Every year FFL curates a reading challenge that is designed to encourage you to keep reading what you love but also step outside of your comfort zone and discover new books, authors, genres, and formats. You can find our 2020 reading challenge here

This year, one of our challenges was to read an audio-book narrated by the author. Yes, audio-books count as reading. This is not up for debate. I love finding audio-books narrated by the author because it feels more authentic, especially when you’re reading a memoir. 

These seven books are available on audio narrated by the author. The majority are non-fiction, but there’s some fiction thrown in there too. If you’re not sure the best way to listen, check out Audible, which is a subscription service through Amazon, or talk to your local public library about their audio-books options–many offer them on CD, digitally through Overdrive or Hoopla, or in some other format. 

Calypso by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is a master humorist, and his essays really come to life with his narration. The first time I read Calypso I picked up a hardback copy, but even then I could HEAR it in Sedaris’ book in my mind. You can read most of his books on audio with his narration, but this more recent one is particularly good. If you like humor, weird families, and laughs, you want to read this one. 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I’ll admit I struggled a bit to get into Becoming when I picked up the hardcover, but switching to audio (on 1.25x speed to make it more conversational) helped me devour this book. Obama’s own narration makes this book worth the time just as much as her honesty in the pages. I couldn’t imagine anyone else narrating the memoir of a first lady whose voice we all know so well, and regardless of politics, I think this book is a must-read for political people. There’s a reason it was the bestselling book of 2018!

Failing Up by Leslie Odom Jr

Hamilton lovers and self-help gurus alike will love this short and sweet book by Leslie Odom Jr (aka Aaron Burr) which touches on his own career but also provides some unique insights into making your own life what you want it to be. I loved hearing Odom’s voice for a few hours, and this book was a nice take on a memoir that didn’t take itself too seriously. 

Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush

Prepare for a sob-fest. This memoir by the Bush twins is a must-read,especially for conservatives, but I listened to it around the time that President George HW Bush died, and I was a mess. This book is earnest, thoughtful, joyful, and well-done all around. It’s a memoir of themselves, their family, being first daughters, and being former first daughters, and I couldn’t get enough of it. 

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

True crime meets a love for books in this hit book that looks at the Los Angeles Public Library fire of 1986, a huge crime that was overshadowed by Chernoybl. Told like modern folklore, this book is an excellent dive into what happened that day as well as the history of public libraries in California and beyond. If you love books, you’ve got to read this book, and Orlean’s narration make it even better. 

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Pulitzer-winning Viet Thanh Nguyen brings us this excellent collection of short stories, and he narrates them himself. These stories are set in Vietnam and some in America. Regardless of location they tell unique, thought-provoking stories of the world, of refugees, of immigrants, and of people surviving in a world that has seen war, has seen loss, but continues on. I hadn’t read the author’s first novel before diving into this audio-book, but it definitely inspired me to pick it up!

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is a beloved author of many novels, but he takes his turn at playing with Norse mythology in this short collection that he narrates himself on audio! Loki, Thor, Freya, and Freyr and many more get into mischief, make some magic, bring about the world’s beginning and end, and tell the stories that dominated a culture in this retelling of sorts that is perfect for mythology lovers and fans of Gaiman. 

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Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member