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February 2023 Earphones Award Winners

The award is given by AudioFile to truly exceptional titles that excel in narrative voice and style, characterizations, suitability to audio, and enhancement of the text.



THE ASTONISHING CHRONICLES OF OSCAR FROM ELSEWHERE

THE ASTONISHING CHRONICLES OF OSCAR FROM ELSEWHERE

Earphones Award Winner

by Jaclyn Moriarty | Read by Dorje Swallow, Rebecca Norfolk

Recorded Books
Children

Dorje Swallow and Rebecca Norfolk alternate narrating duties in this fantasy quest. Six children and an elf search for the pieces of a key that are needed to save an Elven village from destruction. Oscar is a skateboarding teenager who finds himself sucked into this alternative world. In Swallow's hands, Oscar is a laid-back Australian with dashes of wry humor and charm.... Read More

BIRD BY BIRD: 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

BIRD BY BIRD: 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Earphones Award Winner

by Anne Lamott | Read by Anne Lamott

Random House Audio
Personal Growth

Listening to Anne Lamott deliver her classic treatise on writing, life, and the writing life is akin to enrolling in what turns out to be your favorite college seminar. Twenty-five years after publication, and long after Lamott performed an abridged version, we get to appreciate her take on the complete book. An experienced public speaker, Lamott narrates with precision and... Read More

THE CLIMATE BOOK

THE CLIMATE BOOK

Earphones Award Winner

by Greta Thunberg | Read by Amelia Stubberfield, Greta Thunberg, Nicholas Khan, Olivia Forrest

Penguin Audio
Contemporary Culture

The young Swedish climate activist and symbol of the fight against global warming, Greta Thunberg, reads English surprisingly well at an effective pace. Her voice rings with passion, palpable emotion, and earnest commitment. She is joined by a talented trio of English narrators who bring skill and understanding to these often frightening essays. Climate experts and other... Read More

CON/ARTIST

CON/ARTIST

Earphones Award Winner

by Tony Tetro, Giampiero Ambrosi | Read by Richard Ferrone, Tony Tetro, Giampiero Ambrosi

Hachette Audio
Biography & Memoir

With his trademark tough-guy growl, Richard Ferrone captures the casual confidence, wobbly moral compass, and street-smart charm of Tony Tetro, an art forger extraordinaire. Showing up in California during the swinging 1970s, the self-taught artist found he had a natural aptitude for imitating almost any painting style--from Picasso to Dali to masters like Caravaggio. Tetro's... Read More

THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY

THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY

Earphones Award Winner

by Edith Wharton | Read by Laurel Lefkow

Naxos AudioBooks
Classics

Laurel Lefkow gives a stellar performance as she introduces Edith Wharton's 1913 characters to a 21st-century audience. The story features one of literature's least likable heroines, Undine Spragg. Lefkow gives her a simpering, cloying, sometimes whiny voice, which is perfectly suited to this shallow, spoiled, and self-absorbed young woman. Undine has four marriages as she... Read More

THE DAUGHTERS OF IZDIHAR

THE DAUGHTERS OF IZDIHAR

Earphones Award Winner

by Hadeer Elsbai | Read by Priya Ayyar, Nikki Massoud

Harper Audio
Fantasy

Narrators Priya Ayyar and Nikki Massoud accentuate the differences in the status of two women. In an Egyptian fantasy society, women are fighting for suffrage and control over their lives. Ayyar introduces the listener to Nehal, the daughter of a family that knows privilege. Ayyar's portrayal captures Nehal's haughty persona; she is aggressive and ambitious with little thought... Read More

THE FIREBALLER

THE FIREBALLER

Earphones Award Winner

by Mark Stevens | Read by Shea Taylor

Brilliance Audio
Fiction

Frank Ryder can throw a baseball well over 105 mph. But behind every pitch is an emotional weight that comes from a tragic event that happened years earlier. Ryder takes Major League Baseball by storm, but his past haunts him, and much of the league's ownership turns on him. Shea Taylor is outstanding with every voice. He excels at differentiating men's and women's voices and... Read More

HELL BENT

HELL BENT

Earphones Award Winner

by Leigh Bardugo | Read by Lauren Fortgang, Michael David Axtell

Macmillan Audio
Fantasy

Lauren Fortgang and Michael David Axtell return to narrate the second audiobook in the Alex Stern series. Determined to break her mentor, Darlington, out of the underworld, Alex teams up with unexpected allies in a forbidden ritual. Fortgang, the primary narrator, voices Alex with overconfidence that masks her dark secrets, emotionally connecting with her distress and sorrow as... Read More

HOLD, PLEASE

HOLD, PLEASE

Earphones Award Winner

by Richard Hester | Read by Richard Hester

Sordelet Audio
Biography & Memoir

There are many reasons to love this long, important audiobook. One big reason is author/narrator Richard Hester's excellent delivery. Another is the memoir's intrinsic value to contemporary American history. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, while we were all in a state of fear and confusion, Hester was taking notes. An observant recorder, the Broadway stage... Read More

THE HOUSE OF EVE

THE HOUSE OF EVE

Earphones Award Winner

by Sadeqa Johnson | Read by Ariel Blake, Nicole Lewis

Simon & Schuster Audio
Fiction

Ariel Blake and Nicole Lewis provide an excellent dual narration of this fascinating look at two young Black women who confront racial, class, and gender inequities in the 1950s. Blake captivates as 15-year-old Rosa, who is striving for a college scholarship to escape her poor Philadelphia neighborhood and her mother, who chooses her boyfriends over her. Lewis superbly portrays... Read More

THE MAN WHO BROKE CAPITALISM

THE MAN WHO BROKE CAPITALISM

Earphones Award Winner

by David Gelles | Read by Kevin R. Free

Simon & Schuster Audio
Business & Finance

This takedown of the legendary CEO of General Electric would be interesting even without Kevin R. Free's exceptional performance. But his artistry provides exceptional listening. Nevermind Free's appealing diction, impressive phrasing, and ability to orchestrate the ebb and flow of mood or tone. What really impresses is how perfectly he applies these vocal skills to every... Read More

MANDELA: THE LOST TAPES

MANDELA: THE LOST TAPES

Earphones Award Winner

by Richard Stengel [Ed.] | Read by Nelson Mandela, Richard Stengel

Audible, Inc.
Biography & Memoir

This work is not a book--it's history. While hearing Nelson Mandela talk about his life and his work to achieve an inclusive South African government is wonderful enough in itself, the additional commentary narrated by the author creates a multidimensional work that will transport listeners. Stengel's bridging narration connects the taped segments of Mandela and adds important... Read More

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

Earphones Award Winner

by Iris Johansen, Roy Johansen | Read by Elisabeth Rodgers

Hachette Audio
Mystery & Suspense

Elisabeth Rodgers narrates the latest installment in the Kendra Michaels series. This intense thriller opens with a group of FBI agents being led to a victim's burial site by serial killer James Michael Barrett. But when they get there, a bomb explodes, killing almost everyone. Kendra Michaels, an FBI consultant who used to be blind, is called to the scene. Her allies race to... Read More

THE NIGHT TRAVELERS

THE NIGHT TRAVELERS

Earphones Award Winner

by Armando Lucas Correa | Read by Edoardo Ballerini

Simon & Schuster Audio
Historical Fiction

Edoardo Ballerini is in excellent form as he provides a gripping performance that captures the backdrop of historical events. Lilith is born into the omnipresent terror of Nazi Germany. Her mother eventually makes the heartbreaking choice to send her, alone, to Cuba, for the possibility of a better life. Once there, Lilith embarks on a second life, never knowing what happened... Read More

THE NO LEAF CLOVER

THE NO LEAF CLOVER

Earphones Award Winner

by Jon L. Young | Read by C.J. McAllister

Jon L. Young
Science Fiction

C.J. McAllister narrates an unusual take on the apocalypse that follows when supernatural/paranormal creatures are unleashed upon the land. Humanity can barely eke out a living as the creatures compete to dominate the new landscape. Rod Calaway seeks to destroy the creatures in the singular hope of returning Earth to humanity. McAllister is captivating with his variety of... Read More

OF SALT AND SHORE

OF SALT AND SHORE

Earphones Award Winner

by Annet Schaap | Read by Tavia Gilbert

Full Cast Audio
Children

Tavia Gilbert single-handedly delivers this production, and is she ever up to the job. She evokes the story's characters--Lampie, the lonely, motherless lighthouse keeper's daughter; Lampie's self-hating, alcoholic father; Edward, the angry, neglected child immured in the Black House, where Lampie is indentured; and more. Gilbert shades her delivery as the third-person close... Read More

ON THE ROOFTOP

ON THE ROOFTOP

Earphones Award Winner

by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton | Read by Robin Miles

Harper Audio
Fiction

Robin Miles transports listeners to 1950s San Francisco to meet mother Vivian, who wants her children to be famous singers, and daughters Ruth, Esther, and Chloe, whose wants differ. Miles fully embodies Vivian as she talks about growing up in Louisiana, negotiates with a music manager, professes her love for the preacher, and reacts to Ruth's becoming pregnant, Esther's... Read More

PESTS

PESTS

Earphones Award Winner

by Bethany Brookshire | Read by Courtney Patterson

Harper Audio
Contemporary Culture

Courtney Patterson is an especially engaging narrator whose pleasingly expressive voice can make almost any topic palpable, including rats, mice, and other common vermin. Pests. In some places they're elephants, or cats. The listener will be surprised to hear how many varieties there are, and how deeply pests are wedded to the human ecosystem and the balance of nature... Read More

THE POISON SEASON

THE POISON SEASON

Earphones Award Winner

by Mara Rutherford | Read by Amanda Dolan

Harlequin Audio
Young Adult

Amanda Dolan mesmerizes listeners with her raw portrayal of Endla, a mysterious magical island inhabited by fierce protectors and surrounded by a poisonous lake to deter outsiders from entering. Teenager Leelo possesses the gift of magical song that is necessary for the island's survival; those who don't have the same gift, such as her younger brother, are exiled from the... Read More

RED SAUCE

RED SAUCE

Earphones Award Winner

by Ian MacAllen | Read by Paul Bellantoni

Tantor Media
Contemporary Culture

Narrator Paul Bellantoni has a fine delivery and a rich tone. He ably narrates this witty audiobook. His pace allows the many stories of Italian-American/American-Italian food to stay with the listener. The work is part celebration of the traditional checkered tablecloth spaghetti-and-meatball joints that were common in the U.S. for decades and part revelation of the origins of... Read More

THE SKEPTICS' GUIDE TO THE FUTURE

THE SKEPTICS' GUIDE TO THE FUTURE

Earphones Award Winner

by Steven Novella, Bob Novella, Jay Novella | Read by Steven Novella

Hachette Audio
Contemporary Culture

The voice behind the long-running podcast "The Skeptics' Guide" to the Universe" is back with this fascinating look at the future of science and technology. Dr. Novella is thoroughly comfortable with the subject matter and technical language, and his welcoming New England-tinged voice is inviting for the nonscientist. With humility and just the right amount of detail, he... Read More

SLEEP NO MORE

SLEEP NO MORE

Earphones Award Winner

by Jayne Ann Krentz | Read by Eva Kaminsky

Recorded Books
Romantic Fiction

Eva Kaminsky provides a dynamic narration of the mysterious situation that author Ambrose Drake and interior designer and podcaster Pallas Llewellyn find themselves in. After the pair have a night they can't remember, they awaken to find that they have enhanced psychic abilities. Ambrose contacted Pallas to help him investigate a murder. Ambrose limits his sleep to catnapping... Read More

SMALL WORLD

SMALL WORLD

Earphones Award Winner

by Laura Zigman | Read by Stacey Glemboski

Harper Audio
Fiction

Narrator Stacey Glemboski gives an extraordinary performance of this immersive family drama. Middle-aged sisters Joyce and Lydia, who are both divorced and childless, decide to live together in Joyce's Cambridge apartment. The story is told from the perspective of Joyce, whose defensive, prickly persona is wonderfully captured by Glemboski. Lydia's social awkwardness is... Read More

THE SORCERER OF PYONGYANG

THE SORCERER OF PYONGYANG

Earphones Award Winner

by Marcel Theroux | Read by Marcel Theroux

Simon & Schuster Audio
Fiction

Author/journalist Marcel Theroux narrates his fascinating story of everyday life in North Korea with graceful aplomb. In 1995, when Cho Jun-Su was 11, he found a smuggled copy of Dungeons and Dragons. A teacher helps him understand the game by translating it for him. The game changes the trajectory of his life forever. Cho Jun-Su lives through a brutally oppressive regime,... Read More

THE SPEAR CUTS THROUGH WATER

THE SPEAR CUTS THROUGH WATER

Earphones Award Winner

by Simon Jimenez | Read by Joel de la Fuente

Random House Audio
Fantasy

Joel de la Fuente skillfully narrates this sweeping historical fantasy audiobook. Keema, a disabled outcast, and Jun, grandson of the emperor, are sent on a mission to rescue the Moon goddess from her three terrible sons to end their tyrannical reign. De la Fuente immerses listeners in this atmospheric story in which each character, from the powerful goddess to a seemingly... Read More

THE SUMMER OF BITTER AND SWEET

THE SUMMER OF BITTER AND SWEET

Earphones Award Winner

by Jen Ferguson | Read by Julie Lumsden

Harper Audio
Young Adult

Julie Lumsden portrays 18-year-old Lou, a biracial Métis. Lumsden's steady pacing captures the stresses of Lou's continual encounters with racism, violence, financial insecurity, and the repercussions of the lies she's told to survive. Lumsden's performance also reflects Lou's complex feelings about her wealthy white biological father, who raped her mother. As Lou's... Read More

THIS IS NOT A PERSONAL STATEMENT

THIS IS NOT A PERSONAL STATEMENT

Earphones Award Winner

by Tracy Badua | Read by Ferdelle Capistrano

Harper Audio
Young Adult

Ferdelle Capistrano gives a spirited performance as Perla, whose whole life has been planned by her overreaching parents. They expect her to go to Delmont University and become a doctor. But after all her college prep work fails to get her into Delmont, Perla disguises herself as another student and goes there anyway to avoid her parents' disappointment. Capistrano captures the... Read More

TRESPASSES

TRESPASSES

Earphones Award Winner

by Louise Kennedy | Read by Brid Brennan

Penguin Audio
Fiction

Set near Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the Troubles, this audiobook is beautifully written and expertly performed. Brid Brennan's delivery of Kennedy's prose is lovely: Her accent and tone are perfectly matched to each character she voices. Clear-eyed descriptions so carefully wrought come alive in her calmly paced care. In the story, Cushla Lavery is a young Catholic... Read More

UNRAVELING

UNRAVELING

Earphones Award Winner

by Peggy Orenstein | Read by Peggy Orenstein

Harper Audio
Biography & Memoir

During the Covid lockdown, Peggy Orenstein, notable author and journalist, decided to knit a sweater from scratch--meaning she sheared the wool from the sheep, then washed, carded, spun, and dyed it. With no prior experience, she intended to simply appreciate each step and accept the results, whatever they might be. But during the process she learned many more things about... Read More

WARHOLCAPOTE

WARHOLCAPOTE

Earphones Award Winner

by Rob Roth | Read by Dan Butler, Stephen Spinella, Dennis Boutsikaris, Rob Roth, Blake Gopnik [Preface]

Simon & Schuster Audio
Poetry & Drama

Stephen Spinella and Dan Butler reprise their 2017 Broadway roles as Andy Warhol and Truman Capote in this funny, touching, and deceptively straightforward dialogue between the famous pair. It is based solely on their private conversations recorded on 59 audio cassettes in the late 1970s to early '80s. With a preface read by art critic Blake Gopnik and the fascinating history... Read More

WINTERLAND

WINTERLAND

Earphones Award Winner

by Rae Meadows | Read by Daphne Kouma

Macmillan Audio
Fiction

In 1973 Russia, the State chose talented school children to pursue careers in either ballet or gymnastics. Daphne Kouma offers a beautiful performance, meticulously detailing 8-year-old Anya's experiences. After Anya is chosen, we hear about her stresses, hopes, and dreams, as well as the damage to her body and mental state as she moves up the ranks of competitive gymnastics.... Read More

WRITTEN IN BLOOD

WRITTEN IN BLOOD

Earphones Award Winner

by Caroline Graham | Read by John Hopkins

Bolinda Audio
Mystery & Suspense

John Hopkins performs the fourth in the Midsomer Murders series with gusto, transporting listeners to 1990s rural England. He brings to life Chief Inspector Barnaby and his sidekick, Troy, as they seek to find the murderer of a retired civil servant whose violent death came after a seemingly harmless meeting of the local writers group. Hopkins's talent for characterization is... Read More

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