02 April 2020

    Megan Ellis

    The best audio books to listen to

    We look at the best audiobooks to listen to: not only in terms of their’ plots, but the success of the narrators in telling these tales...

    Audiobooks are a great way to enjoy novels while on the go or when you’re unable to focus on written text. But they’re not only functional -- the way a narrator tells a story can also deepen the immersion and bring the story to life.

    Here are some of the best audiobooks -- both in terms of plot and narration -- that you can listen to...

    Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

    Narrated by Justine Eyre

    Zinzi December has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit, and a talent for finding lost things. But when a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job: missing persons.

    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

    Narrated by Elisabeth Moss and others

    The Handmaid’s Tale audiobook capitalises on the HBO series’ success by enlisting star Elisabeth Moss to narrate the novel. From the get-go, Moss’s narration is powerful and channels the quiet desperation of protagonist Offred. This haunting story is truly brought to life by its audio version, with other series cast members such as Bradley Whitford and Ann Dowd also featured as narrators.

    Know My Name by Chanel Miller

    Narrated by Chanel Miller

    It’s only appropriate that Chanel Miller narrates the book she wrote -- after all, the entire reason behind penning it was to tell her own story. Miller was at the center of the 2016 criminal case against Brock Turner -- but at the time, she was known only as Emily Doe. The case made shockwaves when Turner was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault but only sentenced to six months in prison. While her victim impact statement didn’t persuade the trial’s judge to hand down a more appropriate sentence, it went viral online for its powerful message and even inspired changes to Californian law. Able to weave visceral metaphors amid so much pain, Miller delivers her excellent writing with the sincere, haunting voice that can only be achieved when a survivor reclaims her story.


    We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True

    Narrated by Gabriella Union

    In this moving collection of thought-provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humour, Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, colour, gender, feminism, and fame. Union tackles a range of experiences, including bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood, growing up in white California suburbia and then spending summers with her black relatives in Nebraska, coping with crushes, puberty, and the divorce of her parents. Genuine and perceptive, Union bravely lays herself bare, uncovering a complex and courageous life of self-doubt and self-discovery with incredible poise and brutal honesty. Throughout, she compels us to be ethical and empathetic and reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support.

    Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

    Narrated by Trevor Noah

    While we’re used to Trevor Noah’s jokes and comedic nature, Born A Crime taps into the entertainer’s earnest tone while he tells the listener about his upbringing during apartheid South Africa. Noah doesn’t only deal with the realities of being born at a time when interracial relationships were illegal, but also delves into the privileges and problems that stemmed from his mixed heritage.

    On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

    Narrated by Bahni Turpin

    On The Come Up is another bestseller from author Angie Thomas, known for her debut novel The Hate U Giv. This young adult audiobook tells the story of teenager Bri, whose dreams of becoming a famous rapper are juxtaposed with the economic realities of her everyday life. When one of her songs finally gets attention, it’s for the wrong reasons -- and Bri must choose whether she needs to lean into her mischaracterisation by the media to achieve the financial income her family so desperately needs. Bahni Turpin brings Bri’s inner monologue and story to life in a casual but determined voice that makes the book an engaging listen.

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    Megan Ellis