Do the Audiobook #1: How to Enjoy Listening to Audiobooks + Seven Audiobooks to Try

Do You Like Audiobooks?

Welcome to a new-ish series in which I share the excellent audiobooks I’ve been listening to. In the past, I shared a list of books I thought were better as audiobooks. That’s what I’ll be continuing in this series! But, as a plus, with each post, I’ll share something helpful about using audiobooks. So, whether you have questions about how to enjoy listening to audiobooks, audiobook apps, best memoirs on audio, etc., I’ve got you covered.

If you’re new to audiobooks, it may take a while to get into them, but once you do, you’re hooked! However, as I always say, some of the best books may not make for the best audiobooks. This is because so many factors make audiobooks enjoyable.

How to Enjoy Listening to Audiobooks

A few things that need to be just right for an audiobook to shine include:

  1. The story. The right story may make even a poor audiobook narrator tolerable. I certainly experienced that with Christina June’s No Place Like Here.
  2. How skilled the narrator is; they shouldn’t just be “reading” you the book. Audiobook narration is essentially acting!
  3. The structure/genre of the book. Books written entirely in emails or text messages make for poor audiobook experiences. I’ve also struggled with books lacking a chronological order of events, because it’s just harder to keep track of things. The same applies to books with an overwhelming number of characters narrated by one person — the worst.
  4. What you do while you listen. It’s just easier to listen when your hands are busy. Unless your audiobook is GRIPPING, it’s hard to just sit still while you listen. Doing chores, working on a mindless/monotonous task on your computer, or even driving are things better suited for audiobook listening.
  5. Be patient. The fact is that it takes time and some people just process words better on a page than via audio. I built my listening strength and focus by starting with fun memoirs and eventually building to being able to listen to literary fiction on audio!
Wanna get into audiobooks? Check out these five tips for enjoying audiobooks and see seven of the best audiobooks to start with. Click To Tweet

Do the Audiobook: The Best Audiobooks of 2019 So Far

Now, for this edition’s recommendations. These seven books are undoubtedly excellent books (I’ve either rated them four or five stars on Goodreads). But, to me, they’re all are especially memorable because I listened to them on audio. I still remember the narrator’s voice when I think of the story, and in stories where the characters have an accent as do the narrators, this is priceless.


the best audiobooks do the audiobook graphic

Where the Crawdads Sing

You might be under a rock if you haven’t heard about this achingly beautiful debut novel.

Blurb: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Why do the audiobook? The narrator, Cassandra Campbell, NAILS the Southern accent and has a gift of making each character sound unique. I still remember Tate’s “voice,” even though technically, there’s only one narrator — and she’s female. If you’re looking for a moving, lyrical book with an unforgettable voice, this is your pick.

best audiobooks where the crawdads sing

Spin

I loved this YA book by Lamar Giles. It does take a while to get into and features some social media posts which is a bit annoying on audio (I can’t get “hashtag ParSecNation”) out of my head). But the mystery is compelling and unique.

Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Paris Secord’s (aka DJ ParSec) career–and life–has come to an untimely end, and the local music scene is reeling. No one is feeling the pain more than her shunned pre-fame best friend, Kya, and Paris’s chief groupie, Fuse. But suspicion trumps grief, and since each suspects the other of Paris’s murder, they’re locked in a high-stakes game of public accusations and sabotage.

Why do the audiobook? As a book with three female characters and three POVs, it is wonderful that this book has THREE unique narrators. It also helps a lot that two of them are narrators I love: Bahni Turpin and Sisi Aisha Johnson. The third narrator is Shawana Carter. 10/10 would recommend.

spin lamar giles best audiobooks

Searching for Sylvie Lee

I feel like this book comes up in every post now — just check out my June roundup. But Searching for Sylvie Lee is a well-done novel. And the audiobook certainly elevates it a notch.

Blurb: Searching for Sylvie Lee is a poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women—two sisters and their mother—in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears, and a series of family secrets emerge.

Why do the audiobook? As with Spin, it also features three narrators for each of the three POVs, and I absolutely loved the narrator for Ma. Narrators are Angela Lin, Samantha Quan, and Caroline Mclaughlin. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the book as much if I’d read it.

searching for sylvie lee cover


To Be Honest

If you’re new to audiobooks, YA novels are a nice starting point and this body-positive novel is lovely. The narrator is lively without being annoying and makes it easy to distinguish between the characters.

Blurb: Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.

Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own.

Why do the audiobook? This funny, but poignant YA novel will keep you engaged.

to be honest best audiobooks

Three Things About Elsie

I actually received this book as an ARC, but couldn’t get into in until I tried the audio. So, for some massive books which I never think I’ll have enough sit-down-reading time for, I just do the audiobook. And, I loved this one!

Blurb: Eighty-four-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, she wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light. If the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago?

Why do the audiobook? Fantastic British audiobook narrator whose voice stimulates empathy for the main character.

three things about elsie best audiobooks

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

This book is incredible. With one of the most remarkable (no pun intended) protagonists I’ve read in a while, TRJOCS handles dying, grief, and family excellently. It’s one of those books that brings your heart joy even while it’s breaking it.

Blurb:  Five years.

That’s how long Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, have lived on the road in an old school bus, criss-crossing the nation.

It’s also how long ago Coyote lost her mom and two sisters in a car crash.

Coyote hasn’t been home in all that time, but when she learns that the park in her old neighborhood is being demolished—the very same park where she, her mom, and her sisters buried a treasured memory box—she devises an elaborate plan to get her dad to drive 3,600 miles back to Washington state in four days…without him realizing it.

Along the way, they’ll pick up a strange crew of misfit travelers. Lester has a lady love to meet. Salvador and his mom are looking to start over. Val needs a safe place to be herself. And then there’s Gladys…

Why do the audiobook? The narrator is spot on with the twang and sass that brings Coyote to life. This one’s an experience.


A Woman Is No Man

This book was another one basically everyone must have read by now. I was so happy to do the audio for this one. Overall, Etaf Rum’s debut is immersive and heartbreaking.

Blurb: Three generations of Palestinian-American women living in Brooklyn are torn between individual desire and the strict mores of Arab culture in this powerful debut – a heart-wrenching story of love, intrigue, courage, and betrayal that will resonate with women from all backgrounds, giving voice to the silenced and agency to the oppressed.

Why do the audiobook? Three excellent narrators (Ariana Delawari, Dahlia Salem, and Susan Nezami) for each of the three POVs. This book is so alive with the narration — I couldn’t imagine having read it better myself. 

a woman is no man best audiobooks

There they are — seven books I’d rather you listened to on audio than read. Honestly, these are some of the best audiobooks out there, with brilliant #ownvoices narrators for the most part. I’m so glad they could enrich my experience of the book, more than I would’ve just by reading the text! I hope the tips I shared will help you enjoy listening to audiobooks.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Which are some of your best audiobooks so far? What is your main struggle with audiobooks? I’d love to know!

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2 thoughts on “Do the Audiobook #1: How to Enjoy Listening to Audiobooks + Seven Audiobooks to Try

  1. Great post! I’ve been trying to get more into audiobooks — it does seem like it takes practice! I did recently listen to the middle grade book The War that Saved My Life on audio and enjoyed that one quite a bit.

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