Well, it’s been months since I have posted anything, but it’s been a bit of a whirlwind! Between having baby #2, selling our home, moving to a new state, starting fellowship in Hospice & Palliative Care, and beginning to get my own health and well-being back on track, the blog had to be shifted to the back burner. Sometimes it just happens! I’m happy to be return before the end of 2018 with the list of this year’s audiobooks! I am now three years into my Audible subscription and love it so much! I hope you enjoy this post, and I’d love to hear what your favorite books were this year!
I chose Exit West one because it made President Obama’s list of favorites in 2017. This book is set in an unnamed country on the brink of war. It follows two young lovers who are trying to make it through the tumultuous changes when they discover secret doors which take them to various destinations around the world. The book incorporates magical realism and raises important and timely questions about war, immigrants, and refugees.
The Palace of Illusions rewrites the Hindu epic Mahabarata but with a feminist focus. It is told from the perspective of Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandava brothers. I wanted to like this book far more than I did. I think I got lost in all of the complex Hindu mythology with what seems like an infinite number of characters. Also, I did not love the narrator. However, it would be a great introduction to the Mahabarata!
This book was just WOW. It sits high on the list of my all-time favorite books! It’s not surprising I liked it so much since I absolutely loved “All the Light We Cannot See,” also set during World War II. They both had a similar feel for me, but The Nightingale’s strong female protagonist blew me away. Not only was the story gripping, but the prose was just lovely. This is a book that I want to return to again and again so that I can soak up every last detail and emotion!
After listening to The Nightingale, I was drawn to author Kristin Hannah’s masterful storytelling. Her novel The Great Alone did not disappoint. It planted a harsh family dynamic in an equally harsh landscape of the Alaskan frontier. It was all at once gorgeous, frightening, thrilling, frustrating, and utterly sad. I highly recommend it!
Pachinko to me was reminiscent of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing which I wrote about last year. It is another epic tale following multiple generations, this time of a Korean family living as immigrants in Japan. It really opened my eyes to the injustices and racism the Koreans faced at that time. Though I was never aware of the dynamics between the Koreans and Japanese previously, it seemed to fit the worldwide theme that one group will always find a reason to dislike and discriminate against another group. I found the story to be beautifully written, but I could not emotionally connect with the characters. Don’t get me wrong — I definitely felt for them during some major hardships, but I could not relate fully. I still recommend this book, however, for the story and writing!
This book was a delightful and entertaining departure from the (let’s face it) depressing stories I typically go for. I have zero complaints as it was a fun distraction, and I really loved the major motion picture as well! Shout out to our first husband-wife date sans kids in months!
One word: WHOAH. An unexpected event in the start of the novel sets the tone for the remainder of a newly married couple’s relationship. A fair portion of the book is written as letters between the husband and wife, and it is impressive to note how each person views their marriage as time goes on and as their paths diverge. Additionally, the characters’ African American race adds levels of cultural considerations that are absolutely necessary for this story. I think I am still trying to process the intricacies of everything that passed, and I can see why this was a popular book of 2018.
Tara Westover’s memoir was absolutely mind-blowing. Each chapter sent shock waves and revealed to me just how little I understood about how some people go through life. I shudder to think just how many people share the same thought processes as Tara’s parents. If her father’s tendencies were not disturbing enough, her experiences at the hands of one brother were enough to be in awe that she survived at all. I am completely baffled by how Tara become the woman she is today. If you only read one book this year, this should be it!
This book was short but densely packed with philosophical gems. To be honest, it was too complex for me to grasp totally with just one audiobook listen. This is a book that I need to pick up, read bits of, highlight, underline, re-read, digest, put down, and return to over months, if not years, to truly garner its message.
If you live in present-day America, talk about RELEVANCE. I loved this book! Angie Thomas weaves together multiple heavy-hitting themes including race (which itself was addressed in several story lines and relationships), class, education, occupation, culture, law, media, and on and on! I think every young adult and adult should read this book.
Sci-Fi is usually not the genre I gravitate towards, but after the Brett Kavanaugh vote, I needed this book. Parts of it are almost laughable, and sadly so, because I could never imagine a world in which women are so powerful. Interestingly, their power lies in the ability to physically hurt men, and it’s sad that this is probably the only scenario in which men worldwide could give women the respect women are due. The story is masterful and unsettling, and I appreciate the important message that even a world controlled by women can still experience abuses of power. If you’re in need of some girl power vibes, check this book out.
The Night Circus was absolutely breathtaking. I really loved the narrator who sounded like he himself was from another world in another time. I cannot begin to describe the exquiste detail in which this book is written. I could visualize myself at the night circus, smelling the popcorn, tasting the candy apples, standing in the magical tents, and witnessing the unfolding of two magician competitors’ fates.
It seemed like everyone was talking about this book, and in trying to pay more attention to signs in my day-to-day life, I figured I should give it a listen. This is a great self-help book that goes beyond the basic “10 Steps to a Productive Morning.” I can’t really explain why I liked it so much except to say that is is a great approach to making your vision a reality. Some may find it a little too “woo woo,” but I personally did not get this vibe. It’s a quick listen/read as well.
I’ve never read any of his books before but of course watched countless episodes of his shows. Learning about his origins post-humously was important to me, and it helped to hear his story in his own voice. I was surprised to learn how his love for travel sprang about in adulthood because I assumed he had always been a seasoned traveler. Along with his no-nonsense approach, the qualities that came through were his humor, flair for writing, grit, and hints of frustration with humanity in general.
This woman is queen. The end.
But seriously — I pre-ordered this audiobook earlier in the year and got through it so quickly once it was released! Michelle Obama is a woman of dignity, integrity, affection, strength, intelligence, and contemplation. It’s no secret I love Michelle anyway, as I wrote about her before as a present-day role model. I know it sounds cliche, but Michelle truly provides an uplifting and inspiring tone in our currently tragic political climate.
This book was another entertaining departure from my usual book choices. I haven’t watched the HBO series, but I could see how it could suck you in! It was fun in that it portrayed gossipy parents of young children and their minuscule problems with each other, but it also surprisingly touched on vital topics including bullying, domestic violence, and rape. I’m also a sucker for an Australian accent, so the narration made for an enjoyable listen.
This was my final audiobook of the year. Initially, I felt the story was almost too sad. It was not sad on the order of “The Kite Runner” sad, but sad because I could personally relate to some of the emotions and experiences as an American-born child of immigrant parents. The depiction of how immigrant parents show love versus how their children expect love hit especially close to home. I liked how the story of Amar slowly unfolded, and his life story is revealed in pieces out of chronological order. I liked how the author showed that small sibling betrayals can have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences. I did not enjoy the first narrator that much and felt she was too choppy, but I was surprised when it switched to a male narrator for the latter part of the book to convey a different character’s voice. This part of the book was my favorite, for it filled in gaps and gave this specific character a more human side than previously seen. His perspective was also absolutely heart-breaking, and as a parent, it actually brought me to tears. If you pick this book up and feel it is slow at first, give it more time. I don’t think you will be disappointed in the end.