Book Box: The Big Listen: Audiobooks for the Holidays - Hindustan Times
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Book Box: The Big Listen: Audiobooks for the Holidays

Dec 25, 2022 02:27 PM IST

Walk 10,000 steps and up your IQ and EQ with these five audiobooks, each one in a different style

Dear Reader,

You can walk 10,000 steps listening to Friends star Matthew Perry tell you his story or to Tim Waterstone, founder of the United Kingdom’s most successful bookstore chain, in The Face Pressed Against the Window. PREMIUM
You can walk 10,000 steps listening to Friends star Matthew Perry tell you his story or to Tim Waterstone, founder of the United Kingdom’s most successful bookstore chain, in The Face Pressed Against the Window.

Last week, I began teaching a course on persuasive communication. It’s got rhetoric, argument and negotiation – plus one little thing that’s more powerful than all these.

It’s famously called Nudge, a tiny tweak you introduce that ups your fitness, adds to your expertise, and lowers your stress.

Today’s nudge, a shortcut to fitness and fame, is quite simple - it's an audiobook subscription.

You can walk 10,000 steps listening to Friends star Matthew Perry tell you his story or to Tim Waterstone, founder of the United Kingdom’s most successful bookstore chain, in The Face Pressed Against the Window. You can up your IQ and EQ by listening to author Patrick Radden Keefe on twelve clever conmen or Chris Hill read aloud The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. As a species, we’ve evolved over centuries by listening to oral stories, this is one way our brain absorbs and processes information.

So here’s to more audiobooks - and here are five of my favourites from this year. Also, if you’re new to audiobooks, check out this beginner's guide to audiobooks.

Audiobook 1 of 5: Humour and Romance

The author of this book is the famous Julia Whelan, an audiobook narrator with many books to her credit.
The author of this book is the famous Julia Whelan, an audiobook narrator with many books to her credit.

Thank You For Listening

Thank you for Listening is set in Los Angeles and features two audiobook narrators. There’s romance here too, with rich reverberations of You’ve Got Mail. What I loved most was the banter, the dazzle of dialogue and the versatility of voices. The author of this book is the famous Julia Whelan, an audiobook narrator with many books to her credit. Which is probably why everything in the book feels so authentic, with lots of fascinating detail about the audiobook industry, right from ways of narrating to the Audies, which are the Oscars of audiobooks. Highly recommended.

Audiobook 2 of 5: Short Story

Listen to this short story for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's vivid storytelling and learn about parenthood and the patterns that determine our lives.
Listen to this short story for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's vivid storytelling and learn about parenthood and the patterns that determine our lives.

Zikora

The joy of audiobooks is hearing narrators from different countries speak in their authentic accents, with names and neighbourhoods sounding the way they ought to, instead of some made-up version that floats unsaid in your head. This happens in Zikora, where a Nigerian American lawyer waits for the father of her baby to appear. The story goes back and forth in time, with the action shifting between two continents and two generations. Listen to this short story for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's vivid storytelling and learn about parenthood and the patterns that determine our lives.

Audiobook 3 of 5: Literary Fiction

Balancing such storylines can be challenging, but this Cloud Atlas-like book does this skilfully, with vivid world-building and beautiful prose.
Balancing such storylines can be challenging, but this Cloud Atlas-like book does this skilfully, with vivid world-building and beautiful prose.

Sea of Tranquility

This novel moves from a farm in Midwest America to Vancouver and Toronto in the 18th century to a colony on the moon. Balancing such storylines can be challenging, but this Cloud Atlas-like book does this skilfully, with vivid world-building and beautiful prose. It appeared in many end-of-the-year best book lists, including Obama’s best books list, and deservedly so.

Audiobook 4 of 5: Humour

He gives us a lovable villain as head of the central bank, bringing in golems, golden suits, clown guilds and a dog who runs a bank. Also assassins.
He gives us a lovable villain as head of the central bank, bringing in golems, golden suits, clown guilds and a dog who runs a bank. Also assassins.

Making Money

If you’ve read Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, you will enjoy listening to these deliciously dark-humoured stories, voiced by Stephen Briggs. And if you haven’t read Pratchett, these audiobooks are a fabulous way to begin. In Making Money, Pratchett takes on the banking sector with blistering bite, making fun of gold, loans and central bank policies. He gives us a lovable villain as head of the central bank, bringing in golems, golden suits, clown guilds and a dog who runs a bank. Also assassins.

Audiobook 5 of 5: Science

There's so much that is fascinating here – and the awe and wonder in Yong’s voice
There's so much that is fascinating here – and the awe and wonder in Yong’s voice

An Immense World

Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, and electric and magnetic fields. But every animal can only tap into a small fraction of reality’s fullness. Each is enclosed within its unique sensory bubble, perceiving but a tiny sliver of an immense world, says science journalist Ed Yong, who combines deep research with delectable writing in An Immense World, which is on almost every best books of 2022. The author voices the book himself, and it’s a treat to hear him speak of the different senses, like vibration, sounds and electro-locations, with stories of animals that display them. There is so much that is fascinating here – and the awe and wonder in Yong’s voice are so infectious you end up wanting to hear more, to see more.

That’s all the audiobooks for now. Next week I travel to the southernmost corner of the country to bring you stories of the Andaman Islands – of land and sea, enslavement, repression and freedom.

Until then, Happy Reading!

Sonya Dutta Choudhury is a Mumbai-based journalist and the founder of Sonya’s Book Box, a bespoke book service. Each week, she brings you specially curated books to give you an immersive understanding of people and places. If you have any reading recommendations or suggestions, write to her at
sonyasbookbox@gmail.com

The views expressed are personal

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