A bit of a break from my usual game related posts.
I got really into audiobooks this last year. I had listened to some on/off in prior years, but early this year I hit issues with eye strain and got a Libro.fm subscription, an alternative to Audible that supports local bookstores. I hit a total of 15 (out of a total of 22 books).
Mostly, I learned the joy of listening to something while doing tedious things, like chores, or while on the bus. What a game-changer.
These are my five favorite audiobooks I listened to this year. Like with my top 5 game of the year posts, this list is books I listened to this year, not books/audiobooks that were released this year. There is a slight distinction between book and audiobook here as well because I think sometimes a narrator can make or break the listening experience. This list is specifically for audiobooks.
5. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller, narrated by Frazer Douglas
The best way I can describe this book is that it is fanfiction of the Iliad focused around the Patroclus/Achilles ship and I swear say that as a compliment.
I admittedly have not read the Iliad, but I knew enough about it to know how it ends. That was an interesting experience. I knew how The Song of Achilles would end, so the emphasis was on the journey to get to the destination. We see Achilles’ growth from a child to a warrior in the Trojan War from the perspective of Patroclus. I really enjoyed following this grand heroic tale. However, I wasn’t a fan of Patroclus’s characterization. He seemed too weak and weirdly jealous.
The narration of this book is also very calming so bonus points for that.
4. The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna, narrated by Shayna Small
The Gilded Ones is a fantasy novel about a girl who gets cast out of her village after demons attack and they discover that her blood runs gold instead of red, making her near immortal (this makes more sense in context). A mysterious woman then recruits her into an army that fights against said demons.
I described this book to someone as “feeling very shounen”. It hit a lot of the tropes you’d see there. There’s the whole training to become a warrior thing, secret powers and learning to control them, the mysterious mentor, friendship, etc. I’m personally a fan. However, it’s also really graphic at points.
The characters were all pretty cool and the narration certainly brought them to life. In general, the narration was easy to follow too (which is definitely something I have a problem with in some audiobooks). I enjoyed the worldbuilding as well, though there is a very large lore dump around the end of the book. Presumably that is mostly setup for the sequel.
Finally, this book is very aggressively feminist. This is something that I would not consider a problem but man, it was really heavy handed.
3. Mythos, by Stephen Fry, narrated by Stephen Fry
Mythos was an extremely entertaining listen. Conceptually, it’s very straight forward. It’s just a bunch of Greek myths rewritten and packaged as short stories. It’s really easy to listen to Mythos in bite-sized pieces. I also feel like a lot of these stories are best presented in this way because it’s like listening to a bed-time story. It’s not written to be very comedic (has a bit of dry British humor in it), but Stephen Fry’s delivery and over-dramatic narration made it much funnier than it would have been without the audio aspect.
It’s unfortunately really hard to navigate this book without a table of contents or index, so despite it being short tales, I treated it as just a novel. But regardless, it’s pretty much what you would expect from a Greek mythology collection.
2. More Than This, by Patrick Ness, narrated by Nick Podehl
Listening to More Than This was like unwrapping a box just to find another wrapped box inside. The main character seemingly wakes up in another world after his death. The narration jumps between post and pre-death in a way that keeps the suspense high and slowly unravels the plot and the true nature of the world. I binged this book within the span of only two or three days because I needed to know what happens next. There were so many twists and turns involved.
It definitely has some cliches and YA angst involved in this, but I still really enjoyed this one. The narration was also really easy to follow because the language used is quite simple and there’s not too many characters to keep track of.
1. I’m Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy, narrated by Jennette McCurdy
I went into this book wondering if it would be overrated because of how much press and talk there was about it and ended up finding it my favorite listen (and possibly favorite book) of the year. I’m Glad My Mom Died is a memoir written by iCarly star Jennette McCurdy and follows her life from her childhood when her abusive mother forced her into being a child actor, to her stint with Nickelodeon, to her struggles with finding her own identity in adulthood. The book is told mostly sequentially and is divided into two parts – before the death of her mother and after the death of her mother.
The title on its own is very potent and encapsulates the effect of her mom on her life. The content was also pretty raw. A lot of it is with little sugar coating, one example being with her struggles with eating disorder and how her mother teaches her how to starve herself. It also goes into the depths of child acting and how they’re taken advantage of. The delivery of the audiobook is very emotional as well since she gets to tell her own story.
2 thoughts on “My 5 Favorite Audiobooks I Listened to in 2022”
I’ve heard so much good about that Jennette McCurdy book that I might get it too. I never watched any of those Nickelodeon shows, but it would be interesting to hear this perspective from an actress shoved into that role considering how rough it’s apparently been for many of them.
I listened to a few audiobooks last year, but they were all histories. That’s what I stick to these days. There are some excellent podcasts out there as well that help me get through the workday.
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Definitely recommend checking it out!
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