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!
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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?