Lauren Kage | Reviewer of the Year 2023

I always open Lauren’s reviews with great expectation, as I know I’m in for a treat.

I always open Lauren’s reviews with great expectation, as I know I’m in for a treat. Although Lauren reads widely, she shines when discussing literary sci-fi and narrative nonfiction. Whether her reviews are glowing, questioning, or critical, they are unfailingly thoughtful and nuanced. Lauren clearly loves the intricacies and surprises of language and communicates that love in every review she writes, offering phrases that highlight the audio experience and get to the heart of the book. Lauren is a youth engagement specialist at Shaw House in Bangor, ME.

‘‘Rebecca Lowman’s narration is precise, accurate, and highly attuned to fluctuations in genre and tone, fitting the text like a glove…. This expertly narrated, forceful debut is mandatory listening for armchair historians and economists alike." From Lauren’s review of Sofi Thanhauser’s Worn, narrated by Rebecca Lowman

When did you start reviewing for LJ?

I submitted my first review in December 2021, and I’ve panicked over every editorial deadline since!

What are your favorite kinds of books to review?

I love to review audiobooks that I know I would be unlikely to pick up in print, usually because of longstanding genre preferences. Though reviewing hasn’t changed the majority of my habits when reading for pleasure, I’ve grown more comfortable reading and recommending eclectically.

What do you find most rewarding about the reviewing process?

Of course, I most like the critical- listening part of the process, but actually writing the review presents an opportunity to call attention to an audiobook’s strengths. Widely sharing a positive opinion, even more than a critique, [feels like a] privilege.

What are three books that you’ve enjoyed reviewing for LJ?

I was familiar with Shirley Jackson’s psychological horror, but her range as a writer and humorist in Raising Demons was an unexpected delight. The fantastic dual narrators and careful balance of catastrophism and absurdism in Ned Beauman’s Venomous Lumpsucker made that one of my favorite science-fiction listens last year. Sofi Thanhauser’s Worn: A People’s History of Clothing challenged me to find the right words of praise for something so good and so discomfiting. I chose Worn out of many excellent, unsettling works of narrative nonfiction I’ve gotten to review because my clothes-purchasing remains affected long after listening.

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