I listened to more audiobooks this year than any other year of my life, and I suspect the trend will continue. The first three titles below are my top three favorites of 2015; everything else is in alphabetical order.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, read by Rosamund Pike (1813)
Someone get Rosamund Pike an Audie (or all the Audies). I’ve long loved her velvety voice, and I think that’s what finally pushed me to “read” Pride and Prejudice after all these years; I pre-ordered this audiobook as soon as I saw she was the narrator. It’s a story Pike has a history with; she played Jane in the 2005 film adaptation. She does an amazing job with all the voices in this production; all of her characterizations are spot on.
The Martian by Andrew Weir, read by R. C. Bray (2013)
I don’t know if I would have loved The Martian as much as if I had read a print version of the book, but I’m head-over-heels in love with R. C. Bray’s narration. He does a great job of channeling Mark Watney’s smartass attitude, and he makes all the science jargon-filled sections fly by. When Watney says he’ll “science the shit” out of something and proceeds to describe how, Bray makes it all very entertaining.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, read by the author (2015)
I’m sure I would have loved this book anyway had I read it in print, but I think there was an added poignancy in listening to Coates speak to his son. I’m sure a narrator would have done a wonderful job with the book, but it felt more meaningful with Coates reading his own words; there’s a special wistfulness when he talks about France, and added gravity when he’s recounting some of his past traumas.
Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew, read by the author (2015)
A lot of people know Mulgrew as Red on Orange is the New Black, but to me, she’ll always be the formidable Captain Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager. Mulgrew has lived an extraordinary life and has gone through things that would break some people. I am in awe of everything she’s overcome and everything she’s accomplished. What I liked best about her narration is how matter-of-fact she is. She’s worked hard to be successful, and she’s not afraid to say so.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, read by Eileen Stevens (2015)
Texas teen Willowdean “Will” Dickson is a fat girl whose mother was once the town’s beauty queen. Will has always been okay with her weight and her self-image, but now that she’s pageant age and her cute coworker is showing an interest in her, her confidence is slipping. Eileen Stevens does a great job of voicing a teen girl and teen angst.
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein, read by the author (2015)
Carrie Brownstein reflects on her upbringing and rise to fame with Sleater-Kinney. If you’re a S-K fan, I think audiobook is extra awesome because Carrie is the narrator, plus there’s an additional interview at the end. In general, the book has everything you can want in a music memoir.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg, read by Aziz Ansari (2015)
In Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg put today’s dating scene into a sociological context. Ansari is fun to listen to, and although you don’t get some of the visuals that you would in the print version, he does add extra commentary that isn’t included in the book. As much as I love charts, I think Ansari’s narration is a worthy tradeoff!
Yes Please by Amy Poehler, read by the author (2014)
I know Amy Poehler is a “problematic fave” in some parts of the feminist world, but my enjoyment of this book has nothing to with her politics; I just loved her on Parks and Rec. I liked this memoir, and I liked her reading of it. The audiobook also features several celebrity cameos, like Patrick Stewart and Kathleen Turner. It’s an entertaining distraction on commutes.