Looking for a good listen? Here are my favorite audiobooks of 2015! Links go to my reviews (if I wrote one) – either here on the blog or on LibraryThing (baystateRA). Clicking on the images will take you to the publishers’ pages where you can listen to audio samples.
2015 Favorite Audiobooks
Dinner with Buddha by Roland Merullo, narrated by Sean Runnette (Highbridge Audio, 2015)
Dinner with Buddha follows Breakfast with Buddha and Lunch with Buddha. They are all road trip novels with a twist – the buddy in the front seat with Otto Ringling, a completely normal middle-aged man without even a drop of crazy, is Volya Rinpoche, a joyful Russian monk. While Otto’s idea of a spiritual experience is a perfectly cooked gourmet meal, Rinpoche (pronounced Rin-po-shay) has been gradually opening his mind to other possibilities over the span of time in which these books take place.
Otto’s story doesn’t seem to end here, which means more of Volya Rinpoche and audiobook narrator Sean Runnette, I hope. Highly recommended!
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, narrated by Cassandra Campbell (Blackstone Audio, 2014)
A Massachusetts Book Award 2015 winner, this novel about a biracial Chinese-American teenage girl and her family before and after her death, will take your breath away with its terrible beauty. Stunning!
The audiobook narration by Audie Award-winner Cassandra Campbell fits the tragic, questioning tone of this book perfectly.
It by Stephen King, narrated by Steven Weber (Penguin Audio, 2010)
At just barely under 45 hours long, It is probably the longest audiobook I’ve ever listened to, but it is worth the listening time if you’re a Stephen King fan. (If you’re not a Stephen King fan yet, I recommend starting your King audiobook journey with Lisey’s Story – that’s the one that got me hooked.) Childhood friends from Derry, Maine grow up and lose track of each other pursuing their successful careers, but are compelled to return to Derry when “It” comes back to town. Sad, scary, and gory, but also about friendship, youth, small town life, and what it means to be good.
Remarkable narration by actor Steven Weber! I think he (a New Yorker) messed up here and there on the pronunciation of place names such as Bangor, Maine, but the Maine accent sounded good to me!
Off Course by Michelle Huneven, narrated by Amy Rubinate (Tantor Audio, 2014)
The bare bones of the story: In 1981, a young woman goes to live in her parents’ cabin in the Pacific Northwest woods to write her dissertation and gets sidetracked by a man. But it’s the fleshing out of those familiar bones that makes Off Course mesmerizing. Narrator Amy Rubinate is a multiple AudioFile Earphones Award-winner.
“A complex portrait of a woman under the influence: of love, then obsession.” — The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin, narrated by Mark Bramhall (Blackstone Audio, 2014)
Another story set in the Pacific Northwest, but the time frame is the early 1900s and the main character is a man. William Talmadge avoids most human society by living alone and tending to his fruit trees, but he decides to help as best he can after he catches sight of two young women on the run from an abusive situation.
The pace of the story is deliberate and careful, like Talmadge, and the story spans years. Listening to, instead of reading The Orchardist forced me to slow down and pay attention to the writing. Audiobook narrator Mark Bramhall is fantastic.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, narrated by Juliet Stevenson (Books on Tape, 2014)
I first got hooked on Sarah Waters’ books on audio when I listened to The Little Stranger, narrated by Simon Vance. The Paying Guests is an even more compelling tale. In 1920s London, an unmarried young woman and her widowed mother are forced to take in lodgers, and settle on a young couple. The man is rough around the edges and shocks the already shaken Mrs. Wray with his careless behavior, but the wife seems to understand their social station and is grateful to live in this upper-class house, even if only as paying guests. Frances, Mrs. Wray’s daughter, is the main character and the story revolves around the changes the lodgers bring about in her life.
Bringing in class identity, sexuality, feminism, and life after the War, The Paying Guests is narrated to perfection by Juliet Stevenson.
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion, narrated by Dan O’Grady (Simon & Schuster Audio, 2015)
First listen to The Rosie Project…wait a while…and then listen to The Rosie Effect. Too much at once of Don Tillman, Assistant Professor of Genetics, and the love of his life, Rosie, could be an overload. But if you enjoyed The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect picks up where it left off. Still humorous, The Rosie Effect gets a little more serious, as Don’s life and relationships become more complicated, making it hard for him to schedule his time efficiently and maintain his focus.
Actor Dan O’Grady, an Australian native, does the voice of Don Tillman (who is the first-person narrator of the story) with a debonair Australian accent.
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, narrated by Juliet Stevenson (Penguin Audio, 2013)
If Juliet Stevenson hadn’t been the narrator, I might not have decided to listen to this historical fiction chunkster spanning the turn of the 19th century at all, despite the glowing reviews, but I’m glad I did.
If you’ve ever wondered what the intrepid women of the past who overcame all odds to become scientists, explorers, doctors, or something else that women weren’t allowed to be might have been like, spend 21 hours and 44 minutes with Juliet Stevenson as she narrates Elizabeth Gilbert’s sprawling saga of the life of botanist Alma Whittaker!
Still can’t get enough Best Of 2015 lists? Visit Largehearted Boy for best-of book lists gathered together for you in one place.