Hear This: Autobiographical Audiobooks

I love listening to audiobooks when I’m in the car or cleaning the house. They seem to make time pass much quicker and a great choice if you’re sick of listening to the same music over and over again. Audiobooks can be tricky because the narrator really does make or break the experience – if you get a bad one you might hate that book forever! On the other hand, a good narrator will draw you in and make the story incredibly captivating.

I use Audible to purchase and listen to my audiobooks. Their monthly subscription service lets you choose the number of credits per month you’d like (each book costs one credit) for a price that’s cheaper than buying one audio book separately. You can listen to a sample before you buy and if you end up not liking a purchase you can exchange it for another for free

Here are three audio books I’ve enjoyed so far this year:

1) Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by Michelle Obama

I’m sure I would have also loved this book if I’d read it the traditional way but hearing Michelle read her autobiography made it extra special. I really can’t fault anything about this audio book; Michelle’s delivery was impeccable. She was serious and somber when taking about the trials her own family faced when she was younger and the struggles of being a presidential family, comical when poking fun at Barack, and warm and loving when discussing her parents, brother and daughters. Becoming is incredibly well written in addition to being excellently narrated and it’s probably my favourite audiobook to date.

2) Educated by Tara Westover, narrated by Julia Whealan

Educated is the true story of Tara Westover’s experience of growing up in a Morman family preparing for the End of Days. However, Tara and her siblings didn’t exist, according to the government. They had never been registered for birth certificates, had no school records because they were (poorly) homeschooled by their mother and had no medical records because their father didn’t believe in hospitals. As she grew older, Tara’s father became more radical and her brother more violent. At 16, Tara bravely left home and in doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it.

I would give this audiobook a 7/10. On the whole Julia Whealan does a good job at giving voice to Tara’s, quite frankly, bizarre childhood. The one thing that bothered me was the deep voice she would put on when narrating something said by Tara’s father or brothers. While this can work well in some instances, with this book I found it jarring and it ruined my enjoyment of the story a little. However, Whealan is great at immersing the listener in the in-depth descriptions of Tara’s childhood memories that may drag if reading them from the page. Overall this book is an inspiring and rewarding journey from unbelievable dysfunction and alienation to a happier and healthier life.

3) Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris, narrated by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is an amazing comic writer, one of the very few authors who makes me literally laugh out loud while turning the pages. Having Sedaris read his own work is an extra treat – his quirky life view, wry impressions and lacerating wit make it impossible not to chuckle your way through this narration.

A collection of semi-autobiographical short stories, Lets Explore Diabetes With Owls is perfect for dipping in and out of while travelling with headphones. Each chapter is a self-contained story that vaguely adheres to the overall theme. Seadaris’ pin-point delivery perfectly narrates his intelligent, witty and at times satirical observations of life’s ups and downs. His characterisations of his parents and sisters are particularly funny, making this audiobook a great option if you need some more laughter in your day.

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