Audio books have improved my life times 1,000. They make boring or annoying tasks go by in the blink of an eye. Now, when I’m riding the exercise bike or swiping on mascara, I’m also reading at the same time. Such luxury! If you’re not on the audio book train yet, you need to get on board!
Without further ado, here are some audio books I’ve had in my ears recently. I’ve got a feministy high fantasy trilogy, a celebrity memoir, and a collection of personal essays about coming of age as a gay, black man after being raised in the Catholic faith.
The Queens of Renthia trilogy by Sarah Beth Durst
The Queens of Renthia trilogy is fantasy as it should be. The world Durst imagines is creative and fresh, the twists and turns of the plot are never predictable, and not only are there strong female characters, they’re all strong in different ways. I love the complexity that happens when characters who all feel like real people have to deal with a big, hairy mess of a problem! In this case, the problem is the world is inhabited by nature spirits who are tied to specific elements—oh, and the spirits hate humans and will attack with abandon unless reined in by a powerful human queen. Only women have the ability to control spirits, and only some women at that, so girls who show aptitude are shipped off to training academies so there’s always a future queen ready to step in if the current queen dies. I sometimes struggle with fantasy in audio because it can be hard to get a handle on worldbuilding details, but I had no trouble following these books, which I credit to both the writing and the amazing narration of Khristine Hvam. If you want to totally immerse yourself in a magic forest where people live in trees, this trilogy is for you.
So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta
I’ll admit, at first blush I wasn’t sold on Retta’s memoir even though I love Parks and Rec more than any other show in the history of ever. There’s a lot of page space spent on topics I don't personally care about. Designer handbags? Duke University? Keurigs? Meh. But then the last chapter was about her Hamilton obsession, and I officially bought in. This is pretty much a standard celebrity memoir—a little about her life growing up, stories of her struggles and challenges trying to make it in Hollywood, and snapshots of what her daily life is like now. It’s the kind of book you read when you’re in the mood for something light and fun, and maybe a little voyeuristic. I always like to do books like this in audio because when people act for a living, you know their delivery will be on point.
I Can’t Date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux
Michael Arceneaux was raised Catholic, and he has spent much of his life trying to reconcile his identity as a gay man with the faith of his childhood. He’s also an incisive cultural commentator when it comes to issues of race and class. This is a person who thinks deeply, who has analyzed his life and in this book offers up some of the conclusions he’s drawn and the steps he’s still taking to understand himself and his family. I love collections like this--personal essays that make you laugh and make you think, sometimes on the same page. And audio is the way to go, no question. Hearing Arceneaux’s words in his own voice is a special experience.