I do book round-ups fairly regularly on the blog, but I’ve never done a similar audiobook round-up before. The main reason is that “reading” a round-up’s worth of audiobooks requires many more hours than reading the same books on paper, or my Kindle.
Case in point: this collection of five audiobooks I completed plus one I abandoned after the first hour tally 98 hours of listening time. I didn’t spend quite that long: I typically bump my audiobooks up to 1.25 speed after the first hour, which means the time I spent tallied … er, less than that. Slightly. But not much.
I downloaded Americanah on December 31 and abandoned the final book last week. Here are my mini-reviews after nearly three months of listening:
by Betty Smith, performed by Katie Burton
I finally read this book as a book my mom loves for the reading challenge. I loved this audio version: Burton brings the story to life with her wonderful voice and authentic (but thankfully limited) accents. Expect a few weird jazzy interludes. My only regret is that I waited so long to read it. A heartbreaking and beautiful coming of age story. 14 hrs and 55 mins.
by Tana French, performed by Tim Gerard Reynolds
This was the last Dublin Murder Squad mystery on my TBR list. I was reluctant to try the audio: her books can be violent, and it’s easier to skip those with a hardback. Several of you assured me it wasn’t as bad as I feared, and you were right (though I did fast forward through a few scenes). I loved Reynolds’ narration for its perfect pacing and flawless accent. Definitely one of my favorite French novels. (Note: each book stands alone.) 16 hrs and 17 mins.
by Jennifer Worth, performed by Nicola Barber
Worth wrote her memoir in response to a challenge: could someone do for midwifery what James Herriot did for vets? Her loving, detailed account of life in the East End slums of 1950s London is full of high drama: births and deaths, rickets and eclampsia, the workhouse and prostitution. Some of these stories are very hard to listen to (and never with kids in the car!), but they are uniformly good. Can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy. 12 hrs and 2 mins.
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, performed by Adjoa Andoh
Friends raved to me about this book, but the description didn’t grab me. I bought it on a whim thanks to an Audible 2-for-1 sale and was hooked from page 1 (or whatever the audio equivalent is!). A rich, layered novel that works on many levels. This was great to do on audio: I never doubted my pronunciation of Nigerian names and places—something that makes me batty with a hardback. (I do share my reservations here.) 17 hrs and 28 mins.
by George Eliot, performed by Juliet Stevenson
This is a book I’ve been meaning to read forever: an Audible sale encouraged me to read it now. While it’s loooong, I’m so glad I read it (and not just because now I can see how many literary references I’ve been missing out on.) Juliet Stevenson was wonderful: now I understand all the reviews that say I will listen to anything she reads. (While it’s available as a Whispersync deal on Amazon—and for just $2.99!—that version is performed by Kate Reading.) 35 hrs and 40 mins.
by Neil Gaiman, performed by the author
I’d heard that Neil Gaiman’s readings of his own books were simply wonderful, and I’ll admit I chose Stardust as my starting point because I loved the movie—despite the fact that I’d heard this was one instance where the movie is better than the book. One hour in, I’m abandoning the audiobook, despite the wonderful performance. The story just isn’t grabbing me. Also: now that I’ve listened to one hour of Stardust, I’m shocked that this is recommended as a children’s audiobook. 6 hrs and 27 mins.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books, and on the books YOU have been listening to lately. I converted to an annual plan on Audible so I have 16 credits waiting to be used—I need your suggestions!
P.S. All links go to Audible, where you can listen to a sample of the audiobook before buying. If you’re new to audiobooks, check out my (great big) beginner’s guide.