8 audiobooks to listen to now
Whether you have 38 minutes or 14 hours, these audiobooks are sure to immerse, enlighten, and possibly terrify you.
Blood Orange Night: My Journey to the Edge of Madness
By Melissa Bond. Read by author.
Bond recently learned that her infant son has Down syndrome, that she is pregnant with her second child and that she was fired, when one night she stops sleeping. She attributes this to stress and her “geriatric” pregnancy, but the insomnia persists after the birth of her daughter. “Maybe I have an hour. Maybe I have 30 minutes or 10 or 12,” Bond says, his voice a well of desperation for the duration of this engrossing audiobook. head against the wall of terror that it happens again, that it never ends and that I become psychotic and have this feeling of glass in my body forever.”
Bond tries everything she can safely take during pregnancy and then breastfeeding – valerian root tea, yoga, Ambien – and nothing works for long, if at all. By the time she meets “Dr. Incredible,” we know things will get worse before they get better. Soon, she’s taking six milligrams of Ativan every night (“when you have grand mal seizures in wards). emergency, people are injected with two milligrams,” she explains, for scale). also double as a kind of true crime story.
Hearing his son utter his first sentence at age 3½, about the breakdown of his marriage, about the facts of this lesser-known class of pharmaceutical addiction, about the sheer anguish of his withdrawal, Bond’s dogged self-analysis is like a skewer through it. own heart – and ours.
Simon & Schuster Audio, 9 hours, 18 minutes
Olive grove at Ends
By Moses McKenzie. Read by Louis McKenzie.
McKenzie’s early adulthood is set in a neighborhood of Bristol, England, which locals call “Ends” – referring to the ends of the Earth, perhaps, or the end of its rope; or, as the narrator assumes, simply “trying to make ends meet”. British Jamaican high school student Sayon Hughes has a crush on a pastor’s daughter, works hard in class and dreams of one day owning a house on a hill outside the city.
But in early adulthood, as his predominantly Jamaican-Somali neighborhood “diluted” with whites, Sayon grew jaded with the upward mobility lie, started dealing drugs, even committed a murder to defend his family. Slipping effortlessly between the layered accents and the patois of this community, Louis McKenzie reads his brother’s moving but precise prose – at a carnival “insignificant dreads stood on PA systems bawling a crude patois to no one in particular”; a drunken couple “spilled in the way like cornmeal on the side of a pan” – with a badass tenor who periodically crackles to reveal the pure heart beneath Sayon’s impure actions.
Little, Brown & Company, 9 hours, 49 minutes
By John Grisham. Read by Jeff Daniels, Ethan Hawke and January LaVoy.
Grisham says he wrote these three rare short story-length legal thrillers while “stuck at home with Covid,” and they feel suitably straightforward and entertaining for listeners who might find themselves in a similar situation. In “Homecoming,” Daniels harnesses his recent incarnation of Atticus Finch to revive Grisham’s longtime lawyer hero Jake Brigance, now engulfed in the extralegal fate of an old friend who has disappeared. Hawke reads “Strawberry Moon,” about a death row inmate who has only three hours to live; and acclaimed audiobook narrator LaVoy reads the title story following two brothers – heirs to their imprisoned father’s law firm – and the one person who might be able to save them from mutual destruction. Expert voice acting makes these latest additions to a long work worthwhile.
Random House Audio, 9 hours, 57 minutes
A Huge World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us
By Ed Yong. Read by author.
“Umwelt”: Derived from the German word for “environment,” the zoological term doesn’t just mean an animal’s environment, the Pulitzer-winning science writer clarifies in his quietly authoritative Oxbridge accent, but “specifically the part of this environment that an animal can feel and experience – its perceptual world.” After devoting his 2016 book, “I Contain Multitudes,” to the trillions of microbes that make up the human body, Yong now turns his attention to the rest of the animal kingdom, dismissing our human tendency to anthropomorphize other animals, to frame their capacities and behaviors “according to our senses rather than theirs”.
Instead, Yong spends chapter after chapter delving deep into the vast array of sensory perception across the animal kingdom, from a dog’s sense of smell to the “exceptional sensitivity of a barn owl’s hearing” to high tolerance of hibernating ground squirrels to freezing temperatures. Revealing the limits of human understanding, this humbling tour will leave you in awe of the part of the world we cannot know.
Random House Audio, 14 hours, 18 minutes
By Lisa Taddeo. Read by a full cast.
In nine stories that swirl around unsavory female protagonists, the author of “Three Women” and “Animal” paints a portrait of contemporary white femininity rooted in celebrity culture, consumerism and narcissistic self-hatred. A “not hot” Los Angeles entrepreneur is famous for her successful ghost business texts for would-be lovers – while failing to maintain a relationship herself. Three women fight for the attention of a politician during a fundraiser at his Los Angeles mansion. A middle-aged Irish immigrant falls madly in love with a fictional man on an invite-only dating app. Ultimately unnecessary and yet – or therefore – guiltily entertaining, these amoral tales are thin enough to take on vacation; although some disturbing stories pop up to give the listener something to cling to.
Simon & Schuster Audio, 6 hours, 56 minutes
Choice: A short story
By Jodi Picoult. Read by Therese Plummer.
A divorced man named James wakes up on the most important morning of his career to find himself several months pregnant. He is not alone; he finds a Dallas emergency clinic teeming with cisgender men at various stages of pregnancy, showing symptoms of nausea and abdominal distention. News anchors report that the phenomenon has surpassed 50 states, half of which have already abandoned abortion care after the reversal of Roe v. Wade. “But I don’t want a baby,” James told the obstetrician. “You probably should have thought of that before you had sex,” she replies emphatically. A speculative podcast-length fable, “Choice” is read by professional narrator Plummer, whose voice moves nimbly between dull confusion in James’s head and acute knowledge of the female characters around him, with a introductory note read by the author. .
Audible originals, 38 minutes
One Person, One Vote: A Surprising History of Gerrymandering in America
By Nick Seabrook. Read by Reynaldo Piniella.
Seabrook’s lucid account of the origins and evolution of gerrymandering — the deliberate, partisan manipulation of district boundaries for electoral purposes — makes a potentially dry and wonky subject matter accessible and engaging for a broad audience. In the Massachusetts gubernatorial election of 1812, the incumbent, Elbridge Gerry (pronounced, says Seabrook, with a hard G), attempted to secure re-election by drawing a “meandering and misshapen” senatorial district around the Essex County, where he knew his “Federalist enemies” were planning a coup. The public pamphlet followed and the term was born.
But though not yet named, the actual practice of gerrymandering dates back further to a “thin-skinned and intemperate” governor of colonial North Carolina in the 1730s, and long before that to the sleazy British tradition. post-Magna Carta “rotten boroughs”. Actor Piniella’s tone is suitably spirited and sometimes even biting, like a kind expert sniffing out a rat.
Random house audio, 12 hours, 25 minutes
Be My Baby: A Memoir
By Ronnie Spector with Vince Waldron. Read by Rosie Perez.
In this new recording of the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s 1990 memoir – which includes a 2021 postscript written by the author before his death in January, as well as a new introduction by Keith Richards – the actress and activist Rosie Perez takes us back to the 1960s heyday of the Ronettes, the all-female trio from Washington Heights, New York who toured with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Lead singer, Veronica Bennett, became Ronnie Spector when she married the band’s producer, Phil Spector, who controlled and abused her for years. Channeled through Perez’s New York accent, Spector recounts her resilient battle to escape her husband’s grip and return to her own. In the vein of the HBO documentary “Tina,” this audiobook is heartbreaking and inspiring.
Macmillan Audio, 10 hours, 43 minutes
Lauren Christensen is an editor at Book Review.