I loved being read to as a child more than anything. LeVar Burton was my hero and it was mindblowing news to me the day I learned that he was known for something other than Reading Rainbow. It was he who set me up to become a devoted bookworm. I became the teenager that volunteered to do the laundry because spin cycles take time and what could I possibly do while I'm waiting? Read Jane Eyre for the sixth time? Sure! Why not?
Fast forward a few years (more than I want to think about) and my daily to-do list is a bit more robust. (What do you mean I have to shovel the driveway again? Didn't I just do that over the weekend?) I struggle to find pockets of time for sitting down to read. And I miss LeVar Burton reading to me. What to do?
Audiobooks have helped me keep my love of a good story alive and in many ways, they have enhanced my reading. For instance, I often struggle with suspending my disbelief to get through a sci-fi book, no matter how many people have loved and recommended it to me, but if Wil Wheaton is going to read it to me? I'll be glad to listen while falling asleep, while folding the laundry, doing the dishes, and yes, even shoveling the driveway. I still have my favorite genres, but I also have my favorite readers whose books I will try out, even if they don't sound like my particular taste.
Need recommendations? Here are a few to get you started!
Malibu Rising is the latest bestseller by Taylor Jenkins Reid and is read by Julia Whelan, a name that you will come across often once you start becoming an audiobook junkie. The popularity of Malibu Rising made me dearly want to read it—it felt like everyone had or was reading it last summer. And I listened to it on the beach because verisimilitude? (Yeah, that's it....)
Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams is a wildly engaging historical fiction, which is a departure from her usual magical realism. It's read by Cassandra Clare and Nicola Barber, both of whom are outstanding storytellers. I love any story that is about or set in Russia, and this one, taking place during WWII, had me enchanted and enthralled from the beginning.
Skinny Dip is by one of my favorite authors, Carl Hiaasen. The absolute hilarity and absurdity that he weaves is going to be a hit regardless of who is reading, but in this case, Stephan Hoye does an outstanding job.
A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones is read by Lorelai King (remember that name—she will come up a lot!). With a little snarky humor, some suspense, and very handsome sometimes-nemesis, the story is an exciting mystery, and Lorelai King makes the characters come to life with her incredible voices.
The Heist is the first book in the Fox & O'Hare series by Janet Evanovich. This particular series sits at the intersection of being an entertaining story in true Evanovich style and getting read by the evocative Scott Brick. It would be tough to go wrong with anything that involves either of these artists.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Remember when I mentioned that I would listen to any story Wil Wheaton wanted to read to me? This book is the reason why. I'm not big on sci-fi, dystopian, or even techno-thrillers, all of which could describe this book. But Will Wheaton took me on a trip through 80's nostalgia that has turned this into one of my favorite books of all time.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson is another entry in the absurdist fiction genre that absolutely tickles me. Marin Ireland does excellent accents that add depth to a story that could otherwise become very two-dimensional.
Magic Marks the Spot is more of a middle-grade/young adult novel by Caroline Carlson, but it absolutely bears mentioning here because I would 100% sign up to listen to Katherine Kellgren read the phone book. Yes, she's that good.
Kill the Farm Boy has got to be one of the funniest fractured fairytales I've encountered, with extra special riffs on The Princess Bride. Never has a storm of croutons seemed so hilarious than in the narration of Luke Daniels. (Extra score: one of my cats, who doesn't quite have that evil-cat-glare down is now often known as Princess Krepuscular.)
Bad Blood is written and read by John Carreyrou. Most people who have met me at the library know that this is one of my favorite books. It's true crime, but not in a gory, murdery kind of way. The story it tells is almost too bizarre to be real, and yet in the last few months, as the trial of Elizabeth Holmes unfolded in court, it seems that this book only tells part of the stranger-than-fiction story.
History Decoded by Brad Meltzer feels more like a podcast when you listen to the audiobook, but I also recommend checking the book out so that you can see the pictures and evidence that is discussed in the book. Each chapter is a different mystery or conspiracy theory from American history that offers a few possible answers for each query.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. If you've never read or listened to any Anne Lamott, start here. While she says that it's a book of advice on life and writing, it is entirely safe to say that you will get a great deal of hygge from this beautiful collection of life philosophies and observations.
After listening to a few audiobooks, odds are that you will discover a few readers that capture your imagination while you listen. The next time you're searching around the catalog, looking for what's available from a certain author, go ahead and try putting in a reader's name. It will open a whole new channel to appreciate in your reading life.