When I was growing up, I constantly listened to books on cassette tapes (yep, I’m that old) and CDs, especially as I was going to sleep. Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Dick King Smith books were my favourites, and then when I was about 12, my parents bought me Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and it was all I would listen to. Even now, I struggle to sleep unless I have Stephen Fry’s voice taking me through Hogwarts!
I still love listening to audiobooks, especially when I’m pushing the buggy or going for a long run – I can completely lose myself in the story. I’ve listened to a lot over the last couple of years, so I thought I’d share five books that I think are better as audiobooks…
Becoming (Michelle Obama)
Narrated by: Michelle Obama
Length: 19 hrs, 3 mins
This had to be my first choice. I think autobiographies generally work brilliantly as audiobooks as the author can tell the story in their own way, emphasising certain parts and really bringing it to life. I read Becoming last year, and used an Audible credit to buy the audiobook. Michelle Obama’s story is absolutely incredible, but hearing her narrate it really is amazing. I loved hearing her tell the story of how she and Barack met, and it honestly feels like you’re just listening to a friend talk. Reading the book is brilliant, but listening to it just takes it to a whole new level.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (Taylor Jenkins Reid)
Narrated by: Alma Cuervo, Julia Whelan, Robin Miles
Length: 12 hrs, 10 mins
I fell in love with this book during lockdown. I listened to it on a whim, not really knowing what it was about, and I found myself looking forward to my daily walk just so I could get back into Evelyn’s world. It’s a fictional story, but Evelyn Hugo, an ageing actress, is recounting her life story, and so a lot of it reads like an autobiography. There are multiple narrators which work really well, and I could just picture the story so vividly.
The Martian (Andy Weir)
Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
Length: 10 hrs, 59 mins
This is one of my favourite books. It’s the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut who is stranded on Mars. Unable to communicate with Earth or his crew, he sets about figuring out how to survive. The story is intelligent, funny and brilliantly written, and the film is excellent too. I first downloaded the audiobook a couple of years ago, and it was narrated by R.C. Bray, who I thought did a brilliant job of bringing the story to life. It’s recently been re-recorded with Wil Wheaton narrating, and the new recording includes some bonus material which is pretty cool. Much of the story is told directly by Mark Watney, logging and recording his day by day experience on Mars, and so it works brilliantly as an audiobook, you feel as though you’re listening to his log books.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo (Christy Lefteri)
Narrated by: Art Malik
Length: 8 hrs, 37 mins
This book was a really popular Book Club pick a few weeks ago. It’s the story of Nuri, a beekeeper and his wife, Afra, an artist. They live in Aleppo in Syria, until the war forces them to flee the country. I was absolutely loving reading the book and because I genuinely didn’t want to put it down, I decided to buy the audiobook so I could continue the story while I was out and about, and I’m so glad I did. The narration is excellent, and because it’s such an incredible story and such a descriptive book, it works beautifully as an audiobook.
Girl, Woman, Other (Bernardine Evaristo)
Narrated by: Anna-Maria Nabirye
Length: 11 hrs, 7 mins
Girl, Woman, Other follows the stories of 12 women on their personal journeys. I started reading the book but really struggled with the format and lack of punctuation, then Beth said she’d been listening to the audiobook of it so I used an audible credit and got it and I’m so glad I did. It makes the whole story flow, and I think Anna-Maria Nabirye does a brilliant job of narrating so many different characters.