It’s been ages since I shared an audiobook/book review roundup! Some of these I’ve read more recently, while others are from 2020. If I’m being transparent, I also listened to every Harry Potter audiobook last year as an escape and distraction from the stress of the pandemic, election and everything else! I’ve read all of books multiple times before, but it had been awhile – love those books! Be sure to check out this post, this post and this post for other book reviews over the last few years! What books are you reading or listening to right now?
QUEENIE – I listened to this audiobook in January and couldn’t put it down, so to speak! This book is about a 20-something Black woman in London who is on a “break” from her boyfriend. You can consider it sort of a coming of age story, as it explores her experiences with that particular relationship, friendships, romantic/sexual encounters, issues at work, racism, etc. Even though her story is different from my own, it was incredibly relatable and poignant! I highly recommend you listen to the audiobook – the narrator is SO good and really helps bring each character to life! Normally I don’t like when narrators use different accents for various characters, but I LOVED it in this book. It really set the scene for me! PS: this is a great book to add to your list if you’re looking to support Black authors and stories!
INTUITIVE EATING – I bought this when I began exploring the idea of intuitive eating back in January! I wasn’t sure what to expect out of an audiobook for a seemingly boring topic, but I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. The book had a ton of very useful information and presented it in easily digestible ways, for lack of a better phrase. It’s one I’ll probably read again when I need a refresher! Intuitive eating is not something I’ve ever done until now and I’m definitely not doing a perfect job of it.
THE IDEA OF YOU – I mentioned this book in my 2020 highlights post, but wanted to give you a full review since it was one of my favorite reads last year! The book centers on a late 30’s divorcee and a younger boy band member (you’ll be picturing Harry Styles based on the author’s description) who hit it off after she takes her daughter (a big fan) to one of his concerts. After the chance meeting, they start a whirlwind romance that spans continents and features some very passionate scenes. Naturally, it’s not all easy breezy as they try to keep their relationship a secret from both the media and her family. Needless to say, this ready is JUICY! The book is now being turned into a movie and I cannot wait to watch! PS: this is a great book to add to your list if you’re looking to support Black authors and stories!
GREENLIGHTS – I honestly had no interest in reading this book until I heard Matthew McConaughey discuss it on Dax Shephard’s Armchair Expert podcast! I’ve certainly enjoyed seeing Matthew in movies over the years, but I didn’t realize how amazing of a storyteller he is. You can actually feel his charisma through the speakers! His background and childhood are fascinating too – it was very interesting to hear about his family dynamic growing up, as well as his experiences abroad and getting started in Hollywood. Plus, as an Austinite, it was hilarious getting to hear his take on the whole playing-bongos-while-naked story. Fun fact: his house where that took place was just a few blocks away from where my family and I were living on Windsor Road!
UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN – I included this review in my Best of 2020 post, but also featuring it here since this is a dedicated audiobook roundup! I first discovered Emmanuel Acho in June after the outcry following George Floyd’s murder. He started an IGTV series called Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, where he either spoke on a topic himself or interviewed others about racial injustice, the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, and police brutality. Each one was thoughtful and thought-provoking, informative and educational, but more importantly, it explored different perspectives from people of varying backgrounds (from local police officers to celebrities), pointing out the privileges and biases that exist whether you are aware of them or not. These interviews helped me look inward to understand my own biases, but also gave me a greater understanding of the issues on a greater scale and the misinformation out there about the BLM movement, “defunding” the police, and more. Hot off the heels of his popular IGTV series, Emmanuel published his first (hopefully of many!) book – featuring the same title as the series. I prefer audiobooks these days, so I downloaded that version and really enjoyed it! While his book is just one man’s perspective, I found it just as engaging as his video series and highly recommend it. He continues to share new videos on IGTV in this series as well, so be sure to follow him and check those out!
THE MEANING OF MARIAH CAREY – After loving Jessica Simpson’s memoir, I naturally had to download Mariah Carey’s! Mariah was the first pop star/diva I was obsessed with growing up! I even dressed up like her for Halloween one year. I sang throughout my childhood, so she was my legit idol! While I definitely think it’s important to listen to this as opposed to read it, buyer beware. There are a few things that irked me: she sang interludes between sections/chapters – and it felt, dare I say, cheesy? There were also times she came off very arrogant (at least to me), and it just made the experience less enjoyable. I will say hearing about her family and childhood was *fascinating*, as was learning about the start of her career and her take on the media’s coverage of her later on in her career. I also knew nothing about her first marriage, so that was eye-opening as well. She’s an immense talent and incredibly hard working, and it’s a shame she had so many people in her life either holding her back, trying to control her or take advantage of her success.
THE GUEST LIST – This thriller was another one I couldn’t stop listening to! It was told from the perspective of different guests/participants at a wedding, which is partly why it was so thrilling – everybody had a unique perspective on the events that were occurring. While I won’t say the twist at the end was predictable, you definitely begin to figure it out as you go! Definitely a page turner!
FINDING FREEDOM: HARRY AND MEGHAN AND THE MAKING OF A MODERN ROYAL FAMILY – I did a deep dive on this book with my friend Kate on her podcast, Be There In Five, so be sure to listen to that for our full thoughts! This is the book royal reporters, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, wrote about Meghan and Harry after they stepped down from their positions as senior royals last year. I read it multiple times in preparation for the podcast recording, so I definitely picked up everything I needed to know! This book heavily leans in support of Meghan and Harry, but especially Meghan. Since I like her that didn’t bother me, but there were definitely times it felt a little exaggerated in her defense! It was interesting to hear another perspective (apparently *their* perspective) on what was happening behind closed doors, what actually occurred vs what was reported by the media, etc. If you’re at all interested in the royals, I highly recommend this book! Also, Harry and Meghan will be doing an interview with Oprah that will air on Sunday, March 7th on CBS – can’t wait to hear more, especially now that they have officially cut ties and will no longer return as working royals.
CRAIGSLIST CONFESSIONAL – This book was another delightful find that I thoroughly enjoyed! The author posted an ad on Craigslist, inviting complete strangers to tell her their stories… ones that they felt they couldn’t tell anyone else. So one by one, she met and spoke with the responders, and put together a book based on their stories and secrets! From bad marriages to job changes, and drug abuse to debt, the stories are varied and very personal. It’s a fresh and vulnerable look at the human experience… I highly recommend it!
THE VANISHING HALF – This was a book I was really hoping to love, but it just wasn’t a page-turner for me. So many people raved about it, so I went in with high expectations! It just felt a little slow to me, and I think that was in part to listening to the audiobook version – since the story follows several people and their individual stories, it was a little hard to follow on the audiobook. It’s the story of Black twin sisters who end up living completely different lives – one marries a white man and passes for white, living a seemingly normal, prosperous life. The other marries a Black man and struggles in many ways over the years, dealing with abuse, overt racism and other problems along the way. Even though a bit slow, it is an interesting story of family and circumstances, and I did enjoy how it came together at the end!
AN ANONYMOUS GIRL – This psychological thriller was GOOD! I can’t tell you too much without giving away the story… but I’ll give you some details. It’s about a struggling makeup artist in New York looking for some easy cash who stumbles upon a psychiatric study. Let’s just say she gets more than she bargained for! Highly recommend if you like a book with twists and turns! This one kept me captivated the entire time.
THE WIFE BETWEEN US – This book is another psychological thriller by the same author as An Anonymous Girl! While I enjoyed this book, it was SO confusing to me for awhile. The first half of the book is told from different views, and then the perspective changes completely – it threw me for a loop! You literally don’t know who is who for awhile, and truthfully don’t know know what in the hell is going on. It’s a great thriller, but I do think it is probably easier to follow by reading vs listening to the audiobook!
WOMEN FOOD AND GOOD – This was the one actual book I’ve read (vs audiobook) in quite some time! I only did that because that was the only option. It took me weeks to get through this, mostly because I read it each night before bed and would fall asleep so fast! Not that it was boring, but reading makes me sleepy. To be perfectly honest, I did not like this book. A workout instructor I follow on Instagram said it was a life changing book for her on her journey into intuitive eating, so since I was about to start a similar journey I ordered it to read myself! Unfortunately, this book was not what I was looking for. It didn’t really provide any practical information, just an introduction to the basic concept of listening to your body. The author mostly spoke about her own experience and past with food, along with snippets from her “retreats”, highlighting specific moments with the attendees where they struggled with eating. It felt more like an incredibly slow therapy session than anything else! I do not understand why this book got so many good reviews. The Intuitive Eating book I mentioned at the top of the page is WAY more informational and helpful if that’s what you’re looking for!