Now Hear This

Seira Wilson on February 22, 2018

VolumeButton_225.jpgThe 2018 Audie Award Finalists for the best audio books were announced recently and the list includes Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (written and narrated by Trevor Noah) for Biography/Autobiography and Beartown (written by Fredrik Backman, narrated by Marin Ireland) for Fiction.

Now that audios are as accessible as the phone in my pocket, I've been listening to them a lot more.   I have a relatively short commute for work, but when I'm cleaning the house, gardening, or even just taking a shower in the morning, I put on my headphones or portable speaker, and listen to a book.  It's a great way to let my mind relax and just fall into a story.  If I were to compile my own short list of  favorite audio books that I've listened to over the last year, these five would be on it:

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, narrated by Caroline Lee

I started to watch the HBO series but after the first episode I realized I wanted to read the book first, but didn't have time, so chose the audio.  It's SO good!  The narration by Caroline Lee is fantastic; I really got a sense of each character's depth and the twisty plot that Moriarty put together about these three moms living in a wealthy beachfront suburb; what goes on behind closed doors and all the lies they hide behind.  I did watch the rest of the series later, and while I thought it was a really great adaptation, I loved the audio more.

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The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone, narrated by Dean Temple

I like listening to nonfiction on audio even though I know it's a tricky business.  Sometimes business books or similar can be a little on the drier side, but when the book is good and the narrator keeps their voice animated enough to engage without sounding cartoonish, you've got a winner.  The Upstarts is a fascinating look at how these two companies that have become such a part of our lives came to be and the many times they almost didn't make it.  I still quote bits and pieces of this book to people if the topic of Uber or Airbnb come up (as they still frequently do...). 

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The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolf, narrated by Joe Barrett

I never read The Bonfire of the Vanities and *thankfully* never saw the movie (I've heard it's terrible).  But when this popped up on an Audible sale I figured it was a good time to finally check it out.  This one is long--27 hours, 28 minutes--but I loved it all the same.  The narrator did an amazing job with the voices, especially that of Maria who has a particular way of saying the protagonist Sherman's name, and I spent many of those 27 hours cracking up over this satire of 1980s America's obsession with power and money.

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Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone written and narrated by Brené Brown

I love Brené Brown. The way she examines human behavior and emotion from the perspective of a social scientist totally works for me. For the audio of Braving the Wilderness, Brown reads the audio edition herself.  If you've ever seen her TED talk (and if you haven't, I urge you to join the 30 million others who've viewed it) you know that she has this soothing, slightly southern voice and a totally down-to-earth way of speaking and expressing her ideas.  Sometimes life throws you to the dirt; in this book Brown explains the common factors for people who get up, dust off, and go again.  I listened to it twice last year and her voice in my ear really helped when my knees were feeling pretty dusty...

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton

After a long stretch of not listening to audios this is one of the first ones I started with again.  And it got me hooked right away.  I'd heard such good things about Ready Player One, but in my job it's really hard to find time to read something that was published even a year ago, so audio is a great way for me to catch up on the "want to read" pile without feeling guilty.  Wil Wheaton is a masterful narrator for this nostalgic, futuristic, quest-meets-space opera.  When the trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation started playing at the theater I recognized it right away because I still remember the audio so well.  I always recommend this title to someone thinking about trying an audio book.

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