My Favorite Audiobooks of 2019, Honorable Mentions
Did I mention that I like audiobooks? While my 2019 was blessed with lots of great audiobook experiences, there were more than a few fantastic books that didn’t make the Top Ten for various reasons, but are still worthy of a recommendation.
The books listed below are great listens filled with useful information, gallows humor, and amazing stories, both inspirational and cautionary. I hope you find a book that speaks to you.
1. Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them
Doesn't everyone want to read a funny, well-written, and thoroughly researched history of disease? I do! I do!
(Postscript: This was my one big moment of telepathy from last year, and a book that I happily review more in-depth for my upcoming 2020 list.)
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright. Narrated by Gabra Zackman.
2. Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991
A classic book on ‘90s underground music that I read cover to cover back in high school, this as an audiobook I really enjoyed. I thought the multiple narrator format worked especially well for a music anthology, each narrator telling the story of a seminal and unheralded independent band, and giving each chapter of the audio book a different flavor.
It’s a great prequel to Smash! and a fantastic description of the underground scene before there was any expectation of money to be made as an independent music artist. The descriptions of how important community and audience were to these bands are really inspiring to me as someone who still cares about creating a sense of belonging. Our Band Could be Your Life is a great history of what success looked like before a band called Nirvana came along and showed everyone you could make money doing this independent music stuff. Sounds like teen spirit.
Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad. Narrated by Jon Wurster, Merrill Garbus, Fred Armisen, Sharon Van Etten, Stephin Merritt, Jeff Tweedy, Corey Taylor, Phil Elverum, Michael Azerrad, Dave Longstreth, Jonathan Franzen, Laura Jane Grace, and Colin Meloy.
3. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
With amazing information that will keep you up at night, this book will change how you think about the importance of sleep. (Here’s the book’s helpful cure-all health tip — get more sleep!)
The one downside is that all this talk about sleep and the narrator’s cool, smooth delivery can make you a little drowsy and at times comes across like a doctor reading a medical prescription to you as a lullaby.
As I prepare for the birth of my first child, I don’t want to think about what kind of sleep I’m going to be missing, but am glad to have the information to pass along to my daughter. Go to bed! It’s good for you.
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker. Narrated by Steve West.
4. K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches
I grew up loving baseball, still love baseball, and credit The Baseball Encyclopedia with instilling in me my interest in the comparison of numbers. Even in the year 2020 when the entire season is more of a sprint than a marathon, I’m still following how the season unfolds and root for the sport’s continued success.
This book scratches an itch and appeals to my love of baseball’s deep rich history, as the narrative is organized around the history of ten different pitches — ten different baseball rotations caused by slight variations in how pitchers have held their fingers across the seams of a baseball.
The chapters have lots of great interviews with players talking about the technical aspects of their craft and puts the history of the game into the pitcher’s perspective. I enjoyed hearing the explanations of what has brought us to today’s “arms race” and why the emphasis of velocity in today’s modern baseball game won’t be going away anytime soon. Who knows? Every pitcher might be an “opener/reliever” in the future. Either way, the audiobook’s a change up for you feel like a light but technical read, and is great entertainment for baseball fans.
K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches by Tyler Kepner. Narrated by Tyler Kepner.