What are You Listening to?

by Emily Z.

Yes, you. What audiobook are you listening to that is really doing it for you? We genuinely want to know. Is it something you’ve read before? A new author? How did you come across it? What piqued your interest? Is the narrator absolutely bringing it?

Quite a few of us at Sno-Isle Libraries adore audiobooks. We don’t consider it “cheating,” either. Audiobooks are a great use of your brain’s time. I use them to fill up my commute and also listen while doing chores, going for a walk, and sometimes even as I’m falling asleep. So yes, I am personally very much Team Free Audiobook.

To get this party started, we’ve gathered up a bunch of recommendations from different library staff. These titles are as diverse as we are, so I’m just going to put them in alphabetical order by title (it’s a library thing) and let you explore. Don’t forget to comment with your current audiobook crush though, even if you’ve just started it.


Between Them: Remembering My Parents by Richard Ford

 Pulitzer Prize winner Ford talks about his traveling salesman father and in-charge mother. Do we really ever know our parents, especially if one dies before we are an adult? Were they happy? Was Richard happy growing up? Richard’s answer is yes. His success as a writer has allowed him to honor his parents with this short memoir. Suggested by Becky B.


Doc by Mary Doria Russell 

I’m listening to this for our Beyond Bestsellers: Western theme. I loved this author’s The Sparrow, which was just so philosophical considering ethics of culture that I was curious what she’d do with familiar characters in a Western setting. Thus far, I’m enjoying the lawless Dodge setting that initially throws all these legendary characters together. Russell is fantastic at creating characters with depth and conflicting motivations and that’s a great place to start for both the Wild West, and in first contact as with “The Sparrow.” Suggested by Jackie P.

Dog Years by Mark Doty

I am currently listening to “Dog Years” by Mark Doty, read by the author. The poetic style in this memoir is sublime, and only eclipsed by the beautiful, quotable, philosophical observations of the author’s endearing and heartbreaking relationship with his dying partner Wally, and his lifeboats Beau and Arden, his two dogs. Suggested by Jenny S.


Ghostland by Colin Dickey

Dickey explores supernatural legends from all across the U.S., taking a close look at the communities and historical periods that birthed them. He focuses on the patterns he notices, how our ghost stories are evolving, and even does a bit of debunking. Did you know there was once a significant connection between early American spiritualism and feminism? Ever noticed the prevalence of Caucasian ghosts in regions better known for significant African American strife? Care to consider what new ghosts will manifest alongside our technology-driven society? “Ghostland” is about ghosts, but it’s also very much about the living. Suggested by Emily Z.



Pompeii by Robert Harris

When newly-promoted water engineer Marcus Attilius Primus comes to Pompeii to discover what’s wrong with an aqueduct, he finds far more than clogged pipes. Our upstanding hero discovers political machinations, runs afoul of a wealthy man who is well-known for his cruelty, and falls in love. Oh, and the oddly flat Mt. Vesuvius is rumbling in a disconcerting manner. Can Attilius save the girl – and himself – or are they destined to become frozen in time in the impending eruption? The narrator’s British accent is contributing greatly to my overall enjoyment of this fast-paced, suspenseful historical novel. Suggested by Marie B.

Reamde by Neal Stephenson

Action-packed, intriguing in every sense, world-ranging, and featuring a wide variety of original, diverse characters, Reamde is the perfect combination of cyber science fiction, gamer geekdom, and international spy novel. Narrated with subtle flair by Malcolm Hilgartner. Save for a cross-country trip or dedicated time period. Suggested by Darren N.

 The Secret Life of Fat by Sylvia Tara

Skillfully narrated by the author, I was not expecting to become as engrossed in a book about fat as I did. It was fascinating how fat could be and do so many things, and so differently for different people. The case studies explored in the book examined how fat responded to certain factors. It really makes you look at how not only your genetic makeup but your gender, your environment and your lifestyle can really shape how fat interacts with you and your body. This book also offers a lot of insight on different ways to combat fat, how there are good fats and bad fats, how it’s an organ, how fluctuations in your weight can cause (or limit) certain biological functions, and how to embrace the fat so it works for and with you. Suggested by Marina M.



The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This whirlwind of a YA book is told primarily from two perspectives and both narrators are excellent, not only nuanced in their performances, but extremely well-cast. Natasha is our female lead and hails from Jamaica, but moved to the U.S. as a young girl. She meets Daniel, a first-generation Korean American, in New York city where they spend a wild day together and find themselves falling in love. Yoon wastes no time getting the story rolling between these vivid characters, which is good as Natasha is facing deportation and isn’t sure how long she and Daniel have to be together. Suggested by Abby B.

The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

The creator of the ShondaLand TGIT empire on ABC has a smart, funny memoir about working motherhood, taking risks, and making time for yourself. It’s narrated by the author and it comes across no-nonsense like Olivia Pope talking to one of her gladiators at Pope & Associates. You don’t need to be a “Scandal” or “Grey’s Anatomy” fan to say yes to this book. Suggested by Danielle Dreger-Babbitt.

 Books in a Series

Spells, Swords, & Stealth Series by Drew Hayes

This series offers a fresh twist on the high-fantasy adventure genre. Not only does Hayes let the normally minor, background characters take center stage, they start breaking down the wall between their world and ours almost immediately. This motley crew of half-orc, humans, and a gnome use the fake-it-‘til-you-make it route to Adventurer status and just happen to uncover an ancient, trans-dimensional conspiracy. Along the way, each character grows considerably as they work to find their ideal role within the party (being the biggest in the group doesn’t automatically make you the best barbarian warrior). Above all, this series is a love letter to tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons. Suggested by Emily Z.



Book 1: NPCs
Book 2: Split the Party
Book 3: Going Rogue

Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers

Right now I’m totally enamored with Becky Chambers’ “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” and its companion “A Closed and Common Orbit”. Not only are these really enjoyable science-fiction, but the characters are so wonderful. The first takes place in a tiny spaceship, with a crew that doesn’t always see eye to eye, but really come together as family. The second is about what happens when the beloved AI from the ship loses her memory, and is given a chance at a new life…on a planet. If you like sci-fi with lots of feeling, get these audiobooks ASAP! Suggested by Dawn R.



Book 1: The Long Way to a Small Angry, Planet
Book 2: A Closed and Common Orbit

If you’re looking for something to listen to, and none of the above or anything in the comments strike your fancy, peruse the audiobooks available now on OverDrive in Fiction and/or Non-Fiction. You can limit to genres you like in the sidebar. Right now, of course, we also encourage you to listen to a Western. American Meteor & Journal of the Gun Years are good options!



11 responses to “What are You Listening to?”

  1. Gloria says:

    I love love audiobooks- but they HAVE to have good readers! I listen during the almost always terrible commutes of Seattle- I just take a deep breath and tell myself- “Just relax. Looks like we will make it through another chapter.” I am currently listening to “No Appearent Distress” by Rachel Pearson. Recommend right here from this new blog! The reader is amazing, and the memoir is funny, smart, sad, and I have passed on the title to two other folks and I haven’t even finished it!
    I also loved the teen(?!) fiction “the sun is also a star” recommended above and happen to “read” it as commuting audio. Another title that I passed on to two others!
    I am a huge reader- always have a couple of book going, all across genera. I mostly read read my books, but there are so many books and so little time, I am very happy to have audios to keep those opportunities maxed!

    • Emily Z says:

      Thanks for the comment and the recommendation! I am looking at the description for “No Apparent Distress” right now and it sounds fascinating, though yes, quite sad. I will make the necessary emotional preparations as I put myself in the queue for it.

      I completely agree about the reader being a factor in my enjoyment of audiobooks too! It does have an impact on the story, sometimes good and sometimes less so.

      • Gloria says:

        Oh- I am a total snob about the reader of an audiobook. There have been too many great ones in my life for me to accept anybody mediocre! If I have grabbed a few audiobooks with readers I do not know- I will always take at least two/three different books in the car with me – so if one has a bad reader I can reject immediately and switch to next.

  2. Jackie P. says:

    I *adored* The Sun is Also a Star. The narration is simply wonderful. There may have been some tears wrung at the end – but more because the ending was perfect than anything else. Just perfect. Best audio I listened to in 2016.

  3. Julie T says:

    I’m enjoying “The War that Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. A sweet story that’s full of surprises. Learning about life in England during WWII through a girl’s unique perspective.

    • Emily Z says:

      That sounds fantastic! I do not think I will ever get sick of WWII historical fiction, but the stories about everyday life are my absolute favorite within that sub-genre. It also sounds as though it has some complex characters. Thanks!

  4. Serena S says:

    I’m listening to The Other Alcott, the debut novel of Seattle author Elise Hooper. May Alcott, Louisa’s youngest sister, was an aspiring artist. Narrated by Cassandra Campbell, who is one of my favorite narrators, she has such a smooth, easy to listen to voice. Other books narrated by her that I have enjoyed and would recommend are: The Daring Ladies of Lowell; The Gilded Hour; America’s First Daughter; and The Art of Hearing Heartbeats.

    • Emily Z says:

      Ok, that also sounds great. I might have to go on a historical-fiction audiobook binge. The sibling rivalry, examination of a famous family (a famous literary family, no less), and theme of finding oneself are definitely appealing. Not to mention, I totally agree re: Cassandra Campbell. She narrated Bird Box too (a very different sort of book, but suitably unsettling for the fall), which demanded an excellent narrator and she delivered.

  5. ann gibson says:

    I L-O-V-E audiobooks! I no longer “read” books, I listen while doing most everything.
    I will listen to anything read by Grover Gardener.
    Christian Rodska’s narrative of Lindsey Davis’ Falco series is spot on.
    Joe Montegna’s reading of Robert Parker’s Spencer series is such a pleasure to listen to, I am dragging out finishing the series.
    Simon Vance is a true professional.
    I find that sometimes the reader makes or breaks the book.

    • Emily Z says:

      Yeah, I am more or less at that point too; if I’m going to read anything in a timely fashion it needs to be pre-recorded. I mean, I can’t exactly hold a book while I’m also repainting the kitchen, bedroom, and dining room (I’m doing a lot of painting right now). I’m glad you’re finding so many great narrators too! George Guidall and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith the narrators I find most recognizable and memorable thus far. I know I like some others, but I’m still learning their names. There really should be an IMDB-like website for audibook narrators by now. The closest equivalent I’ve found is the Audible site, although you can also sometimes search by narrator on the OverDrive catalog too.

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