12 Best Books To Listen To Update 05/2022

Best Books To Listen To

Books are fantastic. They’re just fantastic. You can flip through them, they smell lovely when they’re new off the shelf, and you’re legally permitted to break one of your friends’ fingers if a friend who borrowed one from you folds the corners of the pages over.

Audiobooks, on the other hand, are fantastic. There aren’t any pages to fold the corners of, for starters. For another, they’re currently undergoing a revolution, with A-list celebrities signing up to read both new titles and literary classics. You also get a bunch of other goodies tossed in for good measure.

In fact, some audiobooks are even better than the books themselves — don’t tell Martin Amis we said that. Take a look at them and tell us we’re incorrect.

Don’t Laugh, It Will Only Encourage Her by Daisy May Cooper

Don't Laugh, It Will Only Encourage Her by Daisy May Cooper

Perhaps Britain’s funniest woman relates her story of growing up in rural Gloucestershire with nothing and turning it into one of the best comedy of the last 20 years. Cooper traveled to London after high school to attend Rada, which turned out to be a dreadful experience. “I wasn’t even aware of the smorgasbord of ways you might be informed how totally crap you were before I went to Rada,” she says. She returned to Gloucestershire, moved in with her younger brother Charlie, and began working as a maid while piecing together the people and ideas that would become This Country. This one has an additional Q&A part in which Cooper chats with her father, Paul.

And Away… by Bob Mortimer

Bob Mortimer’s national treasure status has taken a long time to arrive, but thanks to the Athletico Mince podcast Train Guy, his rambling surreal segments on Would I Lie To You?, and the gentle reflections on mortality that reverberate throughout Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, he’s become everyone’s slightly mad uncle. Whether fending off wolves while working on the dumpsters or becoming known as ‘the Cockroach King’ while pursuing slum landlords for Lambeth Council, this memoir delves into the often strange situations he’s found himself in. But it’s his honesty about the shyness and sadness that plagued his life in his twenties that makes it so compelling. And you can hear Bob’s impressions and characters in the audiobook — his story of battling Michael Jackson’s thugs at the Brits in 1996 is boosted enormously by his quivering Jarvis Cocker.

Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

With the film having just won a few Oscars – if you haven’t seen it yet, do so – now is a great time to dive into this extraordinary non-fiction account of the Great Recession’s devastation, and the complex feelings that people who have taken to living in cars and vans because their jobs have vanished have about their situation.

When we spoke with Bruder in February, she remarked, “The folks I encountered didn’t think of themselves as victims, and that made them more appealing.” “They believed they were making a conscious decision, which is a difficult concept to grasp since it isn’t what you or I would consider a conscious decision.”

What White People Can Do Next by Emma Dabiri

This is a practical, easy guidance “from allyship to coalition,” as the subtitle puts it, following the protests and soul-searching of last summer. Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to assist anyone, as you presumably already know. Instead, the author of Don’t Touch My Hair Dabiri urges white allies to let go of any remaining denial, shake capitalism, and let go of their guilt in order to fully support antiracism. This is sharp, humorous, and well-researched material.

Beyond by Stephen Walker

Beyond by Stephen Walker

Yuri Gagarin’s journey into space is full of remarkable experiences, and Stephen Walker’s chronicle of the expedition and Gagarin’s life is beautifully described. Here’s one of them: Gagarin realized he’d landed in a potato patch when he returned to Earth after being the first human to journey through space. An elderly mother and her granddaughter stood staring at him, apparently in the middle of harvesting.

He said, “Don’t be terrified.” “Like you, I am a Soviet citizen who has descended from space.” He took a breath and stopped. “I also need to find a phone to call Moscow.” Gagarin got a ride on a cart to the nearest phone because the grandma didn’t have one.

Later by Stephen King

Jamie, eight years old, is one of those children who seems to take in more of the world than most of his peers. Jamie, unlike the other kids who are more aware of their surroundings, also detects dead people roaming around and can converse with them. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes But, we’re assured, it won’t be “like in that Bruce Willis movie.” For one thing, Jamie can only see the dead for a week after they’ve died, and they can’t lie to him if he asks them a question. The NYPD, understandably, wants a piece of him. This is classic King behavior.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

In its slightly dystopian setting and genetically tangled class strata, the Nobel laureate’s first novel in six years has echoes of his Never Let Me Go, but Klara and the Sun takes a new path. Klara, a machine in a future when children socialize with artificially intelligent machines rather than each other, learns about the world through the shop window she stands in. Josie, a teenager who is one of the ‘lifted,’ a genetically produced genius, is eventually paired up with her.

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

Two young people — she is a dancer, he is a photographer – meet at a pub in south-east London and discover they both received scholarships to renowned private institutions where they felt like outsiders. They fall in love and feel the city’s pulsing push and pull as it lifts and reduces them, and they crumble under the stresses that the metropolis places on these young Black artists. This is a lively, sophisticated debut that, like Luster below, benefits much from its author reading it with delicate intensity. “Writing, to a degree, is an act of love and should be regarded as such,” Nelson recently told Esquire.

We Are Bellingcat by Eliot Higgins

We Are Bellingcat by Eliot Higgins

Bellingcat bills itself as the people’s security agency, and it’s used a combination of old-fashioned journalistic nous and crowdsourced intelligence and assessment to publish investigations into the most inscrutable events and most hostile organizations – the downing of MH17, the Skripal poisoning, the Christchurch shootings – over the last seven years. Founder Eliot Higgins tells the story of how a group of self-taught sleuths and amateur debunkers came together over the internet to form one of the world’s most important bulwarks against disinformation, as well as the tools and technology that allowed Bellingcat to extract every byte of information from seemingly innocuous clues.

Luster by Ravel Leilani

Raven Leilani reads from her own amazing, darkly comic debut novel about Edie, a young Black woman working in a dead-end job in New York who slowly becomes entangled in the sort-of-open marriage of a middle-aged white archivist. Edie’s descriptions of hook-ups and entanglements have a deliriously sensual edge, as the clever title suggests.

“The first bits of the novel for me were the body and its wants, and the untidy way those demands appear,” Leilani recently told Esquire. “Edie is a young Black lady who longs to be touched and seen,” says the author. Leilani’s reading is the perfect method to get a sense of Edie’s private life’s tremendous proximity.

Soul Tourists by Bernardine Evaristo

Stanley Williams, a bored banker, wonders if trekking to and from his desk every day is all that life has to give him. He then runs into Jessie at a nightclub. Jessie is a loose cannon and a livewire, and before long, she and Stanley are on a road trip across Europe. But this isn’t a gap year schlepp from hostel to hostel, as it turns out. They meet the spirits of some of the great Black Europeans along the way: Mary Seacole, Hannibal of Carthage, Alessandro de Medici of Florence, and others make their presence known as Stanley and Jessie embark on an odyssey through life, death, and all in between. Bernardine Evaristo’s 2005 novel Girl, Woman, Other employs a magpie-like style to narrative, blending screenplays with poems, prose, and anything else comes to hand. Evaristo, Vivienne Acheampong (who you may recognize from Famalam), and Kayi Ushe narrate.

Shakespeare: The Complete Works

Look, you’ve suddenly found yourself with a lot more free time. You almost likely have the time to devote 99 hours to this collection of freshly digitized renditions of all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays, recorded throughout the twentieth century. Ian McKellen (clearly), Derek Jacobi (obviously), Diana Rigg (obviously), and many more knights and dames of the realm are among the Marlowe Dramatic Society and Professional Players represented here. You won’t have to put up with anyone in the audience guffawing at the jokes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream just to prove that they understand them.

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