So as 2018 draws to a close I’ve been reflecting on my reading habits. One big difference in my reading this year has been the introduction of audiobooks. At first I didn’t think I’d get along with them but I’m pleased to say that with the right audiobook, it’s easily as addictive as reading physical books. In fact, I regularly find myself extending my walk, doing more housework or sitting in my car for an extra ten minutes to carry on listening. Crazy!
Here are my favourite listens of 2018:
Mythos | Stephen Fry | narrated by Stephen Fry
I have tried to read several compendiums of Ancient Greek myths over my (albeit, short) lifetime, but I’ve never really engaged with any nor finished them. Enter Mythos. I’ve long been a fan of Stephen Fry, from Blackadder to QI he has always made me laugh and has a very engaging voice/demeanour so I couldn’t wait to give this one a go. What I particularly liked about this was the way Fry places the myths into context. There’s a beginning, middle and not so quite end. The birth/existence of each Titan, Olympian, Nymph etc… was explained and placed in a cohesive timeline that made it much easier for me to understand the personalities and relationships between each character. I needed the context that Fry provides and I really enjoyed the links between modern speech and the Ancient Greek words/names. I learned a lot, and had fun doing it!
Prudence and Imprudence | Gail Carriger | narrated by Moira Quirk
I really, really enjoy Gail Carriger’s work. Previously I have read her Parasol Protectorate series, which follows the parents of our main character in these books, and thought I’d try the audio versions for this next generation series. I am so glad I did as Moira Quirk really brings Prudence and her friends to life – I even think I enjoy her more than Alexia from the first series. Werewolves, preternaturals, vampires and shifters… a perfect blend of mischief and fun. The narration perfectly captures the joy of the stories and performs the variety of accents masterfully. I was eagerly awaiting the third book to be released on Audible this year and I am very disappointed that for some reason it isn’t available. I am hoping that will change, but at least I can relisten to these two beauties again and again.
Burial Rites | Hannah Kent | narrated by Morven Christie
Burial Rites is an incredibly atmospheric read and I found that the narration really enhanced this aspect of the novel. Christie’s tenor changed depending on the mood of the characters and the situations they were in which was like opening a window into their minds. I found it extremely immersive and fascinating. She pronounces the Icelandic words perfectly, which is definitely something I would have struggled with had I been reading it, and really brought the characters, and Agnes in particular, to life. I could really feel her shyness, confusion and the vitriol of the people that surrounded her. Whilst I agree the work itself is beautiful, I think the fantastic narration aided in the emotional punch I felt while listening and helped render it unforgettable in my head.
Guns of the Dawn | Adrian Tchaikovsky | narrated by Emma Newman
This was a bit of a risk for me as the cover of the book has guns on it. As anyone who knows me and my reading tastes I’m not usually a fan of flintlock/military style fantasy stories, however I had read good reviews and wanted to try out some Tchaikovsky so I went for it. I am so glad I did as I adored it. It’s one of my favourite books of the year, if not all time, and it gave me the confidence to try more books in this genre (hello, Promise of Blood) that I also loved. I found this book engaging, addictive and intelligent. For such a large book, there are no filler characters and the plot flows really well. In particular the battle writing/scenes are excellent. A large part of the novel is set swamplands and the imagery is so immersive. I could smell the smoke, feel the sludge, mud and humidity. This is no small part down to the wonderful narration. I thought Newman was fantastic and it lead me to read some of her works which I also loved. I now own the physical edition but when I reread I will relisten.
Circe | Madeline Miller | narrated by Perdita Weeks
Another fantastically narrated work. I really enjoyed hearing the correct pronunciation of all the Ancient Greek names and places – it helped click a few random bits of Greek mythology knowledge into place, which I’m not sure would have happened had I been reading the words. This is definitely a character focussed retelling with not much of a plot to keep up a pace. This is not an issue for me as I love that kind of story, but I particularly enjoyed listening to this as Weeks did a great job at keeping me engaged with the story and the characters.
The Anna Karenina Fix | Viv Groskop | narrated by Viv Groskop
Ever since I read Anna Karenina by the pool one blisteringly hot holiday to Turkey in my teens I’ve been meaning to read more Russian literature – I just never really knew where to start. While I do know a few of the ‘big’ names, I don’t really know more than their names and the titles of some of their more well known works. This book cropped up in my Twitter feed and I thought it may offer a bit context and some suggestions so I dived in. This book has inspired me to make more of an effort to pick up the Russian works. I really enjoyed the way Groskop wove in her personal experiences in Russia and how what she saw/experienced/learned there are themes that are explored in some of Russia’s most well known works. I found it enlightening and enjoyed learning the backgrounds and cultures of the authors and the sociopolitical environments they created and lived in. And what reader doesn’t love books about books?
Provenance | Ann Leckie | narrated by Adjoa Andon
Now I haven’t read/listened to a lot of science fiction so I took a bit of a chance with this one but I’m glad I did. Although the author’s way with gender pronouns created a bit of confusion when listening, I found the narrator really engaging and fun. I still quote certain phrases the way the narrator does – even my better half knows them and quotes them back at me! A really fun sci-fi romp and I will definitely listen to more of this narrator’s work.
Retribution Falls | Chris Wooding | narrated by Rupert Degas
This one was such a surprise! A really fun, fast-paced, steampunky read. The action kicked off straight away and didn’t let up for the whole novel. The characters were intriguing and realistic, and I particularly liked the way Wooding worked in their histories without compromising the pace or plot. The twists and turns were well conceived and believable in the context of the world and the character developments. The narrator was great – each character was well defined and I’m genuinely sad that the rest of the series isn’t on Audible.