RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
'Tis the season to rev up the old minivan and hit the road for summer vacation. And one way to stave off those are-we-there-yet questions is to get your family hooked on an audiobook and the miles will just fly by. It just so happens that this is the season when there are a lot of new audiobooks to choose from. Just last week, the winners of the annual Audie awards were announced. These are the awards for the best audio books of the year.
And we've got the greatest hits from that event, as well as some books that you can road test yourself this summer on your way to the destination of your choice. And to help guide us through our audiobook selections is Adam Boretz. He covers the wide world of audiobooks for Publishers Weekly. He joins us from our New York bureau. Welcome to the show, Adam.
ADAM BORETZ: Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: OK. So without further ado, who was this year's big winner at the Audies?
BORETZ: This year's big winner was Tina Fey for "Bossypants." She won the Audie for audiobook of the year. She also won for "Memoir."
MARTIN: Okay. Tina Fey doing well at the Audies. Let's get a little sample of that.
(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOBOOK "BOSSYPANTS")
TINA FEY: (Reading) My dad looks like Clint Eastwood. His half-Scottish, half-German face in repose is handsome, but terrifying. I searched the audience for him during the 6th grade chorus concert and seeing his stern expression was convinced that he had seen me messing up the words to the "Happy Days" theme and that I was in big trouble. I spend the rest of the concert suppressing terror burps only to be given a big hug and a kiss afterward. It took me years to realize, oh, that's just his face.
BORETZ: Yeah, she did an amazing job. I think, you know, of all the audiobooks that came out this year, it's probably one of my favorites, and one of the most entertaining.
MARTIN: So you recommend another celebrity-narrated book, the autobiography of trumpet player Miles Davis, which is performed by Dion Graham. Let's take a listen to this.
(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOBOOK "MILES: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY")
DION GRAHAM: (Reading) By the time I was 12, music had become the most important thing in my life. I probably didn't realize how important it would become, but looking back, I can see just how important it was. I still played baseball and football, still hung out with my friends like Miller Curtis(ph) and Donnell Moore(ph), but I was seriously taking trumpet lessons and was really into my horn.
MARTIN: Such a compelling and distinct voice.
BORETZ: Yeah, I think, you know, Dion Graham was probably best known for his role on "The Wire," but has been in film, television and is something of an audiobook celebrity, does an amazing job with that and really kind of inhabiting the character there in a way that I don't think you get with the print edition.
MARTIN: So that's really interesting, though. You think the performance is so important that it can trump good storytelling?
BORETZ: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, you can have a great audio version of a terrible book and a terrible audio version of a classic novel. I think it all comes down to the audio performance.
MARTIN: And for our potential road trippers out there, is there anything you would recommend for that kind of long stretch of highway through, say, the Nevada desert, when there are no distractions and maybe you and your family desperately need one?
BORETZ: Sure. Well, I mean, I think if you're on the desolate highway and you want to lose yourself in a story, I might recommend Nicholas Nickleby. It was narrated by Simon Vance who is one of the best narrators in the world. It won an audio award this year for classics. It comes in at over 30 hours. So if you're going to be on the road for a while, that's probably the one for you.
MARTIN: And what about for families with young kids, you know? You're packing up the whole brood, long drive to the beach, say. Anything that can satisfy a lot of diverse tastes perhaps?
BORETZ: Yeah. Well, I would say, you might want to go with, you know, in terms of family-friendly pick, "A Wrinkle in Time." There's a new recording of that from Listening Library narrated by Hope Davis.
MARTIN: Let's take a listen.
(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOBOOK, "A WRINKLE IN TIME")
HOPE DAVIS: (Reading) Everybody was asleep, everybody except Meg. Even Charles Wallace, the dumb baby brother, who had an uncanny way of knowing when she was awake and unhappy and who would come so many nights tip-toeing up the attic stairs to her. Even Charles Wallace was asleep.
BORETZ: The kids will enjoy that. Parents will probably remember reading it in their youth and it could satisfy everybody.
MARTIN: OK. Well, you've inspired me. You've given me all kinds of fodder for plenty of distraction. Adam Boretz is the editor of the Publishers Weekly blog, Listen Up. He joined us from our studios in New York. Thanks so much, Adam.
BORETZ: Oh, thank you for having me.
MARTIN: Happy road tripping.
BORETZ: And to you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.