The Next Chapter

Why Susan Juby loves audiobooks

The award-winning author explains why she loves listening to books so much, and shares some of her favourites.
The author of Republic of Dirt shares her favourite audiobooks. (Delgado Photography)

Long gone are the days when the only way to enjoy a book was to crack open a hardcover or paperback edition. Now, of course, you can catch up on your favourite author's latest on an e-reader, tablet or even your phone. And for those who prefer to have someone read to them, there are always audiobooks — Susan Juby's go-to. The author of many acclaimed YA books, as well as the 2016 Stephen Leacock Medal-winning novel Republic of Dirt, Juby is an occasional columnist for The Next Chapter.

From Victoria, B.C., she talks about why audiobooks are so dear to her heart and recommends three of her favourites. This interview originally aired in January 2017.

Her audiobook strategy 

I love a long audiobook. If I'm going to pay for an audiobook I want it to be as long as possible. I find I can squeeze in the time in my day to read shorter paper copies, but for a really long book, audiobooks work really well. So I just chose the biggest ones, and then a series that I love. 

Louise Penny's books read by Ralph Cosham and Robert Bathurst

​Audiobook readers, or listeners, fall in love with the books' readers. One of my favourite writers is Louise Penny and about six of her audiobooks were read by Ralph Cosham. A lot of us were very attached to Ralph Cosham's work, but he passed away suddenly and I think it was really difficult for her listeners to understand that their reader was going to change. The series has been taken over by Robert Bathurst — he's taken over the narration of the last two books in the series and he's done a superb job. He has a different quality of voice, but he captures the humour of the books and some of the poetry that Louise Penny includes. She's got this really compelling warmth in her books and he's got that. 

The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl

I would consider this a gateway audiobook for people, because they are so long. The first two books in the projected trilogy are The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear. This story is full of adventure and delights, and the longer it goes on the deeper it gets. My university students raved about these books, and after I listened to them I understood their enthusiasm. Even if you've already read them, you should probably listen to the audiobooks. Nick Podehl has the perfect voice for an epic, coming-of-age magician's tale. 

Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon, narrated by Andrew Solomon

Not all author-read books really work, Andrew Solomon has this particular and quiet, deliberate way of speaking that works beautifully with his subject matter. He spent 10 years working on this book, and interviewed hundreds of families on topics ranging from raising deaf children to children with multiple disabilities, transgender kids to musical prodigies. This book is packed with historical, political, medical and social information, as well as a host of gripping individual family portraits. For a book that's really full of information, it's as compelling in the 40th hour as it is in the first. 

Susan Juby's comments have been edited and condensed.