With commutes, road trips and errands, audiobooks are great for book lovers—although, when given the time, we’d all prefer a physical book in our hands, the crisp swish of pages, the aroma of wood, vanilla and glue, the sanctity of reading words from the hearts of trees. So each month, SheReads editorial director Lauren Wise curates a list of binge-worthy audiobooks, new and old. An added bonus: as the She Writes Press and SparkPress associate publisher, she also highlights the indie author audiobooks you should listen to now.
Feature Image Credit: @abookishendeavor
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
I found so many insightful gems in this audiobook, especially as a woman balancing new motherhood and a busy career. And as the narrator, author Glennon Doyle brings that passion directly to the listener’s ears. As women, we strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent – even from ourselves.
Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.
The Contract by Sheila Grinell
Bringing the amazing character development and rich sensory experience of cross-cultural romance and business that she did her in debut novel Appetite, author Sheila Grinell takes the reader on a ride in this audiobook.
Joanna and Ev have been partners for 10 years – in business and in love – when one of the only women in government in the Middle East invites their firm to design a children’s museum in Riyadh. Jo sees a chance to solidify her name in the design world, and help Saudi girls along the way, in the venture. Her husband, however, has no desire to work in a vigorously policed society; he prefers to remain in his workshop, fashioning gadgets for museum displays. Jo’s sister and young protégé share his doubts, but Ev accedes to Jo’s wishes. The process of bidding on the job soon throws their home office into chaos and challenges their long-held assumptions about the value of their work – and marriage. If they get the job, will their partnership survive the strain?
The Eternal Audience of One by Rémy Ngamije
From one of Africa’s emerging literary voices comes a lyrical and piquant tale of family, migration, friendship, war, identity and race, following the intersecting lives of Séraphin and a host of eclectic characters, from pre- and post-1994 Rwanda – colonial and post-independence Windhoek – Paris and Brussels in the ’70s, Nairobi public schools, and the racially charged streets of Cape Town. Character Séraphin is many things: playlist-maker, nerd-jock hybrid, self-appointed merchant of cool, Rwandan. His story starts when he moves to Cape Town, South Africa. While friends, parties, and controversies are all a pleasure to have, Séraphin is going to receive the long-awaited last puzzle piece to his grand scheme to immigrate: a law degree from a prestigious university. But the start to the future proves to be difficult when the past is still surviving.
Things We Lost to the Water by Eric Nguyen
Ever since visiting Southeast Asia for a month, I’ve been interested in the history and stories of the people and their cultures. This is the ambitious story of an immigrant Vietnamese family who struggles to stay connected to each other and their culture after moving to New Orleans. Huong is trying to maintain her family while jobless, homeless, and without her husband who is still back in Vietnam. Their connection is through letters, and the hope that their children will be able to grow up with their father. But as time marches forward, Huong realizes that she will never see her husband again and her children will live in the shadows of their immigration forever. As they grow up and continue to live their lives, their search for identity might just be the thing that tears them apart. When disaster strikes the city they now call home and they are suddenly forced to find a new way to come together and honor the ties that bind them.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert
I love the easy reading of Amy Reichert–and not to mention how she incorporates the rich heritage of Wisconsin and the surprisingly vast food scene there–into each of her novels. I’ve listened to this audiobook at least ten times over the years, so I had to include it on this list.
It’s hard enough for Lou to manage her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, but it becomes even harder when she finds her even more demanding fiance in the buff … with the intern. Lou didn’t think her world could get worse, that is until Al, the guy who writes scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym gets an anonymous tip that sends him to Luella’s, on the same day. The review practically writes itself. Yet later that day Lou and Al cross paths, and Al challenges her to show him the best of Milwaukee. They travel the city and eat all the delicacies and their attraction is only growing stronger. Lou’s restaurant faces closure and when the truth comes out, will Lou be able to move on from the past?
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
Great Circle is the unforgettable intertwining of two stories: That of a daredevil female aviator, Marian Graves, determined to chart her own course in life at any cost, and a century later, Hollywood starlet Hadley Baxter, cast to play Marian in a film that centers on her disappearance in Antarctica. Through Prohibition and World War II, from Montana to London to present-day Hollywood, the reader is taken on an epic journey of two women’s fates and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times. I laughed, I cried, I kept listening.
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
For fans of thrillers (or Stephen King, since his son “Joe Hill” has a very similar writing style) this is a great upcoming fall pick for you. Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre. He’s an aging death-metal rock god, so his taste for the unusual isn’t that unusual. His latest discovery though is a bit strange, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man’s suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. But when the UPS man delivers exactly what he paid for, Jude realizes that he actually paid for a real ghost. There is thrills and terror at every turn.
A Dream to Die For by Susan Z. Ritz
This award-winner crosses multiple genres—crime, fantasy, romance and sci-fi—and is ideal for fans of creepy suspense and murder mysteries. Celeste had a dream, a very strange dream about a woman in a window and lilacs and someone’s hands around her neck. It was odd, but Celeste hoped her therapist, and Cult leader, would help her understand it. Until she finds him dying, with his files of intimate dreams and secrets of the town missing. When she becomes the primary suspect, she enlists the help of an old friend and tries to clear her name. It proves difficult though, as they become the killer’s next target. Darkly comic and compelling, I love creepy cult stories that don’t cross over into disturbing—so this was the perfect read to quench a thirst for a thriller.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
This surprise hit is full of magic and mystery, and Daniel Henning is a great narrator for this quirky and theatrical audiobook.
Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world. Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light. The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting love story, masterfully told, about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place – and realizing that family is yours.
A Burning by Megha Majumdar
As a Muslim girl who grew up in the slums, Jivan has resolved to not let her past define her and make a better future for herself. However, when a seemingly insignificant remark is made on social media, the tables turn, and she becomes the lead suspect involving an alleged revenge attack on a train. It doesn’t help that scorned gym teacher PT Sir seems to corroborate the story. Just when Jivan is about to lose all hope, a girl named Lovely presents an alibi that will clear her name, but not without tarnishing her own.