Friday, December 20, 2019

Favorite Audiobooks 21019

It's that time of year again when I recap my reading. At press time, I've finished 56 books in 2019. I'm going to offer three lists this year: Favorite Audio, Favorite Nonfiction, and Favorite Fiction. The final category will include children's and adult literature. I used to read a ton more middle grade and YA because of my job. Since I'm not teaching and haven't finished as many in those categories this year, I'm just going to fuse the fiction. You can see all of the books I've read in 2019 here. If I finished the book, I really liked it! You might notice that I assign everything 5 Stars on Goodreads these days. That's because of professional author etiquette reasons. But if I didn't like a book, I just didn't finish it. You won't find it on my Goodreads list. I'm always happy to give personalized recommendations, so hit me up on Twitter or Instagram or email me, and I'll break down my 5 stars with your personal interests in mind.

Ok, so here are my five favorite audiobooks in alphabetical order by author!

Heavy by Kiese Laymon, narrated by the author
The New York Times named this one of the best books of 2018, so I'm late to the party and hardly the only person who thinks it's genius. Laymon has written a poetic, raw, and demanding memoir. It's about his blackness, his body, and his mother. I think everyone should read it. Laymon reads the audio version himself with emotion and gravity. It's hard for me, as a white woman, to stay engaged in books like this sometimes because they remind me of my complicity in white supremacy. But that's my job: to stay at the table. Laymon does his jobs--the writing and the performing--gorgeously and brilliantly, and I admire this work immensely.

The Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, narrated by Nancy Wu
Murata's is an odd little novel (the recording is only three hours long) about a woman, Keiko Furukura, who cannot relate to "society" or "humanity," but who finds meaning in her life through her job at a convenience store. Murata hits all of the major themes -- what does it mean to be human? To contribute? To have a meaningful life? And she does this within spare and often funny prose. Keiko speaks in first person, measuring and calculating her daily interactions. Nancy Wu narrates the text, and she's excellent. Every so often, I seem to have a "like nothing I've read before" pick, and this year, it's this one. (Previous honorees have been Dept. of Speculation, A Tale for the Time Being, and Grief is a Thing with Feathers.)

Becoming by Michelle Obama, read by the author
This pick seems so obvious it feels like cheating. Still, I can't help it. I loved hearing Obama's story -- from her family's part in the Great Migration to her own rather reluctant (and humble and grateful and responsible) ascendancy as First Lady -- in her own voice. Who doesn't love Michelle? And also, she can really write.

Limelight by Amy Poeppel, narrated by Carly Robins.
I loved this fun and touching novel about the unwitting personal assistant to a Justin Bieber-esque pop singer who's about to star (kicking and screaming) in a Broadway musical called Limelight. Allison, the PA, is a career English teacher suddenly out of work as her family has relocated to NYC to accommodate her husband's job. Her kids are floundering in their new schools, and though she advocated for the move to Manhattan, Allison isn't at all sure she's cut out for the city. She sideswipes one little BMW while distracted driving, and suddenly she becomes entangled in the wild life of notorious Carter Reid. Robins' narration is funny, fast-paced, and empathetic.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan, narrated by the author
Julia Whelan is my favorite audiobook narrator of all time. When I found out she was recording my book, I literally jumped from my bed and danced. (You can pre-order the audio of Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes right now from Libro.FM). Anyway, My Oxford Year is Whelan's own debut novel, and of course, she reads it herself. Ella is an American with brilliant political prospects who arrives in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. She falls in love with a sarcastic professor with a big secret. I was invested and swept away, and I cried some. So, have a hanky handy, and get ready for a sweet and moving romance.

1 comment:

LH said...

OohLaLa. So many good books are out and about right now.