I’ve been a committed audiobook listener for about five years now, and am always on the hunt for audiobooks that deliver a truly excellent reading experience.
Thanks to some solo road trips and a few household projects, I’ve been listening to audiobooks at a faster-than-usual clip this spring and summer. Today I’m sharing six of my recent favorites. As you see, they vary widely in genre and content, but hold one important thing in common: they were terrific on audio. (As always, please read the details before adding them to your queue!)
Have you listened to anything great lately? I only have two hours to go on my current listen, so please share in comments!
In her bestselling memoir, Tara Westover tells of how she overcame her oppressive childhood: her survivalist family lived in the mountains of rural Idaho and practiced extreme fundamentalist Mormonism; her father's manic depression was undiagnosed and untreated. There was no question that Tara would marry and settle near her family to raise a family of her own, but she found a way out. This is her story of how. Ruth Wariner's The Sound of Gravel is a read-alike, so similar that I would have enjoyed Educated more if I hadn't read Wariner's memoir first. Take note: the grim family situation is reminiscent of that in The Great Alone, and the two books share a narrator: many readers have commented that they couldn't listen to both—it was too confusing! 12 hours and 10 minutes. More info →
I loved this so much, and recommended it to Jen Hatmaker on What Should I Read Next? Episode 135. This Pulitzer winner manages to be serious and seriously funny. The hero is Arthur Less, who is facing his 50th birthday, his ex-boyfriend of nine year's wedding to another, and his publisher's rejection of his latest manuscript, all at the same time. He decides to hit the road—and on this trip, everything that can go wrong, does. Nonstop puns on the author's name, an arch sense of humor, and an interesting narrative structure keep this book filled with sad things from feeling downcast. When I got to the end I was strongly tempted to immediately begin again. 8 hours and 17 minutes. More info →
I included this in my latest Quick Lit post, but I couldn't talk about recent audiobooks without including it. This was my first Elinor Lipman book, but it won't be my last. This was perfect listening for a recent solo road trip: light and breezy in tone, but substantial beneath the surface. The story revolves around a thirty-two year-old woman named Faith Frank, who's dealing with A LOT right now: a flaky fiancé, an incompetent boss, a new fixer-upper with a disturbing past, a father who's having a midlife crisis. But her office-mate pal is helping her through, and it's a fun and funny journey. 9 hours and 10 minutes. More info →
You all have been telling me to listen to Rick Bragg read his own work for years, and now, I get it: this is the best thing I've listened to in a good long while, and maybe, ever—which I did NOT expect from an essay collection. Bragg reads 70-ish pieces of his nonfiction work, most of which has been previously published. Some are just a few minutes long; the longest runs for about fifteen. He covers A LOT of ground: football, fishing, book tour, his mama's cornbread, wardrobe concerns, New Orleans cuisine, natural disasters. These stories are compact, wistful, funny, and poignant. SO GOOD. (Tell me which Rick Bragg to read next in comments?) 8 hours and 43 minutes. More info →
When three readers with great taste recommended this middle-grade audiobook in the course of a week, I knew it was time to listen. This award-winning novel revolves around three children, in Germany, California, and Pennsylvania, whose lives are connected by music—and a harmonica with a magical past. World War II also features prominently in the plot. The multiple narrators bring it to life, with a fun musical accompaniment in just the right places. A Newbery honor book and Audie Award winner. 10 hours and 37 minutes. More info →
I downloaded this new release (out May 1) because I love novels about New York City and was intrigued by the Broadway angle: everyone's counting on teen pop star Carter Reid to anchor a much-anticipated musical revival, but he is wholly uninterested in fulfilling his contract. Enter Allison Brinkley, a newly unemployed mom who just arrived from Dallas. When a series of minor disasters connects her with Carter, one thing is clear: the kid needs a parental figure in his life. The story is slow to start, but I thoroughly enjoyed it once it did (and I'm saying that as a reader who didn't love her 2016 release Small Admissions. This was a great listen for another solo road trip. Take note: it's seriously sweary. 12 hours and 50 minutes. More info →
Have you listened to any great audiobooks lately? Please tell us all about it in comments!