My Top 6 Audiobooks of 2019

audiobook, Audiobooks of the year, reviews, Top 10 Audiobooks

What were your favourite audiobooks in 2019?

img_20181231_181821-026957825604177726325.jpegI’ve never been a huge fan of audiobooks if I’m being honest. I’m too easily distracted by what’s around me. Like a baby or a puppy. If anything were to happen near me or if I spotted anything, I was doomed. And don’t get me started on listening to them in bed. Anyone who can stay awake when they listen to Audible needs to tell me their secret. If I tried to listen to an audiobook, I’d just be forever skipping back to the start of the chapter. But towards the end of this year, I started listening to one audiobook every weekend. Not only was it a really lovely way to relax when I had nothing planned but it got my reading numbers up even further. By the end of 2019, I’d got through 10 audiobooks. So, without them, I’d not have got to my reading total. When it came to listing them, I wanted to do a top 5 but, in the end, couldn’t decide between a few. So, I went with a top 6. I know what you’re thinking, why not just put all 10 in order? Laziness. I’ve already written two top 10 lists already tonight. I didn’t fancy another. So, here we go.

Book Review – How Not To Be A Boy by Robert Webb

audiobook, book blogger, book blogging, book review, books, fucking funny, gender, memoir, men, must read, review

I always worry about reading people’s biographies. I find the concept of reading about someone’s life to be an extremely complicated thing. At university I was very interested in the idea of a writer’s individual voice and how it changes. How can any piece of writing be an accurate portrayal of that person when it has been written for a specific purpose/audience? When it’s been edited and reworked before being deemed ready to print? You might be sitting there screaming internally “you’re really overthinking this you pretentious knob” and, to be honest, I am. Though it’s always something at the back of my mind. So I never really read celebrity biographies no matter how much I respect or adore the person writing them. However, last year that all changed when I couldn’t stop buying them. In the space of a few weeks I bought Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard and How Not to Be a Boy by Robert Webb. In an attempt to silence that inner voice telling me ‘it’s not their real voice’, I bought all three books on Audible as well as owning a physical copy. I hoped that hearing the writer speaking his own words would bring the whole experience together for me. Besides, all three of these men have distinctive and delightful voices that I definitely wouldn’t mind streaming into my ear holes.

Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

audiobook, blogger, blogging, book blogger, books, Jennifer Aniston, Netflix, Penguin Books, women, Women's Prize for Fiction
It’s the start of the third week of the new year and I’m still in that smug phase where I’m keeping up with my good habits… for the most part anyway. I slip now and then but I’m getting there. Even Mary Poppins was only practically perfect. I am, thankfully, doing okay at keeping up with my reading. I’m on course to finish another book in the next few days, which I’m quite proud of. Or at least I was until a friend of mine told me she’d already read 4 books this year. I guess I have some catching up to do. Either that or pretend to myself that those books were only a couple of pages long. Yeah, that sounds okay. Plus she doesn’t work 5 days a week like I do. So she has a young child? Like that’s time consuming…

Book Review – The Power by Naomi Alderman

audiobook, blogging, book blogger, book blogging, books, feminism, fucking creepy, Margaret Atwood, sci-fi, women

5_star_rating_system_3_and_a_half_stars I have owned The Power since April this year but have only just got round to reading it. At first I was as excited about the concept as everyone else but it also worried me. The idea that Naomi Alderman has taken conventional gender roles and flipped them was inevitably going to interest me. However, I thought there was too much potential for this to go down a violent road that I wasn’t that keen on. I’m happy to describe myself as a feminist and think the fight for gender equality is an important and difficult struggle. I just don’t agree with the kind of militant feminism that exists in certain quarters that believes anger is the answer. I understand there has been a somewhat violent and extreme nature to the feminist movement but times have moved on. We’re not going to get real gender equality with an “eye for an eye” attitude. We don’t need to teach men what we’ve been going through by doing it to them; we just need to teach men to be better. The only people that a more aggressive fight for women’s rights is helping are the so called “meninists” who like to make out feminists hate men.


animation, audiobook, book haul, books, currently reading, Johnny Depp, Netflix, Penguin Books, recently watched, Will Arnett
Bit of a confession time to start with: I’ve just got Netflix back and it’s meant my amount of reading time has decreased quite a bit. I knew I was going to go back before Season 2 of Stranger Things came out but I’ve so easily fallen back into my usual binge watching. I’ve read a bit but definitely not as much as I should have. I’m definitely blaming work; if I wasn’t so tired I wouldn’t find it so easy to just collapse in front of the TV for hours. It would also mean I’d have finished writing this post hours ago instead of now. Although, to be fair, I have been busy today. I’ve taken my usual load of Instagram photos (with a new Halloween aesthetic – so look out for that) and then I’ve had a good tidy. I’m, once again, trying to sort out my life and get rid of loads of stuff I don’t need anymore. Like clothes I haven’t worn in ages or don’t fit. Eventually I’m going to own a normal amount of items and be able to walk around without having to step over piles of books that take up every inch of available space… but that doesn’t sound too much fun really.

Weekly Bookish Post

  • Classic gothic fiction – where to start?

In my new series of, hopefully, helpful bookish posts, I wrote a handy guide to early gothic fiction. I’ve encountered a few people over the years wondering where to start or having trouble getting into The Mysteries of Udolpho. I use my years studying these novels to suggest a way into these novels.

Currently Reading

  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
I’ve read a bit of this recently and am still loving it. If the chapters weren’t so long that I keep falling asleep in the middle of them then I’d be further on by now. However, I put it aside in favour of some more appropriate Halloween reading.

  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Starting with one of my favourite Christie novels. It’s a creepy crime tale that is full of death and intrigue. It also helps that I’m reading the Facsimile edition and it’s pretty fucking spooky. I’m hoping to finish this ASAP before moving on to something else. I’ll also attempt to finish my Dracula audiobook. It’s the Audible exclusive featuring a cast including Alan Cumming and Tim Curry. I’m sure it will be fantastic. 

Recently Purchased 
  • Vintage Penguins

 Another week and another batch of new, old books. This time I’ve found the classic Penguin copy of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, the iconic Milton Glaser cover of Run, Rabbit Run by John Updike, and, finally, a rare (ish) edition of Island by Aldous Huxley. They’re all gorgeous and I can’t wait to see them in person.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Rick and Morty, BoJack Horseman
So, after all this time, I finally get Netflix back and what is the first thing I do? Watch the 3rd season of Rick and Morty again. I genuinely think this was the best season so far. It featured the best episode so far (‘The Ricklantis Mixup’) and my least favourite ever episode (‘Morty’s Mind Blowers’). Despite this, it was just a great all round season. The episodes all worked well together and everything was just so entertaining. I can’t wait til the next series comes out in a million years. Then, after having to hear a colleague talk about it recently, I watched the entire new series of BoJack Horseman in a day. I loved it but I’m feeling a bit pyschologically drained. I’m a huge fan of dark comedy but this series was super intense. The episode about BoJack’s mother was fantastic but left me feeling more than a little empty. I definitely think it requires a second watch… just after I’ve got over the first viewing I mean.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

I watched this for the first time in years for my latest TBT review. Find out what memories it brought up in my review here.


audiobook, book haul, books, currently reading, kindle, Ricky Gervais

So the book buying ban is going swimmingly. Only another 12 books have been added to the collection. This week I’ve bought 3 new actual books, 2 ebooks, and, a whopping, 7 audiobooks. Admittedly, 2 of those audible purchases were with 2 of the credits I’ve been letting stack up so I didn’t exactly pay for them this week. I’m trying to get better at not using up all of my space though and have spent some of today sorting out things I no longer need/want. It’s hard because I’m a pathetic hoarder. I need to go on a TV show like obsessive compulsive cleaners or something and just have someone else sort my life out. I’ll just sit over here reading so I can decrease the size of my TBR pile. Currently it’s taller than the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building). 
Currently Reading

  • The Answers by Catherine Lacey
So, my sleeping pattern hasn’t exactly gone to the picture perfect plan I’d painted last week (huge shock!) but I’ve still continued reading this week. As I get further into this, I’m getting more worried that this is turning more into rom-com territory than it is Black Mirror. If this all ends up with the main character falling in love with the guy who planned the whole Girlfriend Experience then I’mma be pissed. I’ll keep you posted.

Recently Purchased 
  • Books

So, I caved and bought three books this week. I’m not proud of myself but I’m super happy with all of them. So, what am I gonna do?

    1. Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh: The latest cookbook from one of my favourite chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi, is all about desserts. Two of my favourite things, the  second being sugar, coming together in a gorgeously designed book. I had to have this. If you haven’t checked out of Ottolenghi before then you should. His recipes are so flavoursome and interesting.
    2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood: So I already have a couple of copies of this book but I saw a post on Waterstones’ Instagram that made me impulse buy another. This new, hardback edition of the book is bloody gorgeous. It’s all black with a bit of red and loads of embossed details. I fell in love instantly. Check my Instagram soon.
    3. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen: When buying The Handmaid’s Tale I had the choice of paying for delivery of buying another book. Clearly, I went with the more expensive option and bought another book. I love Bruce Springsteen (but, really, who doesn’t?) and have wanted his memoirs for ages. I’m probably going to end up getting the audiobook because it seems like the best way to do it. But having a paperback copy too can’t really hurt.

  • Kindle books
    1. Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets by David Thomas Moore (ed.): This book appeared on my BookBub email one day and it sounded too intriguing to miss. This is a collection of stories from a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy writers that takes the famous detective in a whole host of new directions. It sounds kind of fun and silly. I’m not expecting greatness but what harm can it do? Especially at the price I bought it for.
    2. Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: This is one of those books that most bookish people seem to have read so, again, when it appeared cheap on BookBub I decided it was time to try it out. It’s a crazy mystery set in a bookshop. How am I not going to love this?

  • Audibooks

  1. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson: This is one of those super exciting Audible original dramas that has such an amazing cast that I couldn’t refuse. I don’t think I’ve ever read Treasure Island. My knowledge of the original comes from my love of the Muppet version. Now, consideirng how faithful Mupper Christmas Carol is to the original, I’m gonna say that I’m aware enough of the story. Still, this adaptation should be pretty good.
  2. Believe Me by Eddie Izzard: I’ve loved Eddie Izzard’s comedy for many years and think he’s an incredibly inspirational and interesting person. To be quite honest, I used to have a tiny crush on him back in the day but, let’s face it, I have a tiny crush on just about everybody. So, I was super excited for the release of his memoir earlier this year. Rather than buying the book, I decided it was better to hear the audibook. There’ll be something about hearing Eddie speaking his own words that just makes it better. I can’t wait.
  3. The Butterfly Effect With Jon Ronson by Jon Ronson: To be honest, this one was free so I didn’t exactly buy it nor did I really look into it before I did. It’s about porn and the tech industry. Not exactly my usual topics for light reading but maybe something interesting.
  4. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery: Another book that I’ve never read and thought I should change it. And why not save myself some time by listening to it instead.
  5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Why did I buy this? It cost me 50p. If something is so criminally cheap then I really cant’ pass it up. Simple as that.
  6. The Podfather Trilogy – Season Four of The Ricky Gervais Show: I love the Ricky Gervais podcast and used to own a copy of all of the seasons. I lost them somewhere along the way so when these turned up cheap on Audible I thought “why not?”. I love Karl Pilkington and the relationship he has with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant is just glorious. It’s so hard to listen to these and not die laughing. I need these for when work is getting me down.
  7. Ricky Gervais Show: The Complete Fifth Season: See above.
Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Modern Family
I’m meant to be ending my subscription of NowTV at the end of this month so I can finally get back to Netflix. However, it was my plan to also watch the first season of Westworld before I do that. However, I keep finding excuses not to do it and am, instead, still making my way through all of Modern Family again. This, in itself, it fine but I’ve already seen it. I need to use this time for good.

  • The Breakfast Club
This week I went all nostalgic and watched a film I’ve loved since I was a teenager. Read all about my trip back in time in my last TBT review.

Tuesday’s Reviews: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

audiobook, books, fucking sad, fucking weird, Nick Offerman, original, reviews

When I was preparing my ‘Most Anticipated Books of 2017′ list, I kept seeing loads of people eagerly awaiting the release of George Saunders’ first novel. I didn’t add the book to my list, though, because I wasn’t sure I’d be interested. I enjoy history but I don’t know a great deal about the intricacies of American history. Only the bits that have been directly tied up with British history really. I mean I know the basics but I can’t tell you a great deal about Abraham Lincoln apart from, you know, the Civil War and slavery thing. So a novel that delved into an untold story of his private life really didn’t seem as though it was for me. Until I discovered the audiobook, anyway. I was interested as soon as I read the name Nick Offerman but it just kept getting better. I mean pretty much everyone is in this bloody audiobook. It’s amazing. So I used one of my credits to buy the thing and I’m really glad I did. I’ve still never seen a copy of the actual book so this will review be entirely based on the audiobook. However, I’d encourage anyone to get it for sheer entertainment value. If you’ve read the book or not.
On the surface, Lincoln in the Bardo sounds like an incredibly simple and narrow narrative idea. It takes place over the course of one night: precisely the night of the 22nd of February 1862. Only 2 days earlier, Willie Lincoln, the 11 year old son of President Abraham Lincoln, had died of typhoid fever and is now interred in a crypt in the Georgetown cemetery. With his wife having taken to her bed in grief, Lincoln makes a final visit to his beloved son’s final resting place. It comes from a tale that was printed in newspapers at the time, that Lincoln would occasionally sneak away from the White House in order to hold the body of his dead son. Saunders was intrigued by the idea and has spent years researching in order to tell the tale. All so simple but sad so far, right? Well, Saunders has found a way to take this story of grief and present it in an innovative way.

You see, the mysterious Bardo of the title is a Tibetan words that roughly translates to “transitional state” and is a term used to describe the state of existence between life and rebirth. It refers to the Buddhist idea that before someone is reborn on Earth their consciousness will experience many things that will prepare them for what’s to come. Within the confines of the George Saunders’ novel, the Bardo is the state that Willie Lincoln found himself in 2 days after his death. It is a kind of purgatory where souls must wait until they accept their fate and are ready to move on. Within the realm between life and death we meet a whole cast of characters who are waiting for their chance to tell their story. Lincoln in the Bardo is less of a traditional novel than it is a play. The narrative is set out as a mix between dialogue and snippets of contextual information, which is why I think listening to the audiobook may be a superior experience.

You see, as we wait in the Bardo we are introduced to a great deal of characters who we spend a different amount of time with. All are firm believers that their fate is temporary and that, within time, their bodies will heal and they will go about with their lives. We are led through the environment by three main figures: a middle-aged printer who died just before he was able to consummate his marriage to his much younger wife; a young gay man who had second thoughts just after he slit his wrists following an argument with his lover; and an elderly priest who, alone, understands where he is. As the story moves on we meet many more players in the tale including a husband and wife, a woman who can’t let go of her daughters, and an old Scrooge-type who is constantly worrying about his various properties. Hearing the stories of their lives and death forms a large part of the book and I suspect this proves to be a lot less confusing and immersive when they all, literally, have their own voices.

The spirits within the Bardo may not have any idea of what they really are but they all come together to aid young Willie. As they are all keen to point out, no child should be made to suffer the trials that await him there but the young lad is keen to remain in case his father needs him. The wandering souls unite to help the boy move on and find peace. They must show him that Lincoln would not want to imagine his son suffering unnecessarily. They do this, primarily, by attempting to ‘speak’ to the man himself and, as a result, experience his grief first-hand. It is not just a grief for the death of his much-loved son but for the many young men who have been killed in the on-going Civil War. There is a reason why Saunders’ has chosen Lincoln to head the tale when you could have easily pulled on the heartstrings with any old father figure.

The polyphonic narrative of Lincoln in the Bardo is interspersed with snippets of historical sources, both real and fake, that provide context to the time. We hear things on a political front, a social level and within the personal confines of the White House itself. Altogether, they build a portrait of the mind of man who was trying to hold his country together whilst living through his own personal tragedy. This is a novel not just about grief but about duty. How a person must balance their public and private selves; how someone must decide between their will or their duties. Lincoln has many decisions to make. He must decide whether to keep visiting his son’s body or let him go. He must decide how to keep fighting a war that is going to cause the deaths of so many more sons. When Willie was ill, the President was forced to keep up his public duties despite being worried for the boy.

This is an incredibly sentimental novel anyway but these added depths make it an even stronger one. It champions hope and resolve even in the face of uncertainty and pain. It is an idea that is becoming more relevant as the days go on. He may have come up with this idea way before anyone could have comprehended Trump being in the White House but this novel really comes to encapsulate the damage that has been caused on the American spirit. It is a fantastic book. Although, I’m not sure I’d necessarily have thought so if I hadn’t heard it as a performance. There was something about listening to the spirits and the snippets of historical references out-loud that made them stronger. It manages to undercut a lot of the increased sentimentality that starts to seep out with an emphasis on the comedic elements. This may be Saunders’ first novel but it demands to be treated as a play. If you’ve been struggling with this then get yourself to Audible.