DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As we approach the end of the year, we've been asking people for their best of 2012 lists. Let's turn to some books you may have missed. You should think about giving them a listen.

We're talking about audiobooks. Robin Whitten reviews them. She's editor and founder of AudioFile magazine, and she brought in some favorites.

Robin Whitten, welcome to the program.

ROBIN WHITTEN: Thank you, David. Glad to be here.

GREENE: Well, let's get right to one of the books on your list and it's called "Toothiana" by William Joyce. Is that right?

WHITTEN: Yes, it is. What a great name.

GREENE: Yeah, I like it. Let's give a listen.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOBOOK, "TOOTHIANA")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Reading) Patter and Fog, feeling wild and industrious, catapulted themselves to the hollow of a tall tree where they had erected a hideout devoted to solving ancient mysteries. Such as: why was there such a thing as bedtime and what could they do to eliminate it forever.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: It's a - sounds like this might be a good book for listening on a family road trip. What's the story here?

WHITTEN: Oh, this is fantastic. Well, "Toothiana" is one of William Joyce's books that's in "The Guardians of Childhood" series. And he has the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and St. Nicholas who all become superheroes through these various books.

GREENE: A-ha.

WHITTEN: And they are the guardians of childhood and of dreams, in particular - good dreams.

GREENE: What qualities really make it clear that a book is just perfect for audio?

WHITTEN: Well, oftentimes, episodic stories and mysteries. You know, mostly, you know, in fiction it's easier to see how audio books and the audio medium work.

GREENE: And, Robin, when you do have a sample of nonfiction on your list. It's a book called "The Art of Power." It's about Thomas Jefferson. Let's give a listen to that.

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOBOOK, "THOMAS JEFFERSON: THE ART OF POWER")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Reading) At age 10, Thomas was sent into the woods alone with a gun. The assignment, the expectation, was that he was to come home with evidence that he could survive on his own in the wild.

(Reading) The test did not begin well. He killed nothing, had nothing to show for himself. The woods were forbidding. Everything around the boy - the trees and the thickets and the rocks and the river - was frightening and frustrating. He refused to give up or give in. He soldiered on until his luck finally changed.

(Reading) Finding a wild turkey caught in a pen, the family story went, he tied it with his garter to a tree, shot it, and carried it home in triumph.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: You know, it really is - it's nonfiction, but it's almost told in a kind of fiction-style way. You kind of get into the scene and feel, you know, you're imagining yourself there.

WHITTEN: Right, and I think that the author, you know, wanted us to do that. And so, you know, some readers do that naturally. And you can be that involved as you see the words on the page. But in audio, you know, the narrator helps place you there in the woods.

GREENE: You know, one question I have, some of these audio books they bring in celebrities to do the reading. Like Colin Firth is reading "The End of the Affair," a book by Graham Greene. How do you think - I mean, a good idea to have a famous voice?

WHITTEN: Well, I think that what is quite exciting about that is for a lot of people who've never really considered or been interested in an audio book, they think, oh, I love Colin Firth. I love his voice.

GREENE: From the screen, yeah.

WHITTEN: From the screen, and so they may try something. And they also may not really know who Graham Greene is or ever, you know, encountered this book, but they're attracted to it so they're going to give it a try. And, you know, Colin Firth's voice is beautiful and he has a really special way of, you know, being inside the story, which is actually a personal favorite of his.

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOBOOK, "THE END OF THE AFFAIR")

COLIN FIRTH: (Reading) I said Henry, Holmes is a stranger. And so his eyes light up as though we were old friends. Bendrix, he said with affection, and yet the world would have said he had the reasons for hate. Not me.

WHITTEN: And he brings across some of the interesting intimacy that the audio book medium is really known for. Because the book is so intimate and, you know, it's really - it's in your head, as if he's telling just you.

GREENE: Well, Robin Whitten, thank you so much for joining us to talk about this.

WHITTEN: Thank you, David. It was great.

GREENE: Robin Whitten, of AudioFile magazine, with some recommendations for books to listen to.

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