Best audiobooks we’re listening to right now
“An American Marriage,” Tayari Jones, narrated by Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis (Highbridge Audio)
Powerful narrations by Eisa Davis and Sean Crisden portray the dramatic life situations and responses of three protagonists. Davis gives the view of Celestial, a creative, independent woman who is strongly willful and passionate about her husband. Crisden primarily portrays Roy, Celestial’s husband, who, after just one year of their marriage is unjustly accused of rape and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Anger, resent- ment, regrets, confusion, hurt, and gratitude form a potent emotional mix. The book was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as the first member of her 2018 book club.
“Becoming,” Michelle Obama, read by the author (Random House Audio)
Honesty and evenness characterize the former first lady’s text and reading. Obama writes of all phases of her becoming— from her mother’s support in elementary school, the understanding of racial divides in college, melding her “checking-the-boxes” attitude with her husband’s messy, time-disordered, visionary way of life, and maintaining balance as FLOTUS. Each phase is marked with candor, warmth and wit.
“Belonging,” Nora Krug, read by the author (Simon & Schuster Audio)
Nora Krug’s narration adds to the graphic novel in which she recounted her journey to understand belonging. “How do you know who you are, when you don’t understand where you come from?” she asks. Though Krug recognizes that for Germans, “history was in our blood and shame in our genes,” she courageously embarks on piecing together her family’s involvement with the Nazis. Her German accent increases authenticity.
“Circe,” Madeline Miller, Perdita Weeks (Hachette Audio)
Perdita Weeks brings
about the enchanted merger of classic and contemporary in the tale of the mythic sorceress, Circe. She evokes the emotions and world of the daughter of Helios, the Greek sun god, and his wife, Perse. Circe suffers taunts from her siblings about her weak powers, ugly voice and appearance. Weeks fully embodies Circe, recording the small moments of her child-like sensitivity and kindness, her awe of other gods, her lonely expulsion which grows her power and strength.
“Educated,” Tara Westover, read by Julia Whelan (Random House Audio)
Westover’s memoir celebrates her resilience and desire to learn. In my review last year, I wrote that the uncommon combination of distance and subdued emotion of both writer and reader gives listeners an unusual experiential vantage point. It is the listener who feels gut-wrenched at painful moments and soaring hope in brighter times.
“The Library Book,” Susan Orlean (Simon and Schuster Audio)
Susan Orlean leads listeners on an amazing journey, with her engaging detours and strong central subject, this time about the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles’ Central Library. Orlean delves into so many subjects – how li- brarians load books, their caring for patrons way beyond their genre choices, ensuring immigrants’ needs are met and interviewing the family of the mysterious Harry Peak, the arson suspect, and her own history with libraries and books.
“To Die But Once,” by Jacqueline Winspear; read by Orlagh Cassidy (Harper Audio)
In this 14th Maisie Dobbs mystery, Cassidy expresses a wide range of emotions and a rich variety of accents, and Winspear’s writing stays fresh. The English psychologist-sleuth is investigating in 1940’s Britain, giving a personal view of the horrors of Dunkirk, secret British contracts related to the war effort and finally, the adoption of an orphaned evacuee child who needs a mother as much as Maisie needs her.
“An American Marriage” is an Oprah book club pick.