Top Audiobooks of 2019 and a GIVEAWAY!

It's a little on the early side for me to do any year end favorites, as I must take into account every book I read until the last hours of December 31st. But I have a great opportunity to give away a free audiobook from the only place to purchase your audiobooks: Libro.fm!  I normally would get audiobooks from the library, but I find that I am often scrambling to finish listening before the due date (Becoming) or they’re just not available for lending (Sounds Like Titanic). BOTH are on my best of 2019 list. If you haven’t heard of Libro.fm, definitely check them out for your audiobook purchases - you can choose to support your local bookstore or ALL affiliated independent bookstores (and not that big box retailer we shall not name). You can always use this referral link of mine for three book credits at $14.99, which is basically a 3 for 1 deal, or use code BORN2READ at checkout. And in the meantime, go comment on the picture below on my Instagram  by Friday 12/13 for a chance to win a free book!

When it comes to audiobooks, I can safely say that I am on my last one of the year. I do most of my listening while alone in the car or alone at home gettin' stuff done. That's not gonna happen over winter break. I decided to make this list a short one, as audiobooks are about 20% of my total reading. I'm on track to read more than 90 books this year, and 20 have been on audio. Since I read so few, I put a lot of thought into what I'm going to read, and definitely get rid of any that don't work for me within the first ten minutes! So I'd like to think these are QUALITY recs.

As I'm looking over this list I'm seeing a theme... With the exception of the great David Sedaris, they are all women to be reckoned with - not surprising in 2019.

Becoming by Michelle Obama
I mean. What else can be said about how fantastic this book was?? She is such an inspirational human, and her storytelling ability just made her that much more so. (Original review here.)

Calypso by David Sedaris
I would say that you cannot go wrong with a David Sedaris audiobook, but I was a little gun shy of picking up Calypso because Theft by Finding Diaries was a total aberration for me and I abandoned it after giving it a whole hour! This was much more of the Sedaris I love: full of hilarity and heart. (Original review here.)

Sounds Like Titanic by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman
This was probably the biggest surprise hit for me this year. I feel like more people should be talking about this woman and this book - it's BANANAS and also, she is really impressive. (Original review here.)

The Witches are Coming by Lindy West
Lindy West is a favorite writer of mine (see also Shrill) and I loved her hilarious hot takes on all the things, as well as her messages of hope and strength. (Original review here.)

Know My Name by Chanel Miller
I am only halfway through Chanel Miller's memoir and I can for sure say that it is the one book above all these mentioned that I would recommend, and shove into people's hands if I could. Listening to the harrowing account of a sexual assault victim, the realities of our broken justice system and misogynistic culture, was really hard to stomach. But her story is so important, not just because she was Brock Turner's victim, but because clearly the process is equally terrible and unjust for most sexual assault victims. It is eye opening and hopefully encourages activism and change. Not to mention the fact that her writing is beautiful - I'm not sure if I've ever come across so many brilliant and evocative uses of metaphor. Her comics are also so engaging and I can't wait to see what this amazingly talented woman's future holds.


Books I Read in November

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
 On paper, This Tender Land didn’t seem appealing to me: comparisons to The Grapes of Wrath or Huckleberry Finn just transported me back to the excruciatingly boring (and whitewashed) assigned reading of my youth. Alas, I caved and got it from Book of the Month because of all the glowing reviews. I stand corrected, this was riveting from the first pages until the last, whereupon I may have shed a rare tear! The plot twists and turns had me on the edge of my seat, the sense of place is palpable, the theme of indigenous people’s struggles appreciated, and the characters stole my heart. I’m definitely going into Krueger's backlist!

Guts by Raina Telgemeier
Finally, it was my turn to read Telgemeier's latest and it did not disappoint. I really adore her autobiographical stuff and Guts was so evocative and poignant. Sharing her story of anxiety, and it's onset during elementary school, will be a great resource for so many kids. I'm so glad that my kids are growing up with her books that share vulnerability. You can tell she was stretching a bit to turn this into a cohesive storyline, but it ended up being a sweet reminder that we cannot know what it is to walk in someone else's shoes.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
“I think the best stories feel like they’re still going, somewhere, out in story space.”
Oh man, it’s really hard to put into words my feelings about this book. I can definitely see how it didn’t work for a lot of readers. In the beginning, I was worried that it might not click for me either. There wasn’t a certain moment in the plot, or turn of events that I can point to where I eventually became obsessed with this book. I just slowly found myself thinking about it when I would wake up in the morning, kind of half asleep. In those barely conscious moments I would see some of the connections in this fever dream like story. I felt confused a lot of the time, to be sure. Like The Night Circus, I didn’t feel as if I wholly understood every facet of the narrative by the end. But, I found the endings completely satisfying. In quiet moments I’ll still be thinking about The Starless Sea and making connections for a long, long time to come. The ending is not a complete ending, but it’s a perfect goodbye to the story that made me laugh aloud and smile an enormous smile as I turned the last page.

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West
I will never forget listening to Lindy West’s interview on This American Life what feels like a million years ago now (it was just in 2015). The anger I felt on her behalf was palpable, and her strength and humor gave me hope. Of course I bought her first book Shrill when it came out, and I am super grateful to libro.fm for an advance listening copy of The Witches are Coming. This was another five star read from West, as I LOVE her takes on how the zeitgeist affects and is affected by our culture. From Goop to Guy Fieri, she had me nodding in agreement, in stitches of laughter, and still feeling hope, despite an even bleaker world than ever.

Frankly in Love by David Yoon
This one has been all over the internets and I felt like a straightforward YA after reading The Starless Sea. Frank Li was a fantastic protagonist and it was really refreshing to read a YA contemporary fiction from a male's perspective. Yoon also has a lot of fun playing with words, which I found delightful and juuuust on the acceptable side of gimmicky. This looks to be the first in a series - so if you are looking for a standalone with a neatly tied up ending, you won't find that here. But, I for sure will pick up Yoon's follow up!

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
Listening to Reichl's audiobooks has become absolute comfort food reading for me. I loved reading Save Me the Plums this summer, her story about working at Gourmet Magazine. And this story was about her stint as a food critic for The New York Times. I could listen to her describe food for days, and listen to the laughter in her voice as she describes the shenanigans of the myriad disguises she employs while dining out, only to discover her true self.

Pilu of the Woods by Mai Nguyen
My daughter rather enjoyed this graphic novel and I finally picked it up off her shelves for a quick afternoon coffee break read. The illustrations are lovely, and the story is very cute, albeit sad - a story of a girl who has tragically lost her mother. Although there are these monster like creatures that lurk on the pages and it's not entirely clear what is going on until the very end, which felt a little confusing. Overall a sweet book for a graphic novel loving kiddo.

Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire by JK Rowling
Obviously, this was a reread, but at over 700 pages, I am COUNTING IT. It's been so fun doing this reread with my nine year old daughter. This one is so fun with all of the other schools, the second task is one of my favorite bits, and the Yule Ball! It's also where we are introduced to one of my favorite (of many) Rowling vocabulary genius moves: the PENSIEVE. I mean.