Audiobooks are my new best friends. I don’t always carve out time to read during the day, because life just got way too busy. So over the last year, my daily commute has become that sacred time when I can listen to an audiobook. This has been great because (1) I speed a lot less when I’m concentrating on a book and not belting out Johnny Cash or the Clash, (2) I get a lot less hacked off during traffic jams when I’m listening to a good book, and (3) I make a huge dent in my reading pile and discover tons of new stories. Sometimes I can burn through a book a week when listening on my drive.
My new job means I spend a lot of time at the computer, and that has me primed to gather more audiobooks into my library. I can’t listen to a book when I’m writing, or editing, or doing much that is word-related, but my new job is in graphic design. For me, that means using an entirely different quadrant of that brain that allows me to create while listening to a book. That’s win-win!
So in case you’re tired of your iPhone’s playlist, like I was, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite audiobooks from the last year:
1.The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman. I dearly loved Practical Magic and was skeptical of the sequel. But Hoffman really delivered here, writing a story chock full of humor and heartache that was the perfect complement to the first book. The characters were wonderfully drawn and I was hooked from start to finish.
2. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah. This book was amazing. I laughed so hard, and then—I’ll admit—cried a time or two. This story of Noah’s growing up in South Africa sparkles with wit and warmth. I loved Noah’s storytelling and didn’t want it to end.
3. Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman. This is one of my favorite books by Gaiman, and the narrator (Lenny Henry) is out of this world. Modern folklore at its best, and wicked good fun. I’ve listened to it three times already.
4. You, by Caroline Kepnes. A startling thriller, told from the villainous protagonist’s point of view. And the reader, Santino Fontana, is one of my favorites of all time. This one’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s smart, and biting, and full of diabolical humor. Bonus: there’s a sequel that’s equally mesmerizing—Hidden Bodies, also read by Fontana.
5. Nuts, by Alice Clayton. I just finished this one, and laughed until I hurt myself. I love a good sassy romantic comedy, and Clayton always delivers. With lovable characters and plenty of steam, this one is sure to spice up your workweek. Warning: you might miss an exit during the spicy parts.
6. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. This is one of those books I heard references to my whole life (it won the Pulitzer, for heaven’s sake), and thought it was about something else entirely. I took a chance on this “Don Quixote of the French Quarter” and again, laughed until my ribs ached.
7. My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece, by Annabel Pitcher. Read by David Tennant, this one is part tear-jerker and all sparkle. Wonderfully layered characters bring this poignant coming-of-age story to life. It’s one I can’t forget, and one of those stories I wish I’d written.
8. The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer. I listened to this one during a low point, and Palmer reignited my creative fire. It’s a must-read for anyone in a creative funk, or anyone who is curious about the engine that drives creativity—and the giving that comes with it. Also, Palmer plays a song with a ukelele, which is about the cutest damn thing ever.
9. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. I confess, I never read it. Didn’t watch the series yet, either. But I listened to the re-release last year read by Claire Danes and it was just as impressive as I expected. The story had me hooked, and it’s as timely now as ever.
10. Underground Airlines, by Ben Winters. This one follows a bounty hunter in present-day America—but one where the Civil War never happened and slavery still exists. I was intrigued by the premise, but Winters’ prose and stark commentary kept me listening. Definitely one of the most unique reads of the year.
Bonus tip: I love the convenience of Audible, but there are lots of other sites that offer free or discounted audiobooks. Book Riot has a good list of options here. BUT don’t forget your local library—even my tiny library has a wide selection of audiobooks that they’ll deliver to me ONLINE just like their eBooks. What’s better than that?
Got a favorite audiobook? Hit me up on Twitter (@Firebrandpress). Maybe I’ll add it to a future post!