Tag: Audiobooks

The Best Nonfiction Audiobooks I’ve Listened to Lately

May 9, 2019 Annual "Best Books" Lists 11

Nonfiction Audiobooks

 

Nonfiction is my go-to for audiobooks…particularly lighter nonfiction (none of those dense history tomes for me!). I also listen to lots of backlist on audio, which is very different from my print reading habits. And, I’m sharing the best nonfiction audiobooks I’ve listened to lately (meaning in the first half of 2019) with you today.

One book missing from this list is I Miss You When I Blinkby Mary Laura Philpott because my listen was a “re-read” after reading the print version first. I reviewed the print version here, but I have to tell you the audio hit me even harder. I even changed my rating from 4 to 5 stars after listening to the audio. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend the audio (read by Philpott herself).

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Podcast Episode 3: Susie from Novel Visits (Fiction Audiobook Recommendations)

January 16, 2019 Podcast 8

fiction audiobook recommendations

 

In Episode 3, I’m back to my regular format with Susie from the blog Novel Visits (one of my top recommendation sources!). Susie recently fell in love with audiobooks and, unlike me, listens to fiction on audio. Join us for her fiction audiobook recommendations!

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Highlights

  • Why listening to audiobooks is not cheating.
  • The sign you’re listening to a great audiobook.
  • The one book that really turned Susie on to audiobooks.
  • Susie’s favorite audiobook narrators (Julia Whelan, Cassandra Campbell, Therese Plummer).
  • Sarah’s all-time favorite audiobook (it’s a miracle…I am actually able to pick just one!).
  • Susie’s favorite apps to listen to audiobooks.
  • Sarah’s take on the problem with thrillers these days.

Susie’s Fiction Audiobook Recommendations

Two OLD Audiobooks She Loves

Two NEW Audiobooks She Loves

One Audiobook She Didn’t Love

One Upcoming Release She’s Excited About

Other Books Mentioned

Other Links

About Susie

Susie Boutry of Novel VisitsBlog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve long afternoons at the library and then reading late into the night. More than ten years ago, I began journaling about the books I read and turned that passion into writing about books. My first forays were as a guest reviewer on a friend’s blog, but I soon realized I wanted to be reviewing and talking about books on a blog of my own. From there, Novel Visits was born. That was in 2016 and, though the learning curve was steep, I love being a part of the book community. Novel Visits focuses on new novel reviews (print and audio), previews of upcoming releases, and musings on all things bookish.

Next Week’s Episode

Tina from TBR, etc. (airing January 23)

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What are some of your favorite fiction audiobooks?

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The Best Audiobooks I Listened to in 2018 (Second Half)

December 27, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 8

Best Audiobooks I listened to in the second half of 2018

 

My audiobook listening really picked up in the second half of this year…mostly because I balanced it better with my podcast listening. I tend to do this when I’m listening to audiobooks that are catching my interest more.

Here are my best audiobooks I listened to in 2018…the second half (check out my post on the best audiobooks I listened to in the first half of 2018 here)…

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

The Best Audiobooks I Listened to in 2018 (Second Half)

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen Waite (Memoir, Released July 11, 2017)
Waite’s memoir of her marriage to a psychopath / sociopath (Marco) is every wife’s nightmare come to life. There’s cheating and then there’s cheating as part of a pattern of psychotic or sociopathic behavior. Jen’s husband does the latter. She discovers Marco is cheating on her soon after having their first child. Then, she discovers a whole web of lies and starts to realize he’s not the man he seemed. I was absolutely riveted to this audio…I ignored new podcasts to listen, something I don’t normally do. Jen chronicles her slow process of realization and recovery, which definitely made me wonder if some people I know are also sociopaths.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent by Tamer Elnoury (Memoir, Released October 23, 2017)
Written under a pseudonym for the author’s safety, this is his story of working undercover for an elite counterterrorism unit following 9/11. Elnoury made a career change from going undercover in the drug world to undercover in the terrorism world. And, his story is absolutely chilling. It illuminates terrorism plots that were thankfully thwarted and characters who are the worst of the worst. But, the most interesting part about it for me was the exploration of Elnoury’s version of Islam and how he feels about those that practice the radicalized version of his religion. And, I wondered if the terrorists in this book read it and recognized themselves…and what that means for Elnoury’s safety. Great pick fans of cloak and dagger.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou (Business, Released May 21, 2018)
Bad Blood is the true story of the meteoric rise and spectacular fall of the Silicon Valley biotech startup, Theranos. My favorite types of business books are the explosive, behind-the-scenes tell-all kinds and Bad Blood fits the bill. Though I did get lost in some of the science and engineering details, I was fascinated / horrified at the arrogance of Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos’s young CEO who viewed herself as the next Steve Jobs, and the lengths Theranos went to to create a “unicorn” whether or not they actually had a viable product.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

From the Corner of the Ovalby Beck Dorey-Stein (Memoir, July 10, 2018)
This quarter life crisis memoir set in the world of politics is my favorite audiobook of the year! It’s like listening to your fun friend who happens to have a White House job (stenographer) with extensive access to the President give you all the very best anecdotes (plus, a good dose of her love life) over a glass of wine! It’s fun, snarky, and heart-felt and Beck is the rare “DC creature” who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Many Goodreads reviewers complained about the focus on her love life (and bad decisions), but I think it made her more endearing and relatable…and let’s get real, many of us (including me) have been there at some point in our lives! This is a great pick if you loved Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastronmonaco or The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close (my review) and would make a great graduation gift.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

How to Be Married by Jo Piazza (Memoir, Released August 18, 2017)
Piazza chronicles her own difficult first year of marriage as she travels to five continents learning about views on marriage in different cultures. This memoir is really part memoir and part travelogue. I’ve been drawn to books about marriage over the last few years (both fiction and nonfiction)…especially those that keep it real. And, Piazza definitely keeps it real, focusing on both the good parts and tough parts of a year of huge adjustment that often gets papered over with “newlywed bliss” expectations. She also explores the cultural rationale for certain types of marriage structures that Americans view as demeaning to women (i.e. polygamy). I can’t say I agree, but I do now have a better understanding of why women in some cultures participate in these types of traditions. Piazza comes across as independent, yet relatable and I loved her narration! Great choice for fans of Kelly Corrigan.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’ll Be There for You: The One About Friends by Kelsey Miller (Television, Released October 23, 2018)
Yep, you guessed it…a behind-the-scenes history of Friends. This book is one big ball of 90’s nostalgia and, upon finishing it, I immediately started binge-watching Friends on Netflix. Not only do you get all the cute anecdotes you’d expect from a book like this, but there’s some interesting discussion about some ways the show is problematic when viewed through today’s cultural lens. An easy listen and a great gift for fans of Friends!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs (Memoir, Released September 4, 2018)
This memoir from Steve Jobs’ first daughter that he alternately claimed and refused to claim for many years is first and foremost a coming of age story…it doesn’t read like a celebrity tell-all. It does highlight the incredible juxtaposition of Lisa’s and Steve’s daily lives…Lisa’s mom is a hippy artist and they live a very modest lifestyle. Jobs sporadically helps them out financially, but they can’t rely on any consistency. Jobs comes off as a weird, overly particular, arrogant, prick. He’s incredibly hot and cold with his daughter…almost toying with her. However, Lisa isn’t super likable either…giving the book an overall cold feeling. This inside look is fascinating, but I do think it could’ve been a hundred pages shorter. And, I would’ve liked more focus on the end of Jobs’ life…when Apple truly took off with the iPad, etc. and he was battling cancer, but maybe that’s to be found in a different book.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower (Politics, Released August 7, 2015)
This portrait of life in the White House for the first families is told from the perspective of the residence service staff. I love a good “behind-the-scenes of anything Presidential” book, especially one that doesn’t really get into politics…and I’ve read a lot of them. The household service staff brings a unique viewpoint, since they see the first families at their most unguarded. Perfect if you’re interested in the inner workings of the White House (especially if you liked Ronald Kessler’s books, In the President’s Secret Service and The First Family Detail)!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What are the best audiobooks you listened to in the second half of 2018?

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Nonfiction Mini Reviews (Nonfiction November 2018) and New Additions to my TBR

November 29, 2018 Blogger Events 11

Nonfiction November 2018

 

Another Nonfiction November (hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and me) is in the books! And, it was an awesome one. I read/listened to eight books and only one was a stinker. And, my favorite book of Nonfiction November was Dopesick by Beth Macy!

I usually use Nonfiction November to create my Nonfiction TBR for the coming year and I found some great books to get that started!

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Nonfiction mini reviews

2018 Nonfiction November Mini Reviews

Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times by Mark Leibovich
Nonfiction – Sports (Released September 4, 2018)
400 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Publisher: Penguin Press)

Plot Summary: Political writer Leibovich switches gears to go deep inside the NFL…with extensive access to Tom Brady and the Patriots.

My Thoughts: Mark Leibovich is the Chief National Correspondent for The New York Times Magazine focusing on politics and the author of This Town (my review), a look at the cultural landscape in Washington, D.C. I didn’t love This Town…but, I did love Leibovich’s dry, sarcastic writing style and his propensity to make fun of self-important big-shots. And, he does all that in Big Game…but, the targets are now self-important NFL owners (and there are some seriously eccentric personalities in this bunch) and Commissioner Roger Goodell. Leibovich covers concussions, Deflategate, owner/player/Commissioner dynamics, and more. It’s full of funny anecdotes about all the looney-tune personalities and hoopla surrounding the game…and doesn’t dig into the actual X’s and O’s of football too much, which I appreciated. There’s a big focus on the Patriots and my favorite person in the book is Tom Brady’s Dad…who seems like a down-to-earth guy who is flummoxed by his son’s somewhat woo-woo lifestyle. If you liked Jeanne Marie Laskas’ Concussion (my review), you’ll like this one!

“You guys are cattle and we’re the ranchers,” the late Dallas Cowboys president Tex Schramm once told Hall of Fame offensive lineman Gene Upshaw during a collective bargaining negotiation. It is an oft-quoted line that encapsulates the whole setup. Players get prodded, milked for all they’re worth, sold off, put out to pasture, and slaughtered. Implicit also here is that the cattle’s time is fleeting, like Not for Long football careers. “And ranchers can always get more cattle” is how Schramm’s quote concludes.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released January 1, 1994)
237 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Publisher: Anchor)

Plot Summary: Lamott’s guide to writing well and living the writing life…based on writing workshops she taught.

My Thoughts: This was my maiden voyage with Anne Lamott and I had some pre-conceived notions about her because she often writes about faith. I thought she’d be wise and heartfelt…and serious. But, she totally surprised me with that last one! She’s relatable and funny…even irreverently funny, which I loved. I don’t have any grand writing ambitions, but I suspect this book would be invaluable to anyone who does. And, in her writing advice, I see many of the things I love to see in the books I read. Her overall message is: listen to your characters, they’ll show you the way. Sometimes she does get overly philosophical about “art,” but I loved it overall and would love to read more by her.

Your work as a writer, when you are giving everything you have to your characters and to your readers, will periodically make you feel like the single parent of a three-year-old, who is, by turns, wonderful, willful, terrible, crazed, and adoring. Toddlers can make you feel as if you have violated some archaic law in their personal Koran and you should die, infidel. Other times they’ll reach out and touch you like adoring grandparents on their deathbeds, trying to memorize your face with their fingers.

Dopesick by Beth Macy
Nonfiction – Investigative Journalism (Released August 7, 2018)
384 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Publisher: Little, Brown)

Plot Summary: Beth Macy investigates America’s decades long opioid crisis, which is rampant in both rural and suburban areas in Central Appalachia.

My Thoughts: This book scared me sh*tless…there’s really no other way to say it. I knew America had an opioid crisis on its hands, but I had no idea how pervasive it was and that many people originally got addicted via doctor-prescribed painkillers. This book opened my eyes…and, as a parent, got me hoping that this trend will die a hard death by the time my children are old enough to encounter this stuff. Macy chronicles the many levels of failure in dealing with the opioid crisis…from drug companies, to law enforcement, to public policy makers, to doctors. It’s like the cigarette atrocity of this generation. Dopesick is a must read for parents…along with What Made Maddy Run, Girls & Sex, and Missoula…and is a good companion read for Hillbilly Elegy.

He remembered a dislocated coal miner from Grundy, Virginia, confessing that OxyContin had become more important to him than his family, his church, and his children. “It became my god,” the man said.

Driven by Julie Heldman
Nonfiction – Sports Memoir (Released August 22, 2018)
446 Pages
Bottom Line: Skip it.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Author (Self-Published)

Plot Summary: The memoir of Julie Heldman, a top-ranked pro tennis player in the 1960’s – 70’s and the daughter of Gladys Heldman, a legendary figure behind-the-scenes of the tennis world (she founded World Tennis magazine and was partially responsible for the formation of the Virginia Slims women’s tour, the precursor to today’s WTA).

My Thoughts: I’m a huge tennis fan, which is why I gave this self-published memoir a shot. There was a ton of fascinating tennis history in this book…the battle for equal treatment of women on the pro tour, the personalities of legendary players from that time (ex: Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert), and the politics surrounding pros and amateurs. Driven also focuses on Julie’s relationship with her mother (Gladys) and Julie’s eventual battle with mental illness. Famous and beloved in the tennis world, Gladys was a bit of a Mommie Dearest behind closed doors. While somewhat interesting, Heldman beats a dead horse for close to 500 pages (an outrageous length for this book). Driven is desperately in need of an editor…to cut repetitions, to craft story arcs, and to improve the writing (some sections felt like she’d copied directly from her childhood diaries). The tennis history is what kept me reading, so unless you’re an avid tennis fan, there’s probably not much in here to make it worth wading through the muck.

I grew up in a family where the youngest and most demanding child was the world’s largest tennis magazine.

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis
Nonfiction (Released October 2, 2018)
219 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Publisher: W.W. Norton)

Plot Summary: Lewis dives deep into the inner workings of murky government agencies (i.e. Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, etc) to explore the obscure risks the government grapples with every day.

My Thoughts: Michael Lewis is a master at making boring, tedious information sound fascinating and he did it again with The Fifth Risk. He shines a light on obscure people with important and interesting, but relatively unknown jobs within the federal government. He exposes risks that regular citizens probably never consider, but that the federal government works to mitigate every day (i.e. the electrical grid). And, he investigates the Trump transition (or lack thereof). There is an incredible amount of information packed into just over 200 pages…so much that the book felt like a brain dump at times. Despite being fascinated by almost everything he shared, I’m still unclear what his overall purpose is: is he trying to educate U.S. citizens about all the things government does for them / saves them from? Trying to expose Trump’s non-existent / unorganized transition? Figure out the biggest risks in government? Publicly recognize unsung government heroes? He seemed to have all these purposes at various times. Mostly, I took from it that I had no idea what certain parts of the government do…and now I know a little more. Also, it’s clear what side of the political aisle Michael Lewis identifies with…and he writes from that perspective.

Another way of putting this is: the risk we should most fear is not the risk we easily imagine. It is the risk that we don’t. Which brought us to the fifth risk. […] The fifth risk did not put him at risk of revealing classified information. “Project management,” was all he said.

Audiobooks

American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent by Tamer Elnoury
Nonfiction – War (Released October 23, 2017)
9 Hours, 42 Minutes
Bottom Line: Read it
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Dutton)

Plot Summary: Written under a pseudonym for the author’s safety, this is his story of working undercover for an elite counterterrorism unit following 9/11.

My Thoughts: Elnoury made a career change from going undercover in the drug world to undercover in the terrorism world. And, his story is absolutely chilling. It illuminates terrorism plots that were thankfully thwarted and characters who are the worst of the worst. But, the most interesting part about it for me was the exploration of Elnoury’s version of Islam and how he feels about those that practice the radicalized version of his religion. And, I wondered if the terrorists in this book read it and recognized themselves in it…and what that means for Elnoury’s safety.

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
Nonfiction – Business / Investigative Journalism (Released May 21, 2018)
11 Hours, 37 Minutes
Bottom Line: Read it

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Publisher: Knopf)

Plot Summary: The true story of the meteoric rise and spectacular fall of the Silicon Valley biotech startup, Theranos.

My Thoughts: My favorite types of business books are the explosive, behind-the-scenes tell-all kinds (DisneyWar by James B. Stewart, Those Guys Have All the Fun by James Andrew Miller, and House of Cards by William Cohen) and Bad Blood fits the bill. Though I did get lost in some of the science and engineering details, I was fascinated / horrified at the arrogance of Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos’s young CEO who viewed herself as the next Steve Jobs, and the lengths Theranos went to to create a “unicorn” despite the absence of a viable product. This one will make a great “Dad” gift for the holidays!

New Nonfiction to My TBR

Silence in the Age of Noise by Erling Kagge (November 21, 2017)
Recommended by Reading with Jade (it was her favorite nonfiction read so far this year)…this one caught my eye because I loved Quiet by Susan Cain (my thoughts) and I’ve become more and more interested in introversion as I’ve gotten older. 

A transformative account of an experience that is essential for our sanity and our happiness.

Whoever Fights Monsters by Robert Ressler and Tom Schachtman (May 1, 1992)
Recommended by Kazan at Always Doing…I love true crime and this by two guys that track serial killers.

The man who coined the term “serial killer”, Ressler is a modern-day Sherlock Holmes who combines observation and a knowledge of psychopathic personalities to draw profiles of unknown perpetrators that are astonishingly accurate descriptions based on various aspects of the crime itself.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (October 21, 2014)
Recommended by Tina at TBR, etc…I’ve obviously been hearing about this book for ages from many people, but Tina’s Instagram post was what really made me want to read it.

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott (May 1, 1993)
Recommended by Sarah K, one of my blog readers (via my comments section)…I love honest accounts of motherhood and loved my first Anne Lamott this month (Bird by Bird).

The most honest, wildly enjoyable book written about motherhood is surely Anne Lamott’s account of her son Sam’s first year.

Dead Girls by Alice Bolin (June 26, 2018)
Recommended by Kelly at Stacked…she paired this one with Sadie by Courtney Summers, which I liked, in her Fiction / Nonfiction pairings post. More for my true crime TBR list, which is getting longer every minute.

A collection of poignant, perceptive essays that expertly blends the personal and political in an exploration of American culture through the lens of our obsession with dead women.

This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Phillips (October 16, 2018)
Recommended by Susie at Novel Visits…I’m all for a juicy celebrity memoir, especially one that’s great on audio!

A memoir by the beloved comedic actress known for her roles on Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek, and Cougar Town who has become “the breakout star on Instagram stories…imagine I Love Lucy mixed with a modern lifestyle guru.”

The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber (April 15, 2013)
Recommended by Tina at TBR, etc.…more for my true crime TBR!

After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed “The Angel of Death” by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history.

What was your favorite read and top TBR add of Nonfiction November?

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My Year of Nonfiction So Far: Nonfiction November 2018

October 30, 2018 Blogger Events 32

Nonfiction November 2018

 

Welcome to Nonfiction November 2018! I’m thrilled to be co-hosting 2018’s Nonfiction November with Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, and Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness! Nonfiction November is a month dedicated to celebrating nonfiction…we’ll talk about our favorites, trade recommendations, discuss our nonfiction reading habits, and hopefully discover some new book blogs! There will be a link-up for your posts every Monday…go here for the schedule of events and where to find the link-ups. Here’s my year of nonfiction so far…

Hop over to Sophisticated Dorkiness to link up your introductory post!

My Year of Nonfiction

So far this year, I’ve read 27 Nonfiction books (34% of my total books read), 16 of which were audiobooks. This is down 22% from this time last year’s 35 Nonfiction books, 27 of which were audiobooks. I didn’t realize I hadn’t read as much nonfiction this year until I was writing this post!

Diving into the numbers a bit, I realized I’d actually read more nonfiction books / e-books this year and listened to a lot less audiobooks. The decrease in audiobook listening is the reason my overall nonfiction reading has fallen off this year. I’ve been listening to a lot more podcasts and sometimes took a full month to get through one audiobook. Over the past few months, a bunch of audiobooks came in from the library and I learned there’s nothing like a library due date to get me to choose an audiobook over podcasts! So, my audiobook pace has picked back up lately.

Favorite Nonfiction of 2018 So Far

My Year in Nonfiction

 

Overall Favorite Nonfiction of 2018

Favorite Nonfiction Audiobook of 2018

From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

Most Recommended Nonfiction of 2018

My Year in Nonfiction

 

This year, I’ve read a lot of…

“Life wisdom” essay collections, mostly written by women.

My go-to authors for these types of books are (check out my “Women Who Get Women” Authors Club post for more of these types of authors):

  • Ann Patchett
  • Anna Quindlen
  • Kelly Corrigan
  • And, even though I’ve only read one book by Maggie O’Farrell, I think she could be added to the list.

This year, I haven’t read enough…

Investigative Journalism…

But, over half of my Nonfiction November TBR list is investigative journalism, so I’m going to make up for it!

Sports…

I love sports memoirs and general nonfiction and I have one of each on my Nonfiction November TBR list!

What are your favorite Nonfiction books so far this year?

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The Best Audiobooks I’ve Listened to in 2018 So Far + A Giveaway

June 21, 2018 Annual "Best Books" Lists 39

Best Audiobooks 2018 So Far

 

It took me awhile to get into a good grove with audiobooks, but now that I’m there, they’ve been such a great addition to my reading life. I had to figure out what type of books worked best for me (lighter nonfiction) and the right times to listen (not while I’m exercising). But, I’ve figured it out and incorporating audiobooks enables me to fit in so much more reading than I’d be able to otherwise! Plus, audiobooks are where I fit in lots of backlist books that it’s hard to make time for. So, I’m excited to share the best audiobooks I’ve listened to in 2018 so far…

June is Audiobook Month (#loveaudiobooks) and incorporating audiobooks into my reading life has enabled me to read 20-30 more books per year, so I’m thrilled to participate in the Audio Publishers Association’s “June is Audiobook Month” blog tour (#loveaudiobooks)!

Giveaway

And good news for you…as part of the blog tour, I get to offer you a giveaway of 8 audiobooks from Blackstone Publishing, High Bridge Audio, Hachette Audio, LA Theatre Works, Macmillan Audio, Post Hypnotic Press Audiobooks, Scholastic and Tantor Audio. The books will be available on Audiobooks.com, and you will get a promo code to access all 8 audiobooks. Let me know in the comments section if you’d like to be entered into the giveaway…
*Limited to U.S. residents only.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

The Best Audiobooks I’ve Listened to in 2018 So Far

Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi (September 5, 2017)
The host of the Note to Self podcast (which is awesome, by the way!) explores the connection between boredom (aka the opportunity for your mind to wander) and creativity. Hint: it involves unplugging from your phone and social media for periods of time. The science she shares about what excessive smartphone use is doing to our brains is fascinating and scary. And, she includes easy tips to help manage your smartphone use.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Enduranceby Scott Kelly (October 17, 2017)
It took me the entire month of February to listen to this 12 hour audiobook! It’s Astronaut Scott Kelly’s (Former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford‘s brother-in-law) story of his year on the International Space Station. Hearing about what it’s like to live on the Space Station was mostly really interesting, though the book could have been shorter.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan (February 4, 2014)
I absolutely adored Corrigan’s latest memoir, Tell Me More, so I was excited to delve into her backlist. While Glitter and Glue didn’t blow me away quite as much as Tell Me More, I still relished sinking back into Corrigan’s signature brand of heartfelt, relatable, and sometimes irreverent observations about life and motherhood. Corrigan hadn’t given much thought to what it’s like to mother someone or quite appreciated her mother until she stepped into the role of surrogate caring for two children who had lost their own. If you like women’s life observations-type writing (think Anna Quindlen, Cheryl Strayed), Kelly Corrigan should be next on your list!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills
Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills was improbably accepted by famously private Harper and Alice Lee when she visited Monroeville, AL for a story and ended up living next door to Harper. The story is as much about Mills’ journey to friendship with the Lees as it as about Lee herself. As I was listening, I almost felt like I was in To Kill A Mockingbird. For a real treat, pair with Episode 172 of From the Front Porch podcast about Annie Jones’ visit to Monroeville and a breakdown of what’s happened with Harper Lee’s estate since she passed away.

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Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give by Ada Calhoun (May 16, 2017)
This collection of essays flips wedding toasts on their heads…focusing on real talk about marriage with all its joys and challenges. Not the gushy platitudes that fill many actual wedding toasts. It’s contemplative, a bit sad, but also real and honest. If you prefer things less sugarcoated, this collection is for you.
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Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian (March 27, 2018)
You’ve probably heard much of the scoop in this book before (especially if you’re a golf fan), but mostly in little snippets over the course of his whole career. Benedict and Keteyian put all this together to paint a complete picture of Tiger as a person and an athlete. It’s a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of an elite athlete in the limelight who has been trained as a machine…and sorely under-trained as a whole person. PS – Bill Simmons, one of my favorite sports writers/podcasters, loved this book and read it in a few sittings.

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What are the best audiobooks you’ve listened to in 2018 so far?

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The Best Backlist Books I’ve Read in 2018 So Far

May 29, 2018 Mini Book Reviews 23

Best Backlist Books I've Read in 2018 So Far

 

The best backlist books I’ve read in 2018 so far are all over the map from a genre perspective. But, good for me for genre diversity!

I never read as many backlist books as I’d like, but I do try to fit some in at the beginning and end of every year. And, putting them on hold at the library holds me accountable because I feel pressure to make the time when the books come in!

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

The Best Backlist Books I’ve Read in 2018 So Far

Glitter and GlueGlitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released February 4, 2014)
224 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Ballantine Books)

Plot Summary: Corrigan’s stint as a nanny to an Australian family who had lost their mother helps her reflect on what it means to be a mother and her relationship with her own mother.

My Thoughts: I absolutely adored Corrigan’s latest memoir, Tell Me More, so I was excited to delve into her backlist. While Glitter and Glue didn’t blow me away quite as much as Tell Me More, I still relished sinking back into Corrigan’s signature brand of heartfelt, relatable, and sometimes irreverent observations about life and motherhood. Corrigan hadn’t given much thought to what it’s like to mother someone or quite appreciated her mother until she stepped into the role of surrogate caring for two children who had lost their own. I know I couldn’t begin to relate to what it’s like to be a mother until I was one myself…which gave me a whole new appreciation for my own mother…a situation I’m guessing is pretty common. If you like women’s life observations-type writing (think Anna Quindlen, Cheryl Strayed), Kelly Corrigan should be next on your list! Read by the author, this one is great on audio!

[…] I probably should have figured this out sooner, but what child can see the woman inside her Mom, what with all that mother-ness blocking out everything else?

Heating and CoolingHeating and Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
Memoir (Released October 10, 2017)
112 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: W.W. Norton)

Plot Summary: In a series of tiny chapters (some only a single paragraph), Fennelly shares anecdotes from her life.

My Thoughts: This memoir is told in a totally unique format…actually a number of different formats (short essays, single paragraphs or sentences, a poem, etc) collected into one volume. It’s clever and witty and random, but delightfully random. It’s a 100% “real life” book. She touches on marriage, parenthood, her writing career, her Catholic upbringing (Catholics beware – she sort of skewers Catholicism), and everyday life. It’s the perfect choice for a time when you’re distracted or don’t have much reading time…and would make a perfect “bathroom book” (i.e. the book that sits on the back of the toilet to be picked up by whoever sits down).

There will come a day—let it be many years from now—when our kids realize no married couple ever needed to retreat at high noon behind their locked bedroom door to discuss taxes.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican DaughterI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
Fiction – Young Adult (Released October 17, 2017)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Plot Summary: In the wake of her sister’s tragic death, Julia Reyes (the daughter of Mexican immigrants) strains against the expectations of her traditional parents and tries to find out more about her sister’s life.

My Thoughts: This story of a cultural and generational clash, dealing with grief, and living in the shadow of a deceased sibling reminded me a bit of Everything I Never Told You (my review). Julia is a bit of a feminist with ambitions to leave her Chicago suburb to pursue her writing dreams, while her parents think she should stay home, learning to keep house like “good Mexicans daughters” (e.g. her sister). Julia narrates the book in a salty, questioning style, but her constant negativity started to grate on me after awhile. The story is bleak at times, but is ultimately hopeful (even though the ending is a bit too neat and tidy, though that’s probably appropriate for YA). Though not perfect, this coming-of-age story about the universal theme of young girls navigating their paths with parents who are vastly different than they are could be a transformative read for young girls.

In some ways, I think that part of what I’m trying to accomplish—whether Amá really understands it or not—is to live for her, Apá, and Olga. It’s not that I’m living life for them, exactly, but I have so many choices they’ve never had, and I feel like I can do so much with what I’ve been given. What a waste their journey would be if I just settled for a dull, mediocre life. Maybe one day they’ll realize that.

Red Notice Red Notice by Bill Browder
Nonfiction – Business (Released February 3, 2015)
380 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Publisher: Simon & Schuster)

Plot Summary: The true story Browder’s experience as one of the first foreign investors in Russia after the fall of Communism and widespread privatization.

My Thoughts: You might think the premise of Red Notice sounds boring. Let me assure you…it’s not. It’s a financial thriller (if there is such a thing) that reads like fiction and kept me quickly turning the pages…while giving a fascinating picture of Russian culture in the Post-Communism era. During the course of his investing, Browder made a ton of money, partnered with billionaire Edmond Safra, angered some oligarchs via his anti-corruption battles, showed some serious guts, and ended up in a knockdown, drag-out battle with Putin and the Russian regime. Think a cross between Michael Lewis, Dominick Dunne, and the TV show Billions. Bonus: rumor has it he wrote this book in an effort to stay alive, to become well-known enough that the Russians couldn’t easily take him out.

This whole exercise was teaching me that Russian business culture is closer to that of a prison yard than anything else. In prison, all you have is your reputation. Your position is hard-earned and it is not relinquished easily. When someone is crossing the yard coming for you, you cannot stand idly by. You have to kill him before he kills you. If you don’t, and if you manage to survive the attack, you’ll be deemed weak and before you know it, you will have lost your respect and become someone’s bitch. This is the calculus that every oligarch and every Russian politician goes through every day.

Virgin SuicidesThe Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Fiction – Debut (Released April 1, 1993)
249 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Plot Summary: In a Detroit suburb, the five enigmatic Lisbon sisters commit suicide over the course of a year and the neighborhood boys who were obsessed with them try to understand why.

My Thoughts: I recently read Annie Spence’s Dear Fahrenheit 451 and she raved so much about The Virgin Suicides that I immediately felt like a freak of nature for not having read it yet! I definitely didn’t end up as evangelical about it as Annie, but I did really like it. It’s a gorgeously written, nostalgic, wistful, coming-of-age story told from the collective voice of the neighborhood boys who were obsessed with the mysterious and unreachable Lisbon sisters. This is a book where you know what happens in the first sentence, so there isn’t a ton of “action” (other than lots of awkward, teenage stalking), yet Eugenides still managed to create incredible, simmering tension that had me almost as obsessed with the Lisbon sisters as the neighborhood boys were. PS – the first and last lines are among the best first and last lines I’ve ever read.

It didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn’t heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree-house, with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.

What great backlist books have you read this year?

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The Best Audiobooks I Listened To In 2017

December 28, 2017 Annual "Best Books" Lists 11

Best Audiobooks I Listened to in 2017


Audiobooks are a relatively new, but welcome, addition to my reading life. It took me awhile to get into a good grove with them. I had to figure out what type of books worked best for me (lighter nonfiction) and the right times to listen (not while I’m exercising), but I’m now confident enough with my strategy to put together a Best Audiobooks I Listened to in 2017 list.

Even though I’ve been in a good listening groove for about a year and a half, you don’t hear much about audiobooks on the blog because I find it hard to review them (taking notes and marking favorite passages is inconvenient with audio!) and the pressure of knowing I’m going to write about them decreases my listening pleasure. But, I’ve been getting more and more requests for audiobook recommendations, so I’m going to try to be better about sharing my favorites here in 2018…most likely in round-up or extremely mini review format.

Audiobooks are also where I knock out lots of backlist books, so unlike my other Best Books of 2017 lists, this one includes books that were published before 2017.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

The Best Audiobooks I Listened To In 2017

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold
Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold’s mother (Sue) shares her struggle following the shooting and Dylan’s suicide in this poignant memoir. I was initially skeptical of this one (would she just try to excuse her son’s actions?) and, while she did search for a “why?”, there was much more to this extremely complex story.

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Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
The Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s memoir about growing up as a mixed race child in apartheid South Africa is technically a celebrity memoir, but it’s actually not that at all. It is a heartfelt, funny, sad, and warm story about growing up as an outcast in an incredibly oppressive place.

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Daring to Drive by Manal al-Sharif
al-Sharif started the campaign for women to drive in Saudi Arabia and this book is the story of her life as well as a stark portrayal of the oppression women face in Saudi Arabia. This is one eye-opening, heart-breaking read and is perfect for anyone who loved The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg (my review).

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Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
My Mom gave me this book when I was pregnant with my first child seven years ago and it didn’t make much of an impact on me. But, Will Schwalbe made me want to try it again in his Books for Living. The second time, it spoke directly to my core…maybe because I had seven years of motherhood under my belt by then.

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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
Listening to Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake was like seeing a therapist and falls into the same category as Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things. Quindlen has such a grounded, practical outlook on life that really puts things in perspective and this book could have made my overall Best Books of 2017 list had it been published this year! 

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My Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman
After CNN Correspondent Tom Foreman’s daughter challenges him to train for a marathon with her, he ends up running 3 marathons, 4 half marathons, and an ultra-marathon in one year. Not only is this memoir about an impressive running feat, but it’s a sweet story of a father and daughter connecting over a shared hobby. 

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The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
The true story about Christopher Knight, the man who lived alone in the Maine forest for 27 years before finally being arrested for stealing food and essentials from nearby vacation homes, is strange, but completely captivating. It’s like a mash-up between a wilderness story and a study of the introverted personality trait and came extremely close to making my overall Best Books of 2017 list

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami
This memoir is about running. But, it’s also about writing and the two are inextricably linked for Murakami.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan
This heart-breaking story of a seemingly perfect (if you looked at her Instagram account) teenager who commits suicide during her freshman year on the Penn State track team is a must-read for parents of young athletes. 

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco
This behind-the-scenes memoir by President Obama’s former Deputy Chief of Staff is technically a political memoir, but it really doesn’t include any politics. It’s more a juicy, behind-the-scenes look at working in the White House and on Obama’s campaign trail sprinkled with tips on making the most of your career…all told through the voice of someone you’d love to grab a glass of wine with! 

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What are your favorite audiobooks of 2017?

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5 Types of Audiobooks That Converted A Reluctant Listener

July 28, 2016 Audiobooks 19

5 Types of Audiobooks That Converted A Reluctant Listener


A few years ago, I started listening to audiobooks while training for my first half marathon and could never really find my groove. I had trouble concentrating on the stories and inevitably ended up not liking books that I might have liked had I read them in print. I lamented about this at length in this post.

So, after letting my Audible account languish unused for well over a year, I finally decided to cancel it. I had a number of credits available, so I randomly downloaded a bunch of audiobooks just to use them up. I tried In the Water They Can’t See You Cry (a sports memoir) first…but, instead of listening while running, I listened while getting ready for bed, unpacking groceries, cooking (when my children weren’t screaming in the background), and driving (again, minus those screaming children). And, what do you know?! I had no trouble concentrating and, just like that, I was back on the audiobook bandwagon! Since then, I’ve found a few types of audiobooks that work well for me…

Celebrity Memoirs

Recent Success: Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler

Possible Next Listen: Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

Life Improvement

Recent Success: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck by Sarah Knight, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Possible Next Listen: How to Be A Person in the World by Heather Havrilesky

Social/Behavioral Sciences

Recent Success: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Possible Next Listens: Originals by Adam Grant, You May Also Like by Tom Vanderbilt

Sports Memoirs

Recent Success: In the Water They Can’t See You Cry by Amanda Beard

Possible Next Listens: Age Is Just A Number by Dara Torres; Two Hours by Ed Caesar

Trashy Celebrity Exposes

Recent Success: The Kardashian Dynasty by Ian Halperin

Possible Next Listen: Brangelina by Ian Halperin

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Reading vs. Listening: Is it Fair for a Visual Person to Review Audiobooks?

October 29, 2014 Audiobooks, Bookish Posts, Fiction, Mysteries/Thrillers 19

I’ve never been a huge audiobook listener. In fact, prior to starting half marathon training three months ago, I can remember listening to exactly ONE audiobook (Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air)…in my life! And, that was years ago. But, I recently started listening to them as a way to pass the time running…

Here’s a rundown of a typical running/listening session:

– Listening to the story…somewhat interested…not enthralled

– “What’s my pace?” (Check Garmin watch). “OK, pace is good.”

– Sweat is dripping in my eyes (wipe sweat with shirt).

– “Oh, I’m listening to an audiobook…I should pay attention”.

– “Wait, where are we in the story? How did X and Y end up here?”

– Listen for a few minutes. “Oh, OK. Now I remember what’s going on (kind of)…I guess whatever I missed wasn’t that important anyway.”

There are three main types of learners (Visual, Auditory, and Tactile…and they mean exactly what you would think). I’m a Visual learner (with a little tactile thrown in). I’m decidedly NOT an Auditory learner.

I know this because I took a test (here is a quick and dirty version I found online) in middle school that confirmed that things go in one of my ears and out the other. Maybe this is why I was one of those frantic note-takers in class. I’m telling you, my notebook contained every single thing that came out of the teacher’s mouth. It was an absent student’s dream.

So, you can imagine how audiobooks don’t generally go well for me. I don’t mean that I dislike audiobooks…I mean that I’ve been so frequently spaced out while listening to them that I don’t have many clear opinions on what I’ve heard. Come time to write the review, my thoughts on whatever audiobook I’ve just listened to are vague. Too vague to write a thoughtful review. Which makes me wonder…

Should I be reviewing audiobooks at all? Is it fair to the authors and my readers?

For someone who isn’t great at absorbing information through hearing, choosing to listen to a book rather than read it puts the book at an immediate disadvantage. You have to really blow me away to get enough of my attention for a fantastic review. If I were reading, the author wouldn’t have nearly as high of a bar to reach to wow me. It’s flat out easier to wow me in print. But, this is not the author’s fault…it’s my own issue. So, it strikes me as unfair to review audiobooks. Consequently, I’ve caveated the two audiobook reviews I’ve written.

How differently would I have felt about the book had I read it instead?

I suspect I would have loved a few of the audiobooks that I have recently “liked well enough” if I’d read them instead. I KNOW I would have been able to write much stronger reviews about them. I have never read and listened to the same book to be able to test this theory, but Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea recently lent some credence to my theory in her review of Tom Rob Smith’s The Farm

So, after thinking all this through, I’ve decided I will be “retiring” from reviewing audiobooks. I’ll probably continue to listen to some for fun, but I won’t write about them unless they really knock my socks off. It just doesn’t feel right.

How do you feel about audiobooks? Are you able to concentrate on the story via audio? Do you review audiobooks on your blogs?