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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Reader Question About Listen-a-Likes

Here is another real life question from a librarian in the trenches of RA Service. I have received permission to share this question from Pat at Crystal Lake [IL] Public Library. Below I share the question and my response.

If you have a question about a specific patron-- contact me and let’s work on it. I might use it here on the blog to help others.

Question: 
My colleagues and I work with an avid reader with visual difficulties.  At this point she is only able to read via audiobooks and goes through about 10 books a week.  She loves the readers George Guidall and Simon Prebble and mostly wants to read spy fiction or thrillers (no Patterson!).  We are starting to exhaust our supply of audiobooks narrated by these two narrators.  She realizes the situation and is starting to soften on trying other readers, but she is fairly particular about it. My question for you:  Is there a place to go to find sound-alikes for a particular narrator?  Novelist has listen-alikes, but I don’t think the focus is on a specific narrator.
Beckys Answer:


You are correct, there are no specific “listen-a-like” sources. Some of this is because of the fact that people like a narrator for many reasons- some of which as you note in your question have to do with fact that narrators don’t stick to one genre. Prebble and Guidall are two excellent narrators who do read many types of books. 

So while I don’t have a specific sound-a-like resource that will solve her problems magically, I do have a couple of suggestions on ways to help her that she can participate in with you. The result will be more titles for her to enjoy.

First, figure out her favorite books narrated by these two men. Then help her find straight readalikes for those series. But, look them up on Audible before suggesting a title.  This way you can not only listen to a snippet of the narration with her, but you can read her customer reviews that speak about the narration specifically.  Make sure to look at the 5 star and 2 star reviews so that you can see the lovers and the critics. This will help you narrow down the type of book she is looking for first and then select the narrator second.

On Audible you can search by genre and narrator. So if you use NoveList and Goodreads to find readalikes based on the story, then you can go into Audible to refine it a little more. 

Second, in this case Prebble and Guidall are Golden Voices on Audiofile Magazine. The Golden Voice database is an excellent place to begin helping her. Let her know that these are other narrators deemed the best of the best, just like her two favorites. You can start there by listening to others and reading interviews with them about their work. I have had great luck using this page as a starting point to help my audiobook readers who care about the narrator as much as, or even more than, the story itself.

From my experience with patrons who have similar tastes I think she would probably also like Simon Vance and/or Dion Graham. I would start with them. Both read suspense and thrillers.

In general, however, Audiofile Magazine is the only place where you can read critical information about narrators, from reviews to interviews to essays. It takes a little more digging than a simple NoveList search, but everything has an audio clip. Both you and your patron will love using it together. There is so much information there, and since she is willing to try something new, you are bound to find something she will enjoy.

This two-pronged attack will settle the listen-a-like issue because you are considering both the story she wants to read and the style of narration. It is clear that you cannot divorce one from the other with this patron. I am similar. There are narrators I adore in general, but when they narrate a book I don’t like, I still don’t like it. 

Also, since she is such a voracious consumer of audiobooks, this strategy will work well over time. You will never “run out” of books by a specific narrator again because you are considering the content and the narration together. There are always new books coming out, and she will find new series and narrators she enjoys. All of which create more connection points to match her with her next good listen. This strategy broadens her options and will allow you to keep helping her indefinitely. 

2 comments:

Deweyscrapper said...

Disclaimer: I've never listened to a book read by Simon Prebble, and I'm not a big fan of George Guidall. I do love any and all books read by Scott Brick, and he reads a lot of suspense and thrillers. I think Becky's tip of listening to a snippet with your patron is a great idea. You might listen to a snippet read by him with your patron. Good luck!

Becky said...

Interesting comment. I will share that people who love Scott Brick love him, but people who do not-- really do not. I like Scott Brick in small doses and for the right book. The fact that you don't like Guidall and do like Brick does not surprise me. I have a feeing this patron will NOT like Brick, but he is worth a listen- especially for thrillers.