I have a serious love affair with audiobooks. I could never easily do a short list of my favourite audiobooks. For one thing, too many of them are part of long series and I love all the books in it! Instead this post will talk about a few audiobooks that I have particularly enjoyed for one reason or another.
Terry Pratchett is one of my all time favourite authors. He’s published close on 50 books in his Discworld series and all of them are wonderful. The books are all loosely tied together, though there are a series of arcs each focused on a different group of characters. My favourite arc is the one focussed on Commander Vimes and the City Watch. Guards! Guards! is the first book in that arc and if it doesn’t hook you, you have no soul! It’s 10 hours, 10 minutes long, so perfect for a week worth of commutes.
One Summer is the most recently published book on this list and it is a stand in for anything Bill Bryson has written. All of his books are somewhat similar, they take a time period or a theme and use that as a jumping off point to tell wonderful stories about how the world changed, and the people involved in changing it. One Summer is focussed on, what Bryson argues, is the critical moment in America’s ascendancy in the 20th century. This is not a short book, clocking in at a hair over 17 hours, but it is well worth listening to.
Like Bryson, Gladwell’s whole back catalogue is excellent and Outliers is merely a stand in for anything he’s written. It is however, Gladwell’s largest contribution to pop culture. In it, he popularised the 10000 Hour Rule, the idea that it takes 10000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert in anything. Again, in a similar manner to Bryson, Gladwell uses this as a hook to discuss a wide variety of people and situations, all of which are fascinating. It’s nice and short, just under 7 and a half hours, and poppy enough that you will breeze through it and come away feeling slightly cleverer (which I think is Gladwell’s aim).
I cannot stress how awesome this book is. I have recommended it to countless people, and countless keep have recommending it to me. I have not spoken to one person who has not adored The Name of the Wind. Think of this book as a far more adult, and far better, spiritual successor to Harry Potter and you won’t go far wrong. No mere plot summary can do it justice so I won’t even try. Just trust me. It is wonderfully long, Part One is over 16 hours, Part Two almost 12, and not one moment of that is a drag.
The Fry Chronicles picks up from where the previous volume in his autobiography, Moab is My Washpot, and Stephen Fry gives the perfect example of how good an autobiography read by the author can be. The emotion in Fry’s voice as he describes his bipolar disorder and depression even when he was at his most successful, is moving. Eloquent and engaging, The Fry Chronicles is definitely one to listen to. It won’t take too long either, at just under 12 and a half hours.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the book that got me started with audiobooks. The Eye of the World is the first book in Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series (and by epic, I mean epic, the entire fourteen book series runs to more than 460 hours). Written, in part, because Jordan didn’t think the Lord of the Rings was long enough, it is my all time favourite series and if you want to be entertained for months, listen to the whole thing through. Like with The Name of the Wind, a plot summary from me can’t do it justice. The series starts in a small village and ends up dealing with the political clashes of countries and cultures. The first book is just over 30 hours so you’re getting your moneys worth from the start!
So that is a small taste of some of my favourite audiobooks. Even if none of these books interest you, pick up a free audiobook from audible and try out something that does. You won’t regret it!