Audiobooks of 2021

Thursday 31 March 2022

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Where a crux of a book holds you to a spot, audiobooks have a tendency to hold you to the activity you are doing when you are around them. So as a book ramps up I find myself walking or cleaning for longer or just waiting those few extra minutes to finish listening to a chapter before I swipe my fob into work. 

Anyone else get like this? Like even though you could carry on listening as you move, you find yourself sitting in your parked car for the end of the book?

how to own the room by Viv groskop

How to own the room by Viv Groskop

My first listen of 2021 was Viv Groskop's How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking. Not just on public speaking but what to do and how to react to those things you fear most when doing so. 

Public speaking isn't just about hundreds or thousands of people in an audience, but how to hold yourself in a meeting or speak in front of 10 people! Highlighting not only how to react to anxious instincts when speaking, but how as women we can recognise what to do when made to feel small. 

Something that really drew me to this book was the analysis and development of famous female speeches and the beauty in growth and learning that are clearly visible. From Oprah and Michelle Obama to Virgina Woolf, Groskop's made me take notice of how women own the room with their words and their stance, commanding ownership of the room through their own art and no one else's. 

My favourite audiobook of 2021 was Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House. I have never read anything like it nor do I think I will ever come close. 

This is a memoir like no other - using narrative tropes to delve deep into their abusive relationship. Taking the deep-rooted emotions of loving and being loved into unspeakable horror and delicate hope.

The dream house as a haunted house, as a dream house, as a noir, as an unreliable narrator. 

Giving us something painful and tangible in a framed construct that seems to seep into one and other. 

High rise by J.G Ballard

High rise by J.G Ballard

A tower block filled with the richest of the rich descending into madness within its own confines? 

You got me. 

Read by Tom Hiddleston. 

You got me more.

How does modern architecture and technology effect the human psyche? The novel follows a series of months as the inhabitants of the building descend in mass psychosis on tribal levels as the three egocentric men at the centre of the story fall into their own. 

The tower itself falling into a microcosm, a city within itself. Taking with it, rules, ranking and regulations. With the liminimal space of the car park isolating them from rationale and reality. 

“Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.”


Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo 

Listening to Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other was an incredible experience. Narrated by Anna Maria Nabirye bringing life to the 12 incredible stories. 

Spanning time and locations through a collection of exquisite characters, perceptions and longing Girl, Woman, Other is all-encompassing in these women's voices and urges everyone to find the time to read it. 

Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Somehow it has taken me this long to get round to reading Kurt Vonnegut, and you know, I sodding loved it. 

Lost in this strange sci-fi satire as a representation of post-traumatic stress disorder I found it difficult to get into the rhythm at first, especially with Franco's drawl. But as I got into the flow I couldn't stop listening. 

This American classic brings a new light to World War II writing for me and I find myself seeking it out more and more...

The Collectors by Phillip Pullman

The Collectors by Phillip Pullman

Beautifully short and sweet, Pullman's The Collectors is narrated by Bill Nighy and follows a discussion between two men at college in Oxford about two pieces of art. 

What they don't know is their connection is part of a story that transcends time and location.

For another touch into the world of His Dark Materials, I highly recommend it. 

Lunar living by Kirsty Gallagher

Lunar living by Kirsty Gallagher

Gallagher's Lunar Living brings moonology to modern audiences. 

Drawing on ancient wisdom to empower and bring you more entune with the cycles of the moon. Lunar Living is a soothing support system to help you understand the moon and its effects. 

Imaginary friend by Stephen Chbosky

Imaginary friend by Stephen Chbosky 

At a hefty 24 hours and a half, Stephen Chbosky's Imaginary Friend was one of the longest books I read last year.  

I chose the novel due to my love of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but the similarities end there. This novel got under my skin in a different way, with veins akin to Stephen King. 

Following Christopher and his mother as they escape her abusive partner, they settle in a new town before Christopher goes missing in the woods. What follows is a voice, a secret that came with him from the woods, with a history stemming 50 years back. 

Imaginary Friend crept up, building strangely and intensely which I loved, however I did struggle with some of the religious allegory. 

After 8 audiobooks in 2021, I wonder how many I will have time for in 2022! 

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