About two years ago, I started listening to audiobooks on my commute. It made an unbelievable difference to having to sit in Orange County traffic for two to three hours a day. I’ve never been a car reader – I get carsick – and, obviously, I can’t read when I’m the one driving. But listening to audiobooks makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something in that time, and I don’t feel like I’m wasting a huge chunk of my day. If you have a long commute, I highly recommend trying audiobooks – you can listen to fun stories, learn a new language, hear about historical and contemporary events from all over the world, or explore all different genres of fiction. I’ve listened to quite a few audiobooks over the years, and since I recently started working full time, and therefore listening to more audiobooks again, I thought I’d recommend some of my favorite listens. I also love listening to audiobooks while I knit, paint my nails, or just when I feel like reading, but my eyes need a break.
Audiobooks provide an entirely different experience from reading a book. I find my enjoyment of each audiobook depends, not just on the book itself, but on it’s narrator. I’ve experienced narrators who annoy me so badly I have to turn them off, ones who have a magical ability to put me to sleep within five minutes, and others who transform the story into something completely wonderful and unique. Obviously, the books below fit into the latter category.
The audiobook I am currently enjoying, and the one that inspired this post is Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road, narrated by Debra Winger and Gloria Steinem. This is not a book I would have picked up on my own. But when I heard Emma Watson had started a feminist book club, I had to join, and this was the first pick. I’m only about halfway through, but I absolutely love it! It’s a great listen, and it definitely has given me a lot of things to think about. I highly recommend it!
When I start to an audiobook and fall in love with it, I tend to get a physical copy of the book as well because it’s a bit faster to read, and then I switch back and forth. That’s what I did with The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, narrated by Peter Kenney. This book started off a little slow, but turned into something amazing. And the narration is great! I actually spent an hour driving around aimlessly because I wanted to keep listening to it. So good!
One of the most beautifully narrated audiobooks I’ve ever listened to is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, narrated by Allan Corduner. The book is told from the perspective of death, and the narration is just so perfectly haunting! If you haven’t read this book yet, or if you’re thinking about rereading it, you should definitely give the audiobook a shot!
Speaking of perfect narrators, I absolutely love with authors read their own books. Neil Gaiman actually reads most of the audiobooks for most of his books, and he does an incredible job. I’ve listened to Stardust, The Graveyard Book, Coraline, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Neverwhere. All of them are amazing (though Neverwhere is my favorite). And, though it’s technically not an audiobook, if you enjoyed Neverwhere, check out the BBC radio full-cast version – it’s perfect!
Some other books I think have great narrators are The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais, narrated by Neil Shah; Yes Please by Amy Poehler, narrated by Amy Poehler and a bunch of other awesome people; I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, narrated by Archie Panjabi; and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, narrated by Ari Fliakos.
And, finally, my favorite audiobook series is the Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown, narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds. I love the books, and have read them multiple times, in both hard copy and audiobook form. I am so excited that Reynolds is doing the final book in the series, because he does such a great job!
I’m sure I will have more favorites soon (maybe I’ll do an updated post in a few months), but these are the best I’ve listened two in the last couple of years. I get all of my audiobooks on Audible – if you listen to a lot of them, I highly recommend it.
If you have any audiobook recommendations, I would love to hear them!