The 5 Audiobooks You Need to Listen To

Audiobooks are a fairly controversial topic in the world of books, possibly even as controversial as the raging debate over physical and ebooks. (You may think that I’m being dramatic, but these are big issues that companies pour far too much money into promoting one side or the other.) Many people see listening to audiobooks as “cheating”, that if you keep track of the books you read for a yearly challenge or countdown, that it doesn’t “count” because you didn’t read it with your eyes. It’s okay if you are hearing impaired, otherwise it’s reading the traditional way or nothing. Well, I’m hear to say (pun INTENDED) that taking a book in through any venue is a worthwhile pursuit and good for your soul. These are my five favourite audiobooks that I think that everyone should listen to, and I hope you will give them a chance!

5 Audiobooks

Audiobooks allow you to follow a story when you otherwise may not be able to. It may be that you cannot read because of visual impairment, it may be that you spend a great deal of your time driving or doing something with your hands that don’t allow you to hold a book, it may be that you just prefer to listen to someone narrate rather than read with your eyes. In any case, it can be a new and fun way to get to know a new story!

Bossypants, Tina Fey, Biography

Bossypants, Tina Fey

Celebrity memoirs are a dime a dozen nowadays, and while I fully admit to reading most of them, I do recognise that most of them are pretty light on the actual reading. Bossypants was released in 2011, fairly earlier in the trend of comedic celebrity memoirs. It has a good deal more “meat” to it than most other books in the genre, and takes you into Tina’s glamorous life while simultaneously reminding you that she spent her hours working entry level jobs when she was your age and that she has to chase after a tyrant two year old like all parents inevitably do. Tina narrates the book herself, and it gives you a good insight into who she is. It is funny and touching and relate-able, and is well worth the five and a half hours of listening! Also great to listen to with other people.

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Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch

The Rivers of London series is a fantastic urban fantasy series that has a little bit of everything- I’ve recommended this to six radically different readers, and everyone has loved it. Peter Grant, PC of the Met in London, finds himself working in a little known division of the Met that handles any and all supernatural cases. London being London and all, there is no shortage of ghosts, warlocks, and magical beings to add chaos and mystery into life. Ben Aaronovitch has created an incredibly likeable character in Peter, and you will want to hang out with him even though he is obviously not a real person… Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is an amazing narrator who fits the series to a tee- he is casual without being flippant, and makes you want to keep listening! Perfect for anyone who likes fantasy, mystery, or even just good fiction.

Notorious RBG

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Irin Carmon

Ahhh, Ruth Bader Ginsburg- an amazing women not overly known outside of the United States. Bader Ginsburg is a member of the Supreme Court of the United States, and has been serving as an Associate Justice for almost twenty five years now. I know, you’re asking, a judge? Big deal. Wellllll, turns out that RBG has had a pretty incredible life! She started law school after getting married and having a child, and still tied for top of her class at graduation, taught at Rutgers University, and led the Women’s Rights Project for the American Civil Liberties Union. She was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1980 and the Supreme Court in 1993. She’s currently 84 and still serving as a judge, is more physically active than most people a quarter of her age, and has beat both pancreatic and colon cancer. Notorious RBG is a fantastic look into her life and everything she has accomplished so far, and does a great job of showing how a staunchly Democratic judge interacts and works with her Republican peers (I think that’s important at this point in time). A good listen for anyone interested in biography, the law, or women’s rights!

Where'd Ya Go, Bernadette? Maria Semple, Fiction

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Maria Semple

I’ll admit to being biased a little bit in the case of Where’d Ya Go, Bernadette? It takes place in Seattle, and there is something about knowing exactly where everything is happening that makes everything that much more interesting. Bernadette doesn’t get out much (due to her agoraphobia), so she hires a virtual assistant to help with day to day tasks. This is includes booking a vacation to the Antarctic as a reward for her teenage daughter’s work in school. Although there are some mishaps, life is continuing on as normal, until it’s not- Bernadette is gone without a trace! Semple balances a funny and interesting story with a cast of characters that still have a weight and gravity that make you feel every little thing along with them. Gilmore Girls fans will recognise the narrator of this book- Kathleen Wilhoite, aka, Liz, brings Where’d Ya Go, Bernadette to life! This is the book for anyone who likes epistolary novels, or anything that is character and plot driven.

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The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett

The Uncommon Reader is quite a short read/listen- at only 120 pages and two and a half hours long, it’s easily taken in in one sitting. Her Majesty the Queen is traipsing after her Corgis on the grounds of Buck House when she discovers a small travelling library, and the joy that comes with books. Although all of the people working in the palace aren’t too fond of Her Majesty’s new past time- who knows what thoughts a book might put in your head??- a newer member of the kitchen staff helps her to discover countless new authors and books. Even as a Royalist, I think that a lot of us forget how little choice her majesty really has in a lot of her life- it’s lovely to imagine a world where she is given even a little bit of an escape. Read by the author himself, Alan Bennett has done a wonderful job at creating a cozy world that just maybe pushes the boundaries! You have to listen to The Uncommon Reader if you like the Queen, corgis, or books- no excuses.

So, what are your favourite audiobooks? What should I be listening to? 

Until tomorrow,
The Historian!

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22 thoughts on “The 5 Audiobooks You Need to Listen To

  1. Lorna August 23, 2017 / 4:35 am

    I’ve read Bossy Pants, Rivers of London, and Bernadette. My favourite audiobooks have been: Yes, Please!, Amy Poehler, As You Wish, Cary Elwes (and most of TPB cast, Born A Crime, Trevor Noah, Still Foolin’ ‘Em, Billy Crystal, and Faith, Jennifer Haigh.

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    • anhistorianabouttown August 23, 2017 / 8:13 am

      Yes, Please! and As You Wish are also amaaaazing audiobooks- I’m finding that I now prefer memoirs as an audiobook. There is something about hearing someone’s story in their voice that makes it that much more meaningful, and fun! I’m on the waiting list for Still Foolin’ Em 😁😁

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  2. Kelsey August 23, 2017 / 6:02 am

    These are great recommendations! I loved reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants and I can only imagine how great it is with her narration. Anna Kendrick narrated her book Scrappy Little Nobody, and I think the way she tells the stories adds so much more to the experience. I only recently hopped on the audiobook train, and I was a little surprised by how much I enjoy listening to books. It’s a whole different experience (especially when the narrator is extraordinary) and while I still prefer reading a hard copy myself, I’ll definitely be listening to more aduiobooks.

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    • anhistorianabouttown August 23, 2017 / 8:08 am

      I’ve listened to Yes, Please, I Don’t Know What You Know Me From, and both of Mindy Kaling’s books- I’ve been on the hunt for Scrappy Little Nobody as an audiobook to borrow!! I find that it makes such a difference with memoirs.
      I do love reading a book the traditional way but with quite a bit of commuting, and 60-90 minutes of exercise a day, I like being able to fit in the extra books 😀

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  3. SickChristine August 23, 2017 / 7:00 am

    Bossypants is hands down one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I can see how Fey narrating it would make it even better. I really want to check out the RBG book. I love her!

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    • anhistorianabouttown August 25, 2017 / 11:21 pm

      Tina is just amazing to listen to- I’ve listened to Bossypants probably upwards of 15 times now, I’m still in tears laughing 😂😶 RBG is so damn inspiring, I had no idea who she was!!

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  4. gigglingfattie August 23, 2017 / 8:43 am

    I haven’t gone over into the audiobook side of things yet! But I just might try it out. I love to do hand crafts like knitting or cross stitch and it would be much better to listen to a book while doing it instead of trying to watch netflix and my hands at the same time lol

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  5. Becca Barracuda August 23, 2017 / 9:54 am

    Bossypants has been on my TBR list for ages. Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about taking up audio books as I’m starting a new job with a longer commute!

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    • anhistorianabouttown August 25, 2017 / 11:22 pm

      Audiobooks are the ANSWER to commutes- the radio gets old FAST. And i find that I actually look forward to the drive if it’s a good book!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hannah August 23, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    I’ve been thinking about reading “The Rivers of London” for a long time, because someone recommended it to me. But the more I read the blurb and more about it the less sure I am whether I’ll like it!

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    • anhistorianabouttown August 25, 2017 / 11:24 pm

      What I love about it is that it doesn’t firmly commit to one genre or another! It’s also a fast read- if it’s not your cuppa, I would just cut off the series ☺

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  7. carolineschroniclesblog August 23, 2017 / 2:37 pm

    I’ve read Rivers of London & Where’d You Go Bernadette and loved both of them. I don’t know if you have access to BBC radio at all? I love the books they serialise, usually Book of the Week or Book at Bedtime. I’ve listened to Rachel Joyce’s The Music Shop this afternoon & absolutely loved it, the ending is a proper tear-jerker!

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    • anhistorianabouttown August 25, 2017 / 11:25 pm

      Ooo, I think I can stream it online! Is there a specific book I should start with?? And The Music Shop is now on my to-read list 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • carolineschroniclesblog August 27, 2017 / 8:58 am

        No particular book. Next week’s (from 28th Aug) books are Book Of The Week – How Not to be a Boy (Robert Webb’s autobiog), Book at Bedtime – Afterword by Anthony Doerr. They only stay on BBC iplayer for a month or so after broadcast. I usually have them on while I’m pottering about at home. The downside is that they are abridged – but free books! Hope you find something you like. x

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  8. Susie August 23, 2017 / 5:30 pm

    I love a good audiobook! Some books are even better on audio than reading. I listened to both new Ann Patchett books (State of Wonder and Commonwealth) on audio and loved them. Thanks for your recommendations, can never have enough 🙂

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    • anhistorianabouttown August 25, 2017 / 11:29 pm

      Ooo, I’m now on the waiting list for both of these from the library! I’m totally new to Ann Patchett, so I’m excited to try a new author 😍 Should I start with one over the other??

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      • Susie August 26, 2017 / 12:16 am

        Oh I love Ann Patchett! My all time favorite may be her older book, Run; Bel Canto is her best-known book. Of the two new ones, State of Wonder is best for audio because there are fewer characters. I hope you enjoy her books as much as I do!

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  9. stephieann8 August 25, 2017 / 11:30 am

    I have no problem with audiobooks and this is coming from a librarian! It is like you said, anyway you can absurd a story is a-ok with me. With that said I have really gotten into audiobooks as entertainment on my commute. I got tired of listening to the same songs on the radio. I started off with the Harry Potter series and the narrator is AMAZING! I read the books and seen the movies but it didn’t make a difference I enjoyed it all the same on a different level! The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was a nice 4 hour time filler with an enjoyable story. Miss Peregrines home for Peculiar Children was also pretty good although the movie was upsetting. Another book I enjoy was Team of Rivals by Debbie Goodwin. The narrator made this history enjoyable! I have tried history audiobooks and failed to finish them because the narrator is too droll. I have already placed my orders for the RBG, Where’d You Go, and Bossypant. I am soooo upset I can’t find Rivers of London audiobook at my library branches but I will read the books because that sounds right up my alley! Keep those recommendations coming!

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    • anhistorianabouttown August 26, 2017 / 8:41 am

      I’ve listened to both the Jim Dale and Stephen Fry Harry Potter audiobooks, and both are amazing!! (I may have done a side by side listen of book one and then the other book one, and so on…) I did also love the Chronicles of Narnia- we made it through all of those on our way to and from Banff 🙂 It is suuuuuper touch and go for me with any sort of history related audiobook- it’s probably because it is my field, but I can be V. picky. I’ve now tried listening to three of Erik Larson’s books, and I just can’t do it. No connection for me at all!!! The Rivers of London audiobook is pretty great, but it’s also super fun to read! (I’ve read and listened probably 5-6 times through now, and I’ve loved both ways.) I read the first Miss Peculiar but not the others- time to track down the audiobooks!!

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