Nothing beats the feel of paper in your hands. The smell of the pages, the crisp sound of a page turning, the weight of the tome in your hands. Ah, books. But sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes, you don’t have a quiet moment to dive into the written word.
Luckily, that’s where audio books come in. While you’re driving, hanging laundry, or finishing that dull spreadsheet, someone else can do the reading for you. Luckily, Audible has an amazing selection of audio titles read by talented readers.
Note that this isn’t a greatest-of-all-time list and it certainly isn’t an extensive one. I won’t recommend something that I haven’t actually finished, so this list is based entirely on my personal preferences.
If there’s something you like that I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments.
The Gentleman Bastard Series
I’ve fallen in love with Scott Lynch’s writing, characters, and world. It is brimming with lovable (and shady) characters, clever schemes, and dastardly humour. Check out my review for the first two installments, The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, watch this space for the third (and in my opinion, best) installment, The Republic of Thieves.
If you are looking for an entertaining listen that will keep you on the edge of your seat… One that keeps you asking ‘how will they get out of this one?’ Or, a story that has actual pay-off, The Gentleman Bastard Series comes highly recommended.
The First Law Series
Another series recommendation. I’ve heard of Joe Abercrombie – I’ve seen his books on the shelves, but I never picked on up. That was until I chose The Blade Itself on a whim. I was delighted by the richness of the characters and the impact of their experiences – ranging from lost love, to gritty and bloody combat.
The narrative is strongly character focused. Perhaps the nearest thing to compare it to is the Song of Ice and Fire series, but this is less about house vs. house and more about character vs. themselves. Don’t expect much in the way of plot, though – however, I guarantee that the characters will enchant you. From the barbarian philosopher, to the grotesque torturer with a heart – these are characters you won’t find anywhere else.
I’m currently writing a review for the first two installments, so be sure to subscribe to the blog.
The Witcher – The Last Wish
If you’re like me, your love of a good story doesn’t stop at a book. Movies, series, and (of course) video games can give us engaging narratives that stay with us for a long time. In a previous post, I talked about great stories in games – the Witcher is no exception.
If you’re a fan of the Netflix adaptation and you still can’t get “Toss a Coin to your Witcher” out of your head (sorry), you might be interested in the source material. The first season is based on the short story collection, The Last Wish. I highly recommend it as, not only is it nicely translated and well read by Peter Kenny, it also gives you a greater understanding of the adventures in the series and the underlying folklore.
I am currently reading the entire series of the Witcher books, so watch this space for reviews in the near future.
The Name of the Wind
If it’s more epic fantasy you want, look no further than Patrick Rothfuss’s expansive chronicle of the life of Kvothe. The hero is smart and cunning and has done nearly everything that a great adventurer can do. It is all told by the man himself, so take his narrative with a pinch of salt.
If you like your characters smart and your magic system complex, give this novel a try. It is a rich and rewarding experience.
Note: it’s hard for me to recommend the rest of the Kingkiller Chronicles series, as the rest lacks the charm of the first. A Wise Man’s Fear – in particular – takes a very long time to say very little. It’d like to say that it’s better for one to imagine the rest of the story.
If realistic science fiction is more your thing, allow me to introduce you to Andy Weir. You’re welcome. Leave the aliens and laser pistols, it’s time for some grounded science with a bit of humour and a lot at stake. Fans of the 2015 film, The Martian, will know what I’m talking about.
Artemis is the follow up to the brilliant red planet survivor story. This time it’s closer to home – the moon. The novel imagines what a realistic lunar society would look like and the troubles they would face.
This story is – frankly – amazing! Rosario Dawson does a magnificent job reading it. If you have even the vaguest interest in the great beyond, this is a must-read.
This monster of a landmark sci-fi tome can be intimidating. It is dense and complex. This is why I preferred the audio production of Frank Herbert’s Dune. It is an interesting mix of acted scenes (with various voice actors playing particular characters) and narrated sections. The production and effects give you the massive scope of the world of Spice, Ambitious Houses, and Ecological Zealotry.
Now is the perfect time to experience what is considered by some as a right-of-passage kind of work in the sci-fi world. Especially since the Denis Villeneuve version (for which I have high hopes) is on the hazy horizon.
Shadow of the Wind
Not to be confused with the Name of the Wind above, this is one of my favourite books of all time. So much so, in fact, that I’ve struggled to find many books that match it (so far, only The Book Thief and Everything is Illuminated). This novel, the first in a series (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books) by the late Carlos Ruiz Zafón was beautifully translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves.
It is an amazing experience! I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever fallen in love with a book. Not only will it make you understand the importance of family, literature, and love, it is a story that will stay with you for the rest of your life. I don’t want to tell you anything about the plot (except maybe that it makes you love Barcelona as much as the author did) – rather experience it for yourself.
The Last Word
There are, of course, many other great books out there. I’d love to know what you recommend – please let me know in the comments below. I’d also like to know what you’re currently reading or listening to. I’m about to dive into the original Sandman Audible production (watch this space for more on that).
Speaking of Audible, they are running a trail promotion: follow this link to get two free audiobooks during your 30-day trial. Using my link will really help out the blog. Also, if you like what you see, consider subscribing or becoming a patron – this will give you access to all my reviews, recommendations, creations, and writing tips.