Since I have started this blog I haven’t really reviewed many books that I have listened to as audiobooks. Back in 2012, I became a member of audible.com and this has helped me to squeeze in some bonus ‘reading’ time when I am in the car or out for a jog. I love listening to audiobooks because they really give you a sense of the story in a much different way from reading hard copy does. On the other hand, reviewing a book based on a listen doesn’t do the book justice as it is much harder to use quotes and flick back through pages. Next year, I am going to spend a lot more time filling you in on what I am listening to. Here are my top ten listens from 2016!
- Cannery Row (John Steinbeck) Duration: 5hrs 59mins I read East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath in 2015 and wanted to pick off some of Steinbeck’s smaller books in audiobook form. Cannery Row is very different to the aforemented classic Steinbeck works. Here, Steinbeck paints a picture of neighbourhood life in Monterey Bay and we hear about a series of hilarious events featuring ‘Doc’ and ‘Mack and the boys.’ Jerry Fardern does a great job narrating the story and gives each character a unique voice and feel.
- The Night Walker (Sebastian Fitzek) Duration: 7hrs 32mins I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this one. Audible previously released a high production value edition of Fitzek’s The Child and that brought me here. The story is bizarre to say the least and really dsorientates the reader throughout until all the loose ends are tied up at the conclusion. The main character does not know if he is asleep or awake for most of the book and when he sleepwalks he does the most ununusal things! great list if you like psychological thrillers.
- The Spinning Heart (Donal Ryan) Duration: 4hrs 48mins My most recent listen and one of my favourites this year. Wayne Farrell reads brilliantly throughout this dark commentary of Ireland during the recent recession. Each chapter offers and different character and thus a different perspective as we see the daily struggle and strain take its toll on husbands, wives, children, builders, guards, etc. In many ways this book is the opposite of Cannery Row and it is a excellent time capsule of what life was like for those who endured the economic collapse of the early century.
- When Breath Becomes Air (Paul Kalanithi) Duration: 5hrs 35mins An amazing piece of non-fiction that tells the story of neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi’s struggle and ultimate succumbent to cancer. Books like these are written to be listened to and I really felt like Kalanithi was talking to me directly. This book is also a celebration of the written word as Kalanithi was an avid reader himself with high hopes of one day becoming an author. This book ensures that his legacy will never be forgotten.
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami) Duration: 4hrs 25ins I love Murakami’s work and I am also a runner myself so I jumped at a chance to learn more about the man behind the books. Murakami’s writing style makes this is a nice, easy listen as he offers his thoughts on running, writing, life in Japan and much more.
- Midnight Sun (Jo Nesbo) Duration: 5hrs 55mins When I first heard Kim Gordon’s voice narrating this story about a wayward hitman, I was sceptical. But from early on it is clear that her dry, sardonic tone suits the characters perfectly. This book is technically a sequel to Nesbo’s Blood On Snow even though it does not really continue any plot threads of note. I like these two shorter works by Nesbo because he has alot more fun with them than seen in the Harry Hole novels and they are great listens as audiobooks.
- Beatlebone (Kevin Barry) Duration: 6hrs 44mins This books is quite possibly my favourite book that I own. I was at the launch of this book in Dublin and few years ago and got to meet and greet the author. He also did a short reading that night so when I saw that he had narrated the audibook I snapped it up straight away. I would strongly recommend that you read it first to fully savour Barry’s prose. Then sit back and listen to the same tale in Barry’s haunting voice.
- The Narrow Road To The Deep North (Richard Flangan) Duration: 14hrs 59mins A monster listen and much longer than I normally commit to. However, this did win the Man Booker in 2014 so I wanted to tick it off my TBR list. The POW scenes in this book are intriguing to listen to and I really enjoyed the beginning where the narrator recounts his early life. I did find the ending to be a bit weaker but this was a good listen nonetheless.
- A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms (George RR Martin) Duration: 10hrs I love Harry Lloyd’ jaunty English accent in this one as he tells us three tales about Duck and Egg’s adventures in the Seven Kingdoms. It has been a long time since I finished all the books in the Game Of Thrones series so this was a nice stopgap.
- The Draining Lake (Arnaldur Indridason) Duration: 9hrs 50mins This was my third listen to a book from the Icelandic Detective series featuring the grumpy Erlendur. George Guidall’s husky voice really suits the character of Erlendur and once again Indridason crafts a solid tale of mystery interspersed with flashbacks. If you enjoy Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series, this series should be your next stopoff point.
- The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy: A companion novel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce writes another heartwarming story that tells us more about Queenie Hennessy and her relationship with Harold. Not as strong as the other book in the series, but a nice read all the same with a different yet similar vibe.
- The Man In The High Castle: I know that this is a classic and now a successful Amazon television series, but I wouldn’t rave about it. The concept of the story is cool and some of the characters are memorable but I was disappointed that it never really took off as I imagined it would.
- Sweet Thursday: The sequel to Cannery Row is entertaining but does not live up to it’s predecessors wit and charm. It was nice to revisit the same neighbourhood and characters but I found it harder to relate to this work.