Out of the 48 audiobooks I've read so far this year, here are 10 of my favourites.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren  - Loved this so much. SO MUCH! Natural science research, mental health, friendship. Clever comparisons between plant and human behaviours. "People are like plants, they grow towards the light. I chose science because science gave me what I needed - a home as defined in the most literal sense: a safe place to be." Audiobook is narrated by author and her voice catches with emotion at times. So many layers of wonderful, I could gush about it for a long time.
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon  - Important. Relationships between parents and offspring who are different from each other, i.e. down's syndrome, deaf, gay, prodigies, mentally ill, criminals, or transgender. It's long and it's fascinating and it has won awards. I listened to it and then also read it in print. Narrated by the author.
A Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes  - Ebullient. Warm. Inspirational. Not ever having watched any of the television shows Rhimes created (i.e. Gray's Anatomy), I didn't know what to expect. I was astonished by the power of her story, and the impact is all the greater because the author narrates it herself.
Best Historical Fiction:
Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee  - Enthralling. From the 19th century wild west to the opera stage in Paris, it's an operatic epic starring a woman who uses her wits and talent to survive numerous reversals of fortune. Made me want to hear the music of Puccini, Gounod and Verdi. Narrated by Lisa Flanagan.
Best Speculative Fiction (tie):
The Fireman by Joe Hill  - Thriller. Near future. Dark humour. Plague of human spontaneous combustion. Narrated in the gorgeous voice of Captain Janeway: Kate Mulgrew.
The Regional Office Is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales  - It's girls with superpowers trained as assassins, or not that but a secret organization battling evil, or not that exactly but fireballs of love and revenge, or maybe it's not that but something else entirely. Narrated by four excellent performers, including Natasha Soudek.
Best Short Story Collection:
Mothers Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell  - Rural noir. Gutsy. Gritty. Insightful. Droll. Narrated by the versatile Christina Delaine. Following is an excerpt from 'Daughters of the Animal Kingdom' -
"My students never believe me at first about the love dart, the gypsobelum, that needle-sharp arrow made of calcium or cartilage. A snail or slug will shoot the dart from its body like a hormone-slick porcupine quill to subdue the object of its desire. Sometimes they don't believe me until the quiz, though I've drawn love darts on the board and explained how they can be long enough to pierce a semi-slug's foot, pinning her to the ground. A love dart can take an eye out. In all fifty states, it is against the law for a person to shoot anything resembling a love dart at another person, but there is no such law protecting the daughters of the animal kingdom."
Best Children's Book (tie):
Pax by Sara Pennypacker  - Loyalty, friendship, survival. Alternating storylines between a boy and his pet fox. Cost of war to both humans and animals. Dramatic. Heartbreaking. Narrated by the youthful-sounding Michael Curran-Dorsano.
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan  - Unique. Enchanting. A magical harmonica links several stories that are otherwise historical realism. Undesirables in Nazi Germany. Orphans in the American Great Depression. Migrant workers and Japanese-Americans in post-Pearl Harbor California. Four talented narrators plus musical recordings combine to make this an outstanding audiobook.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay  - A thought-provoking collection about definitions, human failings, and reconciling contradictions. Narrated by the talented Bahni Turpin.