“Books On Tape.” Yup, we used to call them that, and they were rare and bulky and if you didn’t get them from the library, kind of expensive. Audiobooks were more trouble than they were worth. Audible(sic) sigh….oh how times have changed and how accessible listening to audiobooks has become.
For me, what hasn’t changed is the feeling that one should limit the listening experience to audiobooks of non-fiction, read mostly by the author or voiced by a great actor. Why? Good question. Mostly, it is because I am a snob and think that writers of fiction would prefer that readers literally READ their work, eyes on paper or if one must, on an e- reader. Now, I don’t have any evidence to support this claim, this is merely a “feeling” and since this is my list and I am only going to name eight great books on tape, I won’t have any trouble sticking to non-fiction…with one small but riveting deviation.
Jeremy Irons reading Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh , all 11 hours and 33 minutes of it, is the most theatrical experience one can have outside of a theater. Never mind that it is a book, it is an experience, one that you should plan for with a long drive complete with picnic hamper, sherry and a handkerchief.
Anthony Bordain reading his memoir, Kitchen Confidential is wonderful .If ever anyone needed to be reminded how hard it is to be a chef with ambition and brains and then there are the sounds of Anthony, much missed man of the world.
Trevor Noah reading his memoir Born A Crime. We all know that Noah is a great satirist spinner of news and culture, but what you might not know are the details of his mixed race, parentage, wild early days and climb out of an impoverished youth in Soweto. This is a fascinating story told with humor and emotion. Noah’s mother is a badass and he honors her(we like that.)
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. This book doesn’t track like the exhaustively researched tome that it is. This book is more like the gift of a great imagination. What a life! Walter Isaacson reads his brilliant book in a lovely New Orleans lilt.
Becoming by Michelle Obama is probably the book on tape of the year. To hear Michelle (first name basis) tell the story of her accomplished life, without a whiff of hubris is another reason why we love her.
Bossypants by Tina Fey. She a scamp and a vamp and no, not nearly a tramp, but she is funny and brilliant and so real about her rise from nerd to boss that we spilt sides laughing. Perhaps better for listening near a gas station or rest stop.
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Get from here to there and be inspired . Learning how to let love in is easier as she translates some “woo-woo” about vulnerability into a language even the most new-age averse can absorb. We all ove Ms. Brown, her grit, her thinking and her voice.
From The Corner of the Oval a memoir by Beck-Dorey Stein who was working five post college part-time jobs when she answered a Craigslist ad for a stenographer. A few weeks later, Stein was ensconced outside Obama’s Oval Office. Described as “Bridget Jones Goes to the White House” this is every bit as entertaining as a rom-com and a lot illuminating about the everyday workings of a political press machine.
Shop our selection of audiobooks below:
All of our recommendations are curated by Susan & the In The Groove editorial team. In some, but not all cases, we receive a small commission for leading you to what, how and where to buy all this wonderful stuff.