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Find more The Listen List
The Listen List Council of the Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) has announced the 2021 selections of the Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration. This year’s committee evaluated 284 titles with a total listening time of more than 3,118 hours. The final deliberation produced a list of 12 winners. This award highlights extraordinary narrators and listening experiences that merit special attention by a general adult audience and the librarians who advise them. Full annotations and listen-alikes appear online.
Bear Necessity. By James Gould-Bourn. Read by Rupert Holliday-Evans. 2020. 8h. Simon and Schuster, DD, $19.99 (9781797109671).
Holliday-Evans’ sensitive characterizations and spot-on comedic timing bring out the sweetness and depth in this story of friendship, redemption, and love.
A Burning. By Megha Majumdar. Read by a full cast. 2020. 7.5hr. Books on Tape, DD, $66.50 (9780593212110).
Authentic full-cast narration reveals the complexity of the characters’ hopes and fears while providing insight into the rigid social system that constricts their options.
The Girl with the Louding Voice. By Abi Daré. Read by Adjoa Andoh. 2020. 12hr. Books on Tape, DD, $95 (9780593168738).
With rhythmic, accented speech, Andoh passionately embodies the warmth and courageous spirit of this remarkable girl who wants only to have a say in her own future.
Homie. By Danez Smith. Read by the author. 2020. 1.5hr. HighBridge, DD, $8.99 (9781684577392).
Influenced by hip-hop, Smith’s poetry explores growing up Black and queer in America with a freshness and power that will captivate poetry fans and casual listeners.
Make Me Rain. By Nikki Giovanni. Read by the author. 2020. 2hr. Harper, DD, $13.99 (9780062999634).
American treasure Nikki Giovanni examines the personal and political in this timely collection narrated with intimacy.
Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust: My Friendship with Patsy Cline. By Loretta Lynn. Read by Patsy Lynn Russell. 2020. 5h. Hachette Audio, DD, $25.98 (9781549127434).
Russell, Lynn’s daughter and Cline’s namesake, narrates, and her sweet southern twang adds authenticity and tenderness to this beautiful tribute to women’s friendship.
My Dark Vanessa. By Kate Elizabeth Russell. Read by Grace Gummer. 2020. 16h. HarperAudio, DD $34.49 (9780062941534).
Gummer’s compelling depiction of Vanessa from naive teenager to world-weary adult makes this an unforgettable listen.
The Only Good Indians. By Stephen Graham Jones. Read by Shaun Taylor-Corbett. 2020. 9.5hr. Simon & Schuster Audio, DD, $19.99 (9781797105550).
Taylor-Corbett, a Native American narrator, uses a lilting accent to capture tension and dread, creating an unearthly atmosphere for listeners.
Tiny Imperfections. By Alli Frank and Asha Youmans. Read by Bahni Turpin. 2020. 10h. Books on Tape, DD $76 (9780593163832).
Turpin masterfully embodies an ensemble of characters and their snappy dialogue with genuine emotion and passion.
The Trial of the Chicago 7: The Official Transcript. Ed. by Mark L. Levine. Read by a full cast. 2020. 10.5hr. Simon & Schuster Audio, DD, $24.99 (9781797114927).
This riveting full-cast reenactment of the infamous trial is the ticket to the outrageous courtroom circus.
The Vanishing Half. By Brit Bennett. Read by Shayna Small. 2020. 12hr. Books on Tape, DD, $95 (9780525637165).
With exquisite delicacy, Small communicates race, age, gender, and social status, honoring the individuality of each voice within this intergenerational story.
Wow, No Thank You. By Samantha Irby. Read by the author. 2020. 10hr. Books on Tape, DD, $85.50 (9780593170700).
Irby’s honest and occasionally snarky narration showcases her capacity to see the humor in all situations, even those involving uncomfortable struggles.
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