I have listened to hundreds of unabridged audiobooks of novels.
My all-time favorite fiction audiobooks are:
1. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Why they’re my favs:
1. Great narrators
2. Dynamic plots
3. Authentic dialects
4. “Hershey bar” details (credit for this phrase goes to my high school AP English teacher Ms. Edington -Thanks!!)
5. Southern issues
Gaines’ ‘Lesson’ is the late 1940s tumultuous story of a Louisiana teacher, Grant Wiggins. He must help an inmate, Jefferson, whose been convicted of murder learn to become a man en route to the death chamber. Jefferson's attorney called his client "a hog" during the trial, setting off Miss Emma, the condemned man's godmother. She tasks Wiggins with helping Jefferson die like a man, not a hog. The audiobook lifts the words from the novel, transforming them into miniscule arrows that gently drive into your brain. As a result, you are determined to hear all of the characters' points of view, along with understanding the settings, the conflict and the ending. After I finished the audiobook, I felt a sweet sadness because this digital roller coaster ride had ended and I had to, regrettably, head to the nearest exit. This Oprah Book Club selection is deeply moving.
A Lesson Before Dying Reading Group Guide
The first time I heard “teaaacake” was when Dee put her spin on it and I can still hear her emphatic pronouncement. Tea Cake, a much younger man, is Crawford’s last husband. Dee aptly manages the dialects while guiding the listener through Crawford’s adventures. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, who recovered Hurston’s work, is quoted as saying “there is no book more important to me than this one.”
Their Eyes Were Watching God Reading
Each of the narrators is great in precisely delivering his or her characters’ lines. In fact they were so good, I forgot this was an audiobook. At times, it felt like they were in the room or in the car with me because their drawls, pauses and reading speeds are so well-executed. The plot is rich, the writing great and the tension taut. And, I wonder if sales of Crisco have skyrocketed, by the way.
The Help Reading Guide