes, etc. Television is off the agenda, and even radio is annoying, so tapes/CDs/podcasts are my main source of both enlightenment and entertainment. There may be some blind people who listen to more audio prose than I do, but not many sighted people have heard so many hours of books.
If the people who make audio books were were smart, they would…
Get Ace Backwords to read Acid Heroes.
You know what else would make a knockout audiobook, or series of podcasts? The Alexandria Quartet, recorded in 1976 for KPFK Radio, read by dozens of actors, produced by Jay Kugelman and Philomene Long. Apparently there is some problem with rights but damn, couldn’t somebody make this happen, somehow?
Here’s an elegant scenario: Christina Pazsitzky narrating Ghost Town: A Venice California Life. I’d like to send her a copy, but can’t find an address. Sigh. She’s so smart, with a penetrating eye and a ton of attitude, and yet a plethora of mellow depths. I love her voice, and she can talk ghetto if the occasion warrants. Perfect. I wish somebody would pay my favorite Mommy a pile of dollars to read my book out loud.