Six of My Favorite Audio Books
Incorporating audio books into my regular reading routine became a thing for me about three years ago. My commute is fairly long, and while I am an avid podcast listener, I enjoy rotating those with audio books on a regular basis. I had an Audible subscription for a brief four months this year, but ended up cancelling it and going back to my local library’s (free) collection, which is easily accessed through the OverDrive app. The library gives me the luxury of risk free sampling. An audio book is a delicate thing – it needs both a well written story that is structured for a non visual format AND the right narrator. I have come across many books that were an absolute delight to read, but were virtually unbearable in audio format. Likewise, there are books that come to life when narrated. And anything too complicated with too many characters might make for a delightful visual read, but is far too hard to follow in audio format.
1. Year of Yes: How to Dance, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person – This is the kind of book that may be enjoyable in print format, but absolutely comes to life when read by author Shonda Rhimes. This could also be the kind of book that could easily be annoying, or potentially downright tone deaf in less deft hands. There are few self help books written by someone with the stature and wealth of Rhimes that are down to earth, but this is one of them. The thing that keeps this book from bleeding into eye roll territory is that Rhimes is consistently cognizant of the fact that her wealth is a privilege that most of the people she’s talking to don’t have. This book is funny and uplifting and perfect for a vacation road trip or commuting.
2. Kill the Boy Band – This book is the story of a group of friends who are teenage super fans who accidentally kidnap a member of their favorite boy band. Part popular culture satire and part YA novel, this audio book is a very fun listen. Barrett Wilbur Reed captures the perfect teen girl ethos in her narration, which only adds to the book’s fun.
3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicle of Narnia – This is a classic that many of us have probably read at least once, if not multiple, times but Michael York brings it to life in this audio version. If full on old school radio style performances are more your style, the BBC has a really great one that they produced in 2005, although it is an abridged version.
4. Harry Potter Series – This is another classic series that many of us have probably read at least once, but the audio versions of each book are wonderful and perfect for long road trips. Jim Dale does the narration for the entire series and he does a great job of bringing the stories to life.
5. Bad Monkey – I am a huge Carl Hiassen fan and this is my favorite of all of his books. While his other books are ok in audio format, this one is actually better. Arte Johnson has the perfect voice for bringing crusty, but lovable main character Andrew Yancy to life. It’s hard to come up with an accurate description for Hiassen’s books, but if I had to, I would say that Carl Hiassen is what Dave Barry would be if Dave Barry wrote mystery novels. All of Hiassen’s books are part satire, part political commentary, and party mystery. They are often hilarious with intricately woven plots and really amazing characters. I think he’s one of the U.S.’s most underrated contemporary writers.
6. Paris: A Love Story – I was conflicted about whether or not I should put this one on the list. Paris is written by journalist Kati Marton and details her long relationship with, well, Paris. It also covers her career and love life, which includes marriages to both Peter Jennings and ambassador Richard Holbrook. It is, essentially, a memoir about love and loss with Paris as the epicenter of it all. I am not sure that I would have loved this book as much if I had read it in its print version, but read aloud by Kathe Mazur the book becomes beautiful. The reason that I was conflicted about putting it on this list is not because I didn’t love it – I did – but because I do have some criticisms of it. Marton glosses over an affair and several other difficult events that I would have loved to have known more about, but ultimately this is a memoir about love and Marton is entitled to lay out events as she would like to recount them. Has anyone else read this book and had similar thoughts? Or not so similar thoughts?
**None of the links included in this post are affiliate links and I am not sponsored by Audible or Amazon. I chose to link exclusively to the Audible site because it’s a popular one that lots of people from multiple counties have access to.