Sunday, October 23, 2011

Celebrities Turn to Audio Book Narration

Posted by Simcha 5:20 PM, under | 2 comments

According to an article in the Guardian, Audible will be launching a new series of literary classic audiobooks which will be narrated by Hollywood celebrities. Kate Winslet is already on-board, eager for the chance to read Thérèse Raquin,  and Nicole Kidman is all set to read Virgina Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Colin Firth is also among the actors to be cast as book narrators, and he has chosen to read Graham Greene's The End of the Affair.

From The Guardian:

    The recordings will be launched next year by Audible, the UK's largest provider of downloadable audiobooks, and a US subsidiary of Amazon. Its founder, Donald Katz, told the Observer: "Colin Firth could read me the back of a Marmite jar and I would listen… I'd pay Dustin Hoffman to read from a cereal box."  
    Katz believes big-name narrators could inspire new interest in classic literature. "Great actors add nuances and make these performances their own," he said. Winslet's recording has, he said, turned a dark, erotic tale into a compelling experience....

    Other readers include Kim Basinger (narrating The Awakening, Kate Chopin's 1899 novel set in New Orleans) and Samuel L Jackson (Chester Himes's 1965 book, A Rage in Harlem). Recordings take only a few days, fitting nicely into breaks between actors' other projects.

I think this sounds like a fantastic idea. I had recently tried to listen to an audio version of War and Peace but I had hard time paying attention because the narrator's voice was so quivery that it irritated me. But I imagine that if James Marsters were reading it (hint, hint Audible) then I probably would have listened to the book twice (that man got me through the first two Dresden books, after all).

And I'm sure that Katz is right that that this will help in getting more people to listen to classic audio books, both readers and non-readers alike. Just connecting the names of famous stars to particular classic works of literature will bring more attention to those books and make them seem more appealing and approachable.

I have been intending for a while now to listen to classic audio books more regularly, to make up for the fact that I don't have time to read them, and I'm really looking forward to this project. It will definitely make some of those challenging classics more palatable if I have my favorite actor or actress reading it directly to me.


As long as they have a good voice I would listen cos bad narrators have so far ruined my experience

This is going to be marvelous! I'm seriously looking forward to what actors and audio books will come out of this!
Pabkins @ Mission to Read

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