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If your holiday shopping trip includes a stop at the bookstore, you might consider adding audiobooks to your gift list. And this year, as you slip on headphones to sample the offerings, what you hear might surprise you.
According to Robin Whitten, the founder and editor of AudioFile magazine, the genre has far surpassed the conventions of the taped readings of yore.
An emphasis on theatrical elements, she says, "expands what audio listening can be, so that we can't just think of it as a single narrator who sort of takes you through a literary novel or a fabulous mystery," Whitten says. "Audio publishers are really expanding the envelope in the way they look — with multiple narrators, sound effects and sound design, as well as a single voice just telling you a great story."
Whitten gives NPR's Linda Wertheimer her recommendations for some of the most notable audiobooks released in 2013. On Morning Edition, she talks up a music-filled collection, a superhero story and a compellingly-narrated novel; for NPR.org, she includes a book with a bevy of narrators.
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For this month's Environmental Outlook: Ten years ago, Israel experienced a prolonged drought that forced the country to come up with a strategy to address water scarcity. What its experience could teach an increasingly water-starved planet.