Audiobooks are a relatively new joy in this bookworm’s life, but let me tell you – I am hooked! I listen to them while cleaning, cooking, working, running, gym-ing, on my commute and while I get ready for the day. Not usually all in the same day… but that depends on the book! And that brings me to the list I want to share with you: my favorite and most highly recommended audiobooks (so far).
But first, have you heard of Libro.fm yet? There are many ways to listen to audiobooks: of course you can go to your bookstore or library and buy/rent the cd set, I also noticed that my library system is renting out listening devices for digital copies as well, but with a smart phone in most of our lives and bluetooth capability in most of our cars and devices audiobooks are easier to keep listening to than ever before! There are more than a few apps and subscriptions that allow you to purchase digital copies of audiobooks to download and own, but Libro.fm is a service that allows you to buy or subscribe to audiobooks and still allow the proceeds to benefit your favorite independent bookseller – win/win!
Libro.fm approached me and asked if I would be interested in putting together a playlist of my favorite audiobooks and of course I said yes, so without further ado here is a list of my favorite audiobooks (so far):
~Sigh~ Fates and Furies was the first audiobook that hypnotized me and I mostly blame that on the narration by Julia Whelan and Will Damron who immediately shot to the top of my list of favorite narrators and have stayed there. Both of their voices are like butter! Fates and Furies is the love story of Lotto and Mathilde, told in 2 parts from the 2 perspectives that exist in any marriage, and as usual one has to believe that the truth lies somewhere in between. I’ll warn you, neither of these characters is especially likable and this is a pretty lengthy novel, which I know can be a struggle for some readers, but the narration alone kept me hooked on this winding character driven novel and made me a lifelong fan of Lauren Groff, Julia Whelan and Will Damron.
Popularized by the recent Netflix series, I listened to You a couple of years ago and I can STILL hear Joe’s voice in my head. Hailed as a “a brilliant and terrifying novel for the social media age” You is the very disturbing story of Joe, a charismatic young bookseller and his obsession with Beck, a girl who just happens to wander in to his book store one day. Again, the narration of this one is everything and the best part? There’s more! I plan to listen to Hidden Bodies, the sequel of You, again featuring Joe and again narrated by Santino Fontana just as soon as I’m ready to be thoroughly creeped out once more.
Jess is a young, single New Yorker, just trying to get by in the big city and help support her family when a split second decision to join a psychology study led by the mysterious Dr. Lydia Shields may just change her life forever, but will it be changed for the better or worse? Told through alternating narrations it quickly becomes clear this isn’t a normal study, and Jess isn’t a normal subject. While one of the narrators of An Anonymous Girl is Julia Whelan, a huge favorite of mine, who did a phenomenal job with her narration of Jess, the thing that makes this one a Must Listen in my opinion is the entirely unsettling and perfectly performed narration of Dr. Lydia Shields by Barrie Kreinik. As both sides of the story unfold you will find yourself wishing you could race through to the end and simultaneously make the experience last longer. An Anonymous Girl is for fans of an expertly executed story with an unreliable narrator.
Oh my heart! I had (still have!) such a huge (audio)book hangover from this one and I’m not sorry about it! The Great Alone was a marathon, not a sprint… and I’m talking emotionally more than anything else. While it is a fairly long, lengthy story it isn’t the longest listen for me, not by a long shot, but it just felt so vast at times. Set in the 70’s, this is a story of a family of 3 who heads to the Alaska wilderness vastly unprepared for what it truly means to survive and homestead in one of the world’s harshest landscapes. I don’t recommend starting The Great Alone until you have a little time to devote to it – but trust me, it’s worth it. This book chewed me up and spit me out, and I will never be the same; Leni will forever be a voice in my head, and for that I am a stronger and a more well rounded person. Julia Whelan’s narration is so spot on, the voice of Leni was was meant for her! All the stars!
Popularized by HBO’s star studded series including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz, Big Little Lies is a gripping neighborhood drama with some badass female heroines and some twists and turns that will keep you hooked and on the edge of your seat until the end! While I definitely felt like the HBO series did this book justice, (and I am eagerly awaiting season 2!) it is set in Monterey, CA and I think Caroline Lee’s narration of the audio version of this one does a great job of taking this story back to its Australian roots. Lee does have an Australian accent which I found to be very atmospheric – she narrates quite a few of Moriarty’s books and I have yet to find one that I didn’t enjoy!
This is still my favorite King! (so far) If you’ve ever seen this book in person you know: It. Is. A. Brick at 849 pages or 30 hrs 39 mins for the audio version. Why I decided to tackle it as one of my first King novels I’ll never know, but my determination to finish this one is part of what led me tot seek out audiobooks and for that I am grateful. Since then there has been a Hulu miniseries released under the same name starring James Franco, which I enjoyed but I am here to tell you – the book is so much more! Seriously, there is so much to this story that just couldn’t be captured in a limited series. A unique blend between historical fiction, time travel (sci-fi?) and a love story to boot, this one is for anyone and everyone who is willing to go along for the ride.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, narrated by John C. Reilly
I’m being specific about the narration on this one because there are many, many versions to sort through but John C. Reilly absolutely brings these characters to life and I cannot imagine anyone else pulling it off any better! One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is most widely known for the film adaptation by the same name starring Jack Nicholson that won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1976, but I urge you, even if you’ve seen the movie way back when or still remember it as required reading in high school, give this audiobook a chance! The book itself differs from the movie because it is narrated by Chief, the quietest resident on the floor, and through his eyes we get a back story and intimate observations of all of the residents involved that couldn’t be told any other way.
Also – I hear there is a new Netflix series in the works called Ratched, an origins story of Cuckoo’s Nest’s notorious Nurse Ratched set to star Sarah Paulson and I for one could not be more pumped!
I’m a huge SNL and Parks and Rec fan so I couldn’t resist listening to Amy Poehler’s memoir when I found out she narrated it herself. With a barrage of cameos, this one is just so much fun with a good peek into the dues Amy Poehler has paid to get where she is and the way she has helped shape the future of comedy, for women specifically. Not sure I would recommend Yes Please if you aren’t already an Amy Poehler fan, but if you are you will not be disappointed!
Also narrated by the author, but mostly for the same audience, Bossypants differs from Yes Please in how deep Fey goes in to her childhood, personal fears and her home and work life. With less cameos, but a healthy dose of girl power and leadership insight as well as a look into the busy life of a working mother. “Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.” The delivery is everything with these 2 funny ladies.
Our “plucky heroine, Hal” has nothing to left to lose and no one in her life, so when a mysterious letter finds its way to her, promising not only an inheritance but a link to a family she’s never known, she assumes she has received the letter by mistake but sees a way to scam a quick pound or two. She uses her last dollar to make her way to the “family” estate. It quickly becomes clear she may be in way over her head and while family may be the thing she longs for, this family may have been the wrong one to scam. While this suspenseful thriller is fun on its own, Imogen Church’s narration as Hal is a can’t miss performance and takes this story to another level. Church narrates most of Ruth Ware’s books and all of them are worth checking out if thrillers are your thing.
My favorite nonfiction book of 2018 by far! Bad Blood is the compiled investigation by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist John Carreyrou, into the rise and fall of Silicon Valley’s Elizabeth Holmes and her meditech startup, Theranos. “A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.” I’ve obsessed healthily about this story and all of the information available (so far) but I’m here to tell you that Bad Blood is the can’t miss source of the most compelling version of this story out there so far, better than the podcast The Dropout and HBO’s special The Inventor, in my opinion. On top of that it is narrated by my aforementioned favorite narrator, Will Damron – a winning combination that makes this a Must Listen.
This is a different genre for me and the only parenting book I’ve completed start to finish; while I wouldn’t call this entertaining or riveting by any means, the word I would use to describe this book is important. Again, narrated by the author (the best way to experience memoirs and nonfiction, in my humble opinion) this book spoke to me. As a mother, this book spoke to me. As a millennial, this book spoke to me. As a member of society, this book spoke to me. I want to hand this book out to all of the parents I know and tell them to read it now. “Kim Brooks’s moving narration is the perfect vehicle for the drama surrounding her arrest for a momentary lapse in judgement…Brooks’s lyrical writing and largely dispassionate narration will draw parents into this larger dynamic and restore their freedom to do what they believe is best as parents.”
I’ve never read any books by Alice Hoffman before, but I am intimately familiar with the movie Practical Magic which, of course, was a book first. The Rules Of Magic is a prequel to Practical Magic – it deals with the generation of Owens’ prior to our beloved Gillian and Sally. The Rules of Magic isn’t really full of action, but is basically a historical fiction/coming of age story of the magical sort featuring Owens siblings Franny, Jet and Vincent. We get to join them through their lifetimes, and the characters were so endearing. The overall theme is love and is at times sad; if you are familiar with Practical Magic you know this family is cursed in the area of love, this story expands much more on that.
The only YA on the list, but for good reason… talk about a book born to be an audiobook! I cannot imagine experiencing this one any other way. Sadie was addicting, haunting and heartbreaking. I’d recommend it to mystery lovers, true crime readers and audiobook or podcast addicts. Sadie is the story of a girl on the run after a lifetime of bad breaks and tragedy, culminating with the murder of her younger sister and the only family she had left. This drives her to hold someone accountable and we start to question the lengths she will go to to avenge her death. The brilliance of Sadie is that the story is told partly as a podcast looking back as Sadie’s neighbors search for her after she leaves home and never returns and partly through the eyes of Sadie during her journey. Told with a cast of 40+ the podcast element of this audiobook is outstanding. While I doubt there is any risk of actually mistaking this for a live story/mystery it was told with perfect pacing and was definitely on par with other fictional serial podcasts (Homecoming and Sandra come to mind).
This one is truly just for Gilmore Girl fans, but as a member of that fandom who was severely lacking some Lauren Graham in her life, I can attest that this one hit the spot! The audio version of this book features Lauren Graham’s narration and is a great way to travel back to Stars Hollow for just a little bit longer. Lauren is the epitome of our beloved Lorelei, and while we get some great insight in to how she earned her stripes and paid her dues in Hollywood and beyond, the true gift of this book was finding out that GG meant as much to Lauren as we hoped it did and that the show was as special as Stars Hollow always seemed to its fans. You get to watch the CW series right along with Lauren (for the first time 🤔); you revisit plot lines, fashion trends and crazy scenes with Lauren in your ear and then mourn the lack of closure we all felt at the show’s end. As we find our way back to Stars Hollow along with Lorelei for A Year In the Life, the Netflix season, you’ll learn to truly appreciate how serendipitous the revival actually was which will probably make you love it that much more. Whether you are Gilmore Girl for life or the show just held a special place in your heart for a small time you will probably love this as a companion and trip down memory lane.
**Swoon** This one is a new addition to the Must Listen list. Just released this March, Daisy Jones and Six is the latest from author Taylor Jenkins Reid, of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo fame (I can, and do, recommend the book- I have yet to listen to the audio version). The beauty of Daisy Jones and the Six is that it is written in interview/documentary script format and has many different characters (band members); set the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll era of the 70’s this one is just begging to be put in to audio form. Couple that with the amazing multi-cast narration including Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer & Pablo Schreiber and you’ve got yourself a can’t miss audio performance! The only complaint I have about this book is that it surrounds music, complete with original song lyrics without the actual songs: the experience would be complete if I could actually hear the songs the book was written about! I can only hope Reese Witherspoon’s adaptation of Daisy Jones will finally bring these songs to life…
The latest and greatest addition to my playlist, an oldie but a goodie: THIS is how true crime should be told! “perhaps the most unnerving true-crime book ever published.” Anne Rule’s unique perspective and relationship to Ted Bundy before and after his murder conviction(s) combines to create the ultimate True Crime storytelling experience. Perfectly paced over decades of events, with such an expert way of tackling such a gruesome case while giving the victims much of the time and attention she gave to the killer. Albeit lengthy, and almost detailed to fault at times, I highly recommend this one if true crime interests you and you haven’t read it yet.
Thank you to Libro.fm for the opportunity to compile and publish this list and working with me to get you all promo codes to make it easier and cheaper for you to discover your new favorite audiobooks!
promo code: READBTW
Do you have any Must Listen audiobook recommendations for me? I’m all ears! (get it?) Please comment below with your recommendations.