Though, I do get a tad anxious anytime I load up a new audiobook, because the flip side of believing some books are meant to be listened to, I also strongly believe that terrible narration can ruin a perfectly well written novel. And trust me, it’s happened so many times over the course of my audiobook listening life, that I’m pretty used to it by now.
HOWEVER, last month I got pretty lucky, and
read listened to two fabulously well produced audiobooks back-to-back that I’m excited to share with you. Though, note, I highly, highly, highly recommend you consume both in audiobook format — they were each respectively well done.
Two Audiobooks You’ll Be Glad You Listened To
1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Before I dive into the plot, I’m going to give a huge shout out to Bahni Turpin, she narrated The Hate U Give, and her performance was excellent. She made this story come alive and it honestly wouldn’t have been the same without her tone, inflection, and excellent pacing.
The story follows Starr Carter, a 16 year old black high school student who witnesses a white police officer shoot her unarmed childhood best friend, Khalil. Starr is caught between two worlds: the poor black neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school that she and her brothers attend. The balance of these two worlds collapse when she sees her childhood friend die at the hands of a cop.
This is obviously a Black Lives Matter inspired novel, and it couldn’t have been executed any better. It was perfect. I cried at least half a dozen times and was left heartbroken and defeated. I highly recommend this book. It was also the 2017 winner for Audible, which was one reason I picked it, and encouraging you to give it a go as well. I’m sure the book is great too, but this is definitely a story you should hear.
2. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Lincoln in the Bardo won all the awards last year. And here’s what Saunders had to say about the book, his first full length novel:
“Many years ago, during a visit to Washington DC, my wife’s cousin pointed out to us a crypt on a hill and mentioned that, in 1862, while Abraham Lincoln was president, his beloved son, Willie, died, and was temporarily interred in that crypt, and that the grief-stricken Lincoln had, according to the newspapers of the day, entered the crypt “on several occasions” to hold the boy’s body. An image spontaneously leapt into my mind – a melding of the Lincoln Memorial and the Pietà. I carried that image around for the next 20-odd years, too scared to try something that seemed so profound, and then finally, in 2012, noticing that I wasn’t getting any younger, not wanting to be the guy whose own gravestone would read “Afraid to Embark on Scary Artistic Project He Desperately Longed to Attempt”, decided to take a run at it, in exploratory fashion, no commitments. My novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is the result of that attempt.”
As far as the audiobook is concerned, it’s read by a cast of 166 people. Many of whom are actors and musicians, as well as a number of Saunders’ family, friends, and members of his publishing team. Here are just a few names: Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, , George Saunders, Miranda July, Lena Dunham, Ben Stiller, Julianne Moore, Susan Sarandon, Bradley Whitford, Bill Hader, Megan Mullally, Rainn Wilson, Jeff Tweedy, Kat Dennings, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike O’Brien, Keegan-Michael Key, Don Cheadle, Patrick Wilson AND SO MANY MORE!
OK, but moving on. The format was a total cluster f*ck and will take you a few minutes to get used to. Chapters are ridiculously short, and some narrators only have one line. But it’s insanely poetic, and beautiful, and impossible to forget. I still get chills thinking about it.
I don’t know if I would have enjoyed it as much if I read a physical copy, which is why I’m recommending it via audiobook.
Also, I LOVE Carrie Brownstein’s voice. I could listen to her speak about literally anything and it would make my heart oh so happy.