Listen to The Shape of Water, best picture winner at the 90th Academy Awards

I can think of no better way to spend a Sunday than celebrating great storytelling, munching on popcorn, and discussing the importance of diversity and representation. In other words, the 90th Academy Awards did not disappoint — especially when the winner for best picture was announced.

In addition to winning best picture, The Shape of Water, an intricate and powerful story that seamlessly weaves fantasy, horror, and romance together, also took home awards for best director, best original music score, and best production design. The Shape of Water is set in Cold War-era Baltimore at the Occam Aerospace Research Center, which recently received its most sensitive asset ever: an amphibious man captured in the Amazon. What follows is an emotional romance between the asset and one of the janitors at the center, a mute woman who uses sign language to communicate with the sea creature.

Developed from the ground up by visionary storyteller Guillermo del Toro and celebrated author Daniel Kraus, The Shape of Water is not merely a film novelization, nor a film adaptation: they are separate mediums for telling the same engrossing story. The idea was born on an Iowa tennis court when Kraus was just 15-years-old. Nearly three decades later, he vividly remembers coming up with a story about a creature locked in a lab and a janitor that tries to break it out. The idea played out in his mind for years, and came to life years later as an already successful author after having breakfast with del Toro in Toronto.

The Shape of Water novel publishes today, and beloved narrator Jenna Lamia makes the story even more mesmerizing through audio. Read more and sample the audio.

STAFF PICK: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Narrators: Jenna Lamia, Cassandra Campbell, Bahni Turpin, and Octavia Spencer

Hey audiobook lovers! I must share my latest listen with you all. I just finished The Help, which I finally downloaded thanks to my sister’s recommendation. It had been idling on my wishlist before that nudge I needed to start. The novel follows three ladies in Mississippi during the 1960’s as they embark on a risky plan to have the voices of colored maids heard. The book is set during the time of segregation in the US, and we are reminded of how much progress has been made, as well as how much has stayed stagnant. Secrets and motivations of the characters are revealed as the book unravels and it truly was hard to stop listening. I loved the three main characters; they were well developed and layered with wit, sass and smarts. 

I loved it even more as an audiobook. The narrators portray each character’s accent, background and personality to a tee. Minny, my favorite character is bold and hot-headed, and her volatile, no-nonsense attitude spills through your ears. This contrasts Aibileen, the other maid in the tale who makes decisions with level-headed calculation. The third main character, Skeeter, is a white lady from the town who uses what advantages and smarts she has to give a voice to the other ladies. Whether you’re determined with Aibileen or tense and worked-up with Minny, the narrators keep you submerged in the story. By the end of the book I was sad to see them go, but very satisfied by a good listen.

The Help is similarly adored by our listeners, with 4.5 stars for the story and a 5-star narration. If you’ve been looking for a new story to dive into, please give this one a listen and let me know what you think!