I’m not entirely sure what happened: I don’t think I’ve been walking more, or folding more laundry, or doing any of the other tasks I tend to pair with audiobook listening. What I do know is I’ve been listening to A TON of audiobooks this season—and so many of them have been so good! Because so many readers are always on the hunt for not just good reads but good listens, I thought it would be fun to share an assortment of what I’ve been enjoying lately in that format.
When it comes to a great listening experience, I’m looking for a great story, well told. I personally prefer fiction on audio (though I’m currently listening to Bill Bryson’s The Body: A Guide for Occupants). I love lush descriptions and atmospheric settings, and a fast-moving plot is a plus (though not a requirement) in this format. And I prefer my audiobooks to be on the short side: 7-10 hours is my sweet spot, though one of my recent listens was nearly 18 hours!
One of our winter book selections for the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club! Last year, I loved listening to Stradal's second novel, The Lager Queen of Minnesota, so I thought I'd enjoy his debut in this audio format, too, as narrated by Amy Ryan and Michael Stuhlbarg. Please, I beg you, don’t read the jacket copy! I enjoyed it more by not knowing very much going into it. Stradal’s novel-in-stories spans more than thirty years and takes us to half as many kitchens, introducing us to fancy chefs and Lutheran church ladies, portraying the food of a region and the unlikely threads that bind us, with a satisfying, full-circle ending. More info →
Described as "Outlander meets Camelot," this fantasy novel works really well on audio. I appreciated hearing the pronunciation of the Ancient Scottish names and places, as read by Toni Frutin. The "lost queen" is Languoreth, a real sixth century Scottish queen whose twin brother inspired the legend of Merlin. The setting and tone made for a moody and escapist fall reading experience. Ancient magic, complex politics, and clashing religions all conspire to create an intriguing story. Reminiscent of the Arthurian legends, this book is perfect for fans of Phillippa Gregory. More info →
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my tendency to reread via audiobooks on the blog before. This is the perfect example. I read it on paper first, but when it came time to prep for our MMD Book Club conversation with Elizabeth Acevedo, I wanted to listen to her read me the story. Liz dedicates this novel in verse to the memory of the lives lost on American Airlines flight 587, the passenger flight that crashed en route to Santo Domingo from JFK on November 12, 2001. Taking this historical event as her leaping off point, she tells the story of two teenage girls—one in New York, one in Santo Domingo—who are shocked to discover they are sisters in the aftermath of the crash, when the truth of their father’s double life was unceremoniously revealed. The girls tentatively bond as they explore the pain—and love—they share. More info →
This one also makes an appearance on WSIRN Ep 256: The perks and pitfalls of omnivorous reading. The Binti trilogy, winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, sat on my To Be Read list for too long before I finally listened to the audiobook edition by widely-loved narrator Robin Miles. This novella drops you right into another galaxy where Binti is the first of her people to receive an offer to attend Oomza University, basically an ivy league college. Accepting the offer requires a huge sacrifice and a treacherous journey. I sped through this quick audiobook thanks to excellent narration and a propulsive plot. More info →
After retuning this book to the library, unread, a reading friend told me it was fabulous on audio, so I downloaded it in that format instead. This reflective and often pained retrospective examines a complex mother-daughter relationship. Daughter Norah's musings are prompted by a graduate student who comes calling, seeking insight into the life of her mother, the brilliant Irish actress Katherine O'Dell. The style is almost—but not quite—stream of consciousness, as Norah examines her mother's early years as an actress, her sudden and enduring fame, and then her encroaching mental illness. I loved this book for its voice: Norah is a remarkable narrator of her mother's story, and I loved the sly way she lets her own story slip into the frame. Anne Enright is equally remarkable: very few novelists narrate their own audiobooks, but Enright reads hers here in an incredible performance. More info →
I loved the premise of this brand-new psychological thriller: on a dark and stormy night, a guilt-ridden mother walks away from her life, five years to the day after her youngest child was killed in a tragic accident. Two days after she disappears, police find Molly's handwritten note in a local motel: it says the pain is too much to bear, her family will be better off without her, she's leaving. "Don't look for me," she writes. The police call it a walk-away, saying it happens all the time. But Molly's daughter is suspicious and begins her own investigation into her mother's disappearance. Fan favorite narrator Therese Plummer reads. More info →
Miller is a prolific writer, but this was my first time reading her work. It's a sad, wistful, reflective literary story about marriage, happiness, and family. Graham and Annie have a strong 30 year marriage. Graham owns a bookstore, and this is a fun thread throughout the novel because much of the couples' life revolves around bookstore events (they met at an author event!). Early in the book—this is not a spoiler—Graham suddenly dies. This prompts Annie to reflect on their life together, and in the process she trips over new information about him and their life together, causing her to question the very foundations of their relationship. Read by the author. More info →
This was my first time listening to a Penny Reid book, but I've read a bunch of her sweet and funny romance novels. Over the last few months, Reid's books have been go-to comfort reading. I really liked this Knitting in the City series installment that centers on journalist Marie Harris, who swears off dating after a disastrous first date. But then things do NOT go as planned, setting Marie down a path that's personally and professionally rewarding—until she reaches the crisis point. Marie is a delightful, relatable protagonist, and I couldn't stop listening to her story, breezing through it in a ridiculously short span of time. Heads up for some open-door moments. Random note: I loved Joy Nash's narration, but she repeatedly pronounced just one word in a way that sounded funny to my ear. Has this ever happened to you? (The word was "glower," which the narrator pronounced to rhyme with "mower." I checked Merriam Webster, and technically it's a correct-but-unusual pronunciation; it didn't ruin the book for me by any means, but it was distracting.) More info →
I recently recommended this eerily prescient pandemic novel about a coronavirus pandemic (really) to Cliff in WSIRN Ep 256: The perks and pitfalls of omnivorous reading. I enjoyed it on audio and would love to own a print copy, but for mysterious reasons, the U.S. publication date on this book is now on hold. It is available for Canadian readers (or readers willing to pay international shipping). I avoided all pandemic-related books for a while, but this story of resilience and hope struck just the right notes for me. Narrated by a full cast including Alex Payton-Beesley, Amelia Sargisson, and more. More info →
A fresh, fun, and flirty new romance novel about a soap opera star and a telenovela hunk who are both trying to catch their big break with their brand new bilingual TV show. Jasmine and her sisters come up with some rules to guide her on the path to success, calling it the "Leading Lady Plan." One principle: "leading ladies do not rebound with their co-stars." This shouldn't be difficult. Ashton is banking on this new series to make his career, too. He's perfectly professional...but of course, despite their reluctance to let romance get in the way of their dreams, these two can't deny their chemistry. Heads up for a few spicy scenes and open door moments. Narrated by Seraphine Valentine. More info →
A brand new mystery from author of The Perfect Mother . This twisty domestic thriller made me stop in several places and go “wait, what?” Molloy skillfully shifts the point of view, making you question all the assumptions you had about what was happening in the story. We meet the main characters, Sam and Annie, as newlyweds moving to upstate New York. Sam is a therapist who practices from home, where Annie happens to overhear just about every session. When a mysterious French girl shows up, the happy couple's blissful future takes a turn. I especially enjoyed the frequent West Wing references (that's my quarantine show of choice), plus a strong connection to Misery by Stephen King. The audiobook features multiple narrators, including George Newbern and Marin Ireland. (Funny story: at first I thought one of the voice actors was cast ALL WRONG for the character ... but I changed my mind as I kept listening.) More info →
This fun mystery reminded me so much of Angela Lansbury and Murder She Wrote, and holds appeal for readers aged 18 to 80-something and beyond. Plus, it looks like the first in what will be a series! It's set in a retirement community, where four friends meet in the Jigsaw Room every week to chat about unsolved crimes. This group of 70-somethings call themselves "The Thursday Murder Club." When bodies start piling up in a live and local case, they set out to catch a killer. Completely charming, and so well-narrated by Lesley Manville. Bonus points for Britishisms and a lovely accent to listen to. More info →
What have you been listening to lately?Fill up our audiobook TBR lists in the comments.