I love to read and books have always been a very important part of my life. I read to learn new things; sometimes to gain new knowledge but more often to experience a new perspective. I feel like books are also a great way to go on adventures or to take a quick “brain-break” while escaping into a different world.
These past months were filled with chaos and change – never before have I needed books more and never before have I had less time to read. Thank goodness for audiobooks! Not that I have time to binge but I usually manage to work in a few minutes of audiobook-me-time when I’m cleaning the kitchen, or unpacking boxes in our not so new house, or while I’m waiting for doctor appointments, or when I’m stuck in a tiny hospital room for days, or at 4 am after nursing my newborn to sleep but when sleep won’t come easily for me… These were wild months. And books got me through them.
Here’s my “busy-days” reading list:
Circe by Madeline Miller
This book deserves a post of its own but, alas, no time! Circe has to be one of my all-time favourite audiobooks. The lyrical tone might take some getting used to but I thought it suited the content and Miller’s storytelling style. Circe is epic, raw, and utterly beautiful. I was lost in her world in the best possible way. I gave up sleep to listen to this one – a big compliment considering that I’m trying to get any sleep I possibly can! Song of Achilles, also by Miller, is next on my reading list.
The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell
This book was recommended in a Mslexia article about science fiction’s growing popularity. I enjoy science fiction and I’m keen to read more books by African writers who are doing new and exciting things. This historical novel is peppered with magic realism. Set in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Zambia, the epic follows the interwoven lives of three families. It reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Marques’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (one of my all-time favourites). The story is not plot-driven and at nearly 25 hours it’s a big commitment; it’s all about the personal journeys against a political backdrop. I did not love it the way I had hoped to as I had trouble connecting to the characters and the science fiction element was less than I had expected! I thought it was more magic realism (which worked very well in the African/historical context). It was interesting, though, and the history woven into the narrative was insightful.
The Blade Itself, Before they are Hanged, Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie
I love high fantasy books, it’s the ultimate escapism! I’ve recently struggled to find something that kept my attention and in the past year, I’ve trialled several fantasy books that I gave up on. I was drawn in by Abercrombie’s engaging writing style. I found this series violent, but hugely amusing at times, with a fascinating cast of characters. I flew through the books, eager to know what happens next. And this is why it was the most disappointing books on my list. I believe it boils down to personal preference and Abercrombie fans will be roaring at me as his books are loved by many… For me, however, there were a few things: Violence and gore are a big part of the books and I don’t relish excessive and extended violence. I fast-forwarded a few battle scenes where I lost interest. The nihilistic ending might appeal to some, but I needed a stronger conclusion to the series. The ending felt rushed, like there was more to come, and then the reader is left with loose ends. I wasn’t after a happily ever after but I had some major unanswered questions which left me frustrated. In conclusion, a lot to love, Abercrombie is undoubtedly a very skilled writer, but not for me.
Underland by Robert Macfarlane
This was my third book by Macfarlane in twelve months and it did not disappoint. I found his exploration of the “underworld” fascinating. Macfarlane brings the thrills, fears, and beauty of the world beneath our feet to life as he explores forests, glaciers, and catacombs (among other things). I particularly enjoyed his chapter on trees! During each adventure, he speaks to someone who’s an expert in their field, from scientists to fishermen, and their stories become part of a bigger narrative. Macfarlane blends science with personal experience in a book that is both educational and entertaining.
Sense and Sensibility & Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
I can’t help but enjoy Jane Austen when I need pure escapism: Clean endings and first world problems. The Audible audiobook series is well-produced and entertaining (and free for subscribers when I last checked!). It’s a comforting listen for Austen fans. No need to say more or overthink anything here.
The Overstory by Richard Powers
I started writing down some of my thoughts on this audiobook, but it deserves a proper review! I’ll be sharing a blog post on The Overstory shortly.
There you have it, the nine audiobooks that got me through some interesting times. If you have any recommendations, please leave a comment below or send me a message! Have a look at my Wild Reading List for more reviews and recommendations.