December 2019/January 2020

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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As the year draws to a close, it's likely that a flood of "best" lists has reached you. Best toys, best winter vacations, best new apps, and, of course, best books. We join this end-of-the-year fray with our choices for 2019 Best Audiobooks. It's a slightly impossible task to select a mere 53 from the 2,500 audio- books we reviewed this year. There is SO much good listening. We have already honored 257 titles with our Earphones Award that signals "exceptional listening." So how do we refine the recommendations to just five or six audiobooks in each of the nine categories? We always start with our reviews, and the Earphones titles get onto the longlist along with other audiobooks we have given extra attention. As managing editor Jennifer Dowell and I sit down to review final choices, we do factor in personal favorites. I loved the obscure Marylebone Drop (as did our reviewer) and Harlan Coben's Run Away. Jenn favored Frankly in Love, and editor Emily Connelly lobbied for Get a Life, Chloe Brown. In the end we have to concur and make the difficult final choices. One criterion that sometimes tips the balance for a selection is whether the audio version made the experience particularly unique and different from what a print reader would get. Why is Jason Reynolds's Look Both Ways such a dynamic listening experience, and what lifts Emma Donghue's Akin to the top of our list when in print it got mixed reviews? The narrators, of course! We want to include those titles with an extra dose of excellence via the listening experience. We always want to honor the voices—the narrators who make the magic. And we make an effort to represent the variety of performance and production styles. The exceptional single-voice performance is as important as ever, but we also represent the big sound of GraphicAudio, the brilliant ensemble of Charlotte's Web, and the staged reading of the play A Walk in the Woods. There's always a soupçon of pixie dust in the process, so please enjoy our selections for 2019 and fill your earphones with great listening. Editor's Notes Photo by Kevin Brusie Robin Whitten Editor and Founder December 2019/January 2020 n 5 Behind the Scenes of the 2019 Best Audiobooks

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