Bookish Academy Awards 2019

I did this tag for the first time last year and really enjoyed it, so I decided to do it again this year! It’s basically a list of all the awards at the Academy Awards, but for the books I read in 2019. I’ll be picking my winners from all the books I read in 2019, not just the ones that were published in 2019. So I have a total of 91 books to pick from and you can see my full list here if you’re interested. I’ve done my best to avoid selecting the same book for multiple categories, but in some cases I felt the same book really was the best pick for both awards. Here we go:

Best Male Protagonist (Best Actor)

Winner: Han Allister from The Demon King

Reason: Street Lord turned wizard and hero! Han is clever and quick on his feet, but also kind.

Runner ups: Trevor Noah from Born a Crime

Best Female Protagonist (Best Actress):

Winner: Jo March from Little Women

Reason: Jo is stubborn and has a wild temper, but she’s also brave and tenacious and ready to make her own way in the world!

Runner ups: Raisa ana’Mariana from The Demon King, Jane Sinner from Nice Try Jane Sinner, Kamzin from Even the Darkest Stars

Best Male Sidekick (Best Supporting Actor):

Winner: Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings

Reason: Sam is a hero masquerading as a sidekick. One of my all time favourite characters in any book!

Runner ups: There are no runner ups, there is only Sam

Best Female Sidekick (Best Supporting Actress):

Winner: Beth March from Little Women

Reason: It’s impossible not to love Beth March with her quiet and caring demeanor and big heart!

Runner ups: Melissa Yule from Lands of Lost Borders, Nisha from Ember and the Ice Dragons

Best Writer you discovered for the first time (Best Director):

Winner: Cinda Williams Chima

Reason: Cinda knows how to write a clever plot and a large cast of engaging characters.

Runner ups: Andrea Gibson (Lord of the Butterflies), Candice Carty Williams (Queenie), Angie Kim (Miracle Creek), Mary Beth Keane (Ask Again, Maybe)

Best Plot Twist (Best Cinematography):

Winner: Verity by Colleen Hoover

Reason: Verity is a wild and messed up ride. I didn’t see the plot twist coming and it completely blew my mind!

Runner ups: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware, Miracle Creek by Angie Kim, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Best Action in a Book (Best Visual Effects):

Winner: Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Reason: I re-read the series in 2019 and there is really nothing quite like the final action scenes in Return of the King.

Runner ups: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black, The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima, Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

Best Book Cover (Best Costume Design):

Winner: All the Wandering Light by Heather Fawcett

Reason: I have a thing for starscapes on book covers and the covers of this series are just perfection and match the fantasy world perfectly!

Runner ups: Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris, Ember and the Ice Dragons by Heather Fawcett, The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Best Audiobook (Best Musical Score):

Winner: Full Cast in Daisy Jones & The Six

Reason: You couldn’t ask for more from a full cast! This is a masterpiece in character development and the voice actors do a stellar job!

Runner ups: Trevor Noah in Born a Crime, Shvorne Marks in Queenie, Full Cast in The Golden Compass

Most Unique Plot/World (Best Original Screenplay):

Winner: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

Reason: A fascinating world where people have daemons, can walk between worlds, and there are armoured polar bears and witches!

Runner ups: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima, Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Best Book to Movie Adaptation (Best Adapted Screenplay):

Winner: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Reason: It’s been a few years since I actually read the book, but the movie captures all the same hilarity without the awkward plot points at the end, which I preferred!

Runner ups: Little Women

Best Graphic Novel (Best Animated Feature):

Winner: Book Love by Debbie Tung

Reason: I admit I didn’t read many graphic novels this year, but Book Love was a cute find!

Runner ups: The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

Best Novella or Short Book (Best Short Film):

Winner: Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson

Reason: Gibson is an incredible spoken word poet and this anthology is an important commentary on identity and social justice.

Runner ups: Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Best Historical Fiction (Best Documentary):

Winner: The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Reason: A moving story about a little known Korean island and an important part of history.

Runner ups: The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Best Standalone (Best Picture):

Winner: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Reason: A layered and nuanced story about culture, immigration, disabilities, motherhood, and more, presented as an intriguing courtroom drama.

Runner ups: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson

Top 10 Books of 2019

I recently got back from a 5-week trip to New Zealand… and I didn’t read a single book while I was there! I’m shocked too, but I did a lot of hiking and adventuring, as well as writing, so there wasn’t a lot of time for reading. So my posts might be a little scattered over the next few weeks.

More importantly though, it’s already February and I haven’t posted about my favourite books from 2019 yet! Since I read a lot of new releases, I usually do 2 posts. This one is about my top 10 favourite books of 2019 that were published in 2019. And I’ll do a follow-up post about my top 5 reads of 2019, that were published in other years. Not sure why I started doing it this way, but apparently that’s just how I do it now.

10. The Stories You Tell by Kristin Lepionka

This is the 3rd book in Lepionka’s mystery series about private investigator Roxane Weary. The first book is called The Last Place You Look and I can’t recommend this series enough! Roxane is a rough-around-the-edges, but well meaning investigator that somehow keeps landing in the middle of criminal police investigations. Despite her past record of solving cases and helping out the department, her support is unwelcome at the station and she’s forced to run her own investigations on the side. Lepionka’s writing gets better with every novel and I think her stories provide the perfect blend of mystery writing and personal drama, making each book more than the sum of its parts.

9. The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Honestly, I’m a little surprised at myself including this one on the list. Holly Black’s Folk of the Air trilogy has been taking the YA world by storm, but I didn’t love either of the first two books in the series. I stuck with it though and found myself surprisingly excited for the final book in the trilogy. Once I started reading this book it totally consumed me and I could not put it down until I finished! It’s a delightfully nasty book about Faeries that’s full of murder, deceit, and romantic intrigue. It’s definitely not literary fiction, but it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat!

8. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Another book that I’m a little surprised to see on this list. Queenie has gotten pretty mixed reviews, mostly I think in part because of its hard-to-love protagonist. Queenie has just split up with her boyfriend and she is really struggling to move on. She is distracted at work and has little respect for herself, seeking to escape through bad sexual relationships. She’s worn down by casual racism and micro aggressions and struggles with her mental health. Parts of the novel are funny, while other parts are frustrating. It’s hard to watch Queenie continually make bad decisions, but her struggle is so relatable and authentic that despite her flaws, you really want to see her succeed. It’s a book about learning to love and take care of yourself and seeking forgiveness.

7. The Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta

Will Marchetta ever write a book that I don’t love? The Place on Dalhousie is the third novel she’s published in the Saving Francesca universe, though you can read any of the three books as a standalone. Like all of Marchetta’s books, this is a story about friendship and the characters carry the story. Rosie and Martha are both grieving after the death of their father and husband respectively. Martha married Rosie’s father Seb after the death of her mother and the two have never gotten along. After Seb’s death they find themselves fighting over who inherits his house on Dalhousie Street. At the same time, Jimmy Hailler has been running away from his life and lamenting that he never really had a family. A chance run in between him and Rosie changes their lives in ways neither of them anticipates.

6. Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

I read Jean Kwok’s other book, Girl in Translation, a few years ago and really loved it. Everything about Searching for Sylvie Lee appealed to me – literary family drama with a mystery element – count me in! Searching for Sylvie Lee is about a Chinese-American immigrant family whose eldest daughter disappears when visiting family in the Netherlands. Sylvie was always the star child of the family and her younger sister Amy is distraught and flies to Amsterdam to look for her. But she starts to discover that Sylvie may not have been the perfect sister she thought she was and was harbouring secrets of her own. This is a character driven novel with a strong plot behind it.

5. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

I’m starting to sense a bit of a theme with this middle section of the list. Ask Again, Yes is another character-driven family drama that tells the multi-generational story of two families living in suburban New York; the Gleeson’s and the Stanhope’s. The families have had a somewhat tumultuous history together, but their children become good friends until one day a tragedy occurs that splits everyone apart, resulting in consequences that shake both families for decades to come. It’s a story about friendship, family, mental health, and forgiveness. It explores whether one event can have the power to shape our entire lives or whether we have the power to influence how we let it change us.

4. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

This book was so close to being my number one pick of the year, but it doesn’t have a strong ending, so I had to knock it down a few spots. Despite the ending though, it’s one of the most memorable books I read in 2019 and I think about it a lot, even though I read it over a year ago now. The Island of Sea Women is about a matriarchal island in South Korea and the female Haenyeo that make their livelihood diving for sealife. I thought the Haenyeo were fascinating on their own, but the story also centers around the friendship between two girls during the 1930’s and 1940’s when the Japanese colonized the island. The girls have a close friendship but come from very different backgrounds. Life becomes increasingly hard leading up to WWII, culminating in a dark event and choice that drives a wedge between the two friends that may never be healed. The story had so many layers and so much emotional depth, on top of being a really interesting historical account of the island. Like I said, it has a disappointing ending, but it’s a story that sticks with you long after reading.

3. Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson

I will remember 2019 as the year I discovered poetry – and Andrea Gibson’s 4th anthology was the shining highlight of the discovery. I’m still learning how to read poetry and I really liked Gibson’s work because I thought it had an incredible amount of depth, while still being super accessible to people that don’t necessarily read poetry that often. Gibson won the first World Slam Poetry competition in 2008 and is well known in the LGBTQIA+ community. They write on all kinds of social topics that are extremely relevant in America, including identity, gun control, mental health, substance abuse, and the justice system.

2. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

I can’t remember what inspired me to pick up Angie Kim’s debut novel, Miracle Creek, because on the outside it does sound like it has a bit of a random plot, but I ended up being totally enthralled with the audiobook! Miracle Creek is about the Yoo family, who treat patients using a hyperbaric pressure chamber called HBOT, which allows patients to breathe in pure oxygen. One day though someone leaves a lit cigarette outside the chamber, blowing it up and killing two people. What follows is a courtroom drama investigating who was responsible for the explosion and what happened leading up to that moment.

This is one of those books that is more than the sum of its parts. In addition to the courtroom drama, Kim introduces us to all of her characters and their struggles and flaws. Everyone is facing a different struggle, from the challenges of immigrating to America, to raising autistic children, to making a marriage work. Kim develops a very nuanced cast of characters while still carrying the question of who is ultimately to blame for the accident? Everyone is flawed and makes mistakes, but who is just flawed and who is a criminal? Listened to it as an audiobook and could not stop listening until I was finished!

1. Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The top two books on my list were actually both audiobooks! Taylor Jenkins Reid became really popular from her last book, the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (which I would also hugely recommend) and I couldn’t wait to read her latest book, Daisy Jones & the Six, about a rock band in the 1970’s. It’s formatted in a series of interviews from all of the band members that reads like a VH1 music documentary about how the band got together and then later breaks up at a concert in 1979. And Damn is it ever compelling. Part of what makes the audiobook so strong is that it’s narrated by a full cast, so you really get the personalities of all of the individuals coming through and it honestly reads like a real life documentary. So much so that it’s hard to believe that none of the band members or their music is actually real.

The story has a subtle brilliance because it takes place in current day – so all the events are actually 40 years ago and everything is recounted slightly differently by each of the band members depending on how they remember and experienced the events. So it’s hard to know what’s truth and what’s exaggerated and it’s really up to you as the reader to draw between the lines to what you think the truth is. Reid takes the time to develop all of her characters and each one is incredibly nuanced and flawed. Her characters completely walked off the page for me and felt like real, living, breathing people. Kudos to the author for a well written story and to all the voice actors for their flawless execution. The audiobook is really a work of art.

More 2019 Books I Can’t Wait to Read

There are so many amazing books coming out this year! I already published one blog about new releases I can’t wait to read, but there’s so many more books coming out, I had to make another list.

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok – Jun. 4, 2019
Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation was one of my favourite books that I read last year, so I’m stoked to see her publishing something new! Sylvie is the accomplished older sister of the Lee family and her younger sister Amy has always looked up to her. When Sylvie disappears on a trip to the Netherlands, Amy has the opportunity to help find her, discovering along the way that her perfect sister had her own dark secrets. The synopsis calls it a ” deeply moving story of family, secrets, identity, and longing.” I live for family dramas and everything about this intrigues me!

Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker – Aug. 6, 2019
I know K.A. Tucker has a million other books that I could have read after finishing (and LOVING) her latest book, The Simple Wild, but there’s something so much more exciting about a new release from an author you like. Tucker writes romance, which is not normally my cup of tea, but The Simple Wild had so much more depth than a traditional romance novel that I can’t wait to read more from this author. Say You Still Love Me is about ‘new adult’, Piper Calloway, who works as a VP at her Dad’s wealthy real estate company: cue the drama of working in a male-dominated industry with your ex-fiance! Tucker is great at writing relatable millennials and has expanded the New Adult genre, so I can’t wait to read this one.

When All is Said by Anne Griffin – Jan. 24, 2019
Good news! This book is already out! When All is Said takes place at a bar over the course of a single night as Maurice Hannigan toasts 5 influential people in his life. This book has been getting rave reviews and the idea of reflecting on those that had the most impact on your life sounds like a really compelling story. In the same way that I love a good family drama – I love character-driven stories about relationships. I’ve ordered a copy of this one from book depository and I’m just waiting for it to show up so I can dive in!

The Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta – Apr. 2, 2019
Melina Marchetta is one of my all time favourite authors and I will pretty much read anything she writes. She mostly writes Young Adult, so I assumed this was a new YA book, but friends, upon closer inspection I’ve discovered that this is another New Adult book!! Two NA books on one list! That rarely happens because the genre is so underdeveloped. The Place on Dalhousie is about the house Rosie Gennaro’s father built for his family but never completed. It’s not totally clear from the synopsis, but I believe Rosie has lost both of her parents and this book is about coming to terms with that grief and learning to build a new family with the special people left in her life. I may be off with this description, but the story sounds so moving and if it was written by Melina Marchetta, it definitely will be!

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon – Mar. 1, 2019
Another book that’s already been released! I started this book recently and I’m about 50 pages in (at the time of writing this post). Amy Harmon has a lot of books, but I’ve only read her one fantasy series, The Bird and the Sword. Most of her other books are romances that haven’t appealed to me that much, but this one is historical fiction about the Irish uprising and the struggle for independence. Our story centers on Anne Gallagher, who inadvertently travels back in time to Ireland 1921. It sounds a bit like ‘Irish Outlander’ to me, but Harmon’s writing is so gorgeous and lyrical that I’m anticipating a thoughtful and sensitive take on this piece of Ireland’s history (something I’m woefully uneducated on, so definitely a learning opportunity for me!).

The Stories You Tell by Kristen Lepionka – Jul. 9, 2019
This book stands in contrast to most of the others on this list, but somehow I forgot it on my other list, even though I’ve known it’s coming for awhile. The Stories You Tell is the 3rd book in Kristen Lepionka’s mystery series about private investigator Roxane Weary. The series is pretty much what you expect from this type of series, with each book looking at a different investigation, but I love Roxane as the main character! She has so much depth and I love how Lepionka develops Roxane’s character around her over-arching mystery plot and how many relevant social themes she incorporates into her storylines. A mystery series with meaning, depth, and a killer MC.

The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin – Apr. 16, 2019
This was a recent discovery for me, but 4 years after her beautiful debut novel, The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin is publishing a new book! Benjamin is a middle grade writer and her new book is about 7th grader Caitlyn Breen who is starting a new school in Vermont. As if it’s not hard enough starting a new school, Caitlyn’s classmates are reeling from the loss of their beloved class clown, Paulie Fink and decide to run a competition to replace him (he’s left the school, not died or anything!). The Thing about Jellyfish had the most gorgeous writing and in this second novel I’m expecting another beautiful story about growing up and finding yourself.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum – Mar. 5, 2019
A Woman is No Man was one of Book of the Month’s featured picks, so of course, I keep seeing it popping up everywhere now! This is Rum’s debut novel and focuses on 18-year old Arab-American teenager, Deya. Though she’s only 18, her grandparents are forcing her into an arranged marriage, not unlike the marriage that was forced onto her own mother, Isra. This has been getting rave reviews and the premise sounds fascinating to me! Another family drama I can’t wait to get my hands on (I’m also intrigued by what the title means).

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton – Apr. 9, 2019
My book club pick for this month is Next Year in Havana, which Chanel Cleeton published last year, I haven’t even started it yet, but I’m really excited to read it and then even more excited to hear it was getting a second novel. My understanding is that When We Left Cuba will be a companion novel, with each book focusing on one of the Perez sisters. I don’t want to get too into the plot having not read the first book yet, but they’re both set in Cuba in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s and focus on Cuba’s political climate at that time. I’m thinking I might read these two back to back before my book club meeting!

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams – Mar. 19, 2019
Queenie was just released and is being called a “modern day Bridget Jones”. It’s about a 25 year old Jamaican-British woman living in London (New Adult books representing on this list!) and her quest for love and to deal with her anxiety. All the reviews I’ve read said that this has the humour you would expect from a book being compared to Bridget Jones, but that it has a lot more depth. I love that more and more books like this are being published and I really hope this trend continues!

Bookish Academy Awards Tag

I love watching and reading people’s lists for this tag every year, so this year I decided to jump on the bandwagon and do the tag myself! It’s basically a list of all the awards at the Academy Awards, but for the books I read in 2018. I’ll be picking my winners from all the books I read in 2018, not just the ones that were published in 2018. So I have a total of 120 books to pick from and you can see my full list here if you’re interested. I’ve done my best to avoid selecting the same book for multiple categories, but in some cases I felt the same book really was the best pick for both awards. Here we go:

Best Male Protagonist (Best Actor)

Winner: Bitty from Check Please!: #Hockey

Reason: He’s a gay hockey player who loves to bake and make people feel good! What’s not to love?!

Runner ups: Prince Cas from Ruined, Radu from Bright We Burn, Cormoran Strike from Lethal White

Best Female Protagonist (Best Actress):

Winner: Morrigan Crow from Wundersmith

Reason: She is brave and perseveres though she is alienated at her school. She just wants to be accepted and be a good friend.

Runner ups: Kimberly from Girl in Translation, Felicity from The Ladies Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, Maddy from Code Name Verity

Best Male Sidekick (Best Supporting Actor):

Winner: Axel from The Astonishing Color of After

Reason: He is so sweet and such a good friend! He is always there for Leigh and understands when she needs some personal time.

Runner ups: Mitch from Vicious/Vengeful, all the boys in Fence, Benji from Us Against You

Best Female Sidekick (Best Supporting Actress):

Winner: Kitty from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Reason: She has such a great personality and she loves her sisters. She made me laugh so much and I loved her energy!

Runner ups: Amari from Children of Blood and Bone, Sheilagh Fielding from The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Rosa from Rose Under Fire

Best Writer you discovered for the first time (Best Director):

Winner: K.A. Tucker

Reason: I read her newest book, The Simple Wild and fell in love with her writing, characters, and setting!

Runner ups: Alice Oseman (Radio Silence), Emma Hooper (Our Homesick Songs), Courtney Summers (Sadie)

Best Plot Twist (Best Cinematography):

Winner: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Reason: There are a ton of crazy plot twists and I didn’t see any of them coming! Blew my book club’s mind!

Runner ups: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Best Action in a Book (Best Visual Effects):

Winner: Ruined by Amy Tintera

Reason: It is so fast-paced, it just throws you into the action right away and it never stops!

Runner ups: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Best Book Cover (Best Costume Design):

Winner: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Reason: LOOK AT IT! This is my first repeat, but I am just so in love with how beautiful this is and all the colours – I had to pick it!

Runner ups: Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper, The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker, Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Best Audiobook (Best Musical Score):

Winner: Joanne Froggatt in Wuthering Heights

Reason: Froggatt is an accomplished actress and she did a wonderful job with all the accents and drawing me into the story!

Runner ups: Kyla Garcia in I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Phoebe Robinson in Everything’s Trash, but it’s Okay, Rebekkah Ross in The Nowhere Girls

Most Unique Plot/World (Best Original Screenplay):

Winner: Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Reason: I am obsessed with everything about this series. I love the world-building, the plot, and all the characters.

Runner ups: Women Talking by Miriam Toews, The Poppy War by R.F. Huang, Sadie by Courtney Summers

Best Book to Movie Adaptation (Best Adapted Screenplay):

Winner: Love Simon

Reason: I actually liked this more than the book. The acting, storyline, and soundtrack were all amazing! Technically I didn’t read the book, Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda, this year, but I did see the movie!

Runner ups: To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han on Netflix

Best Graphic Novel (Best Animated Feature):

Winner: Fence by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad

Reason: So much wonderful character development in this series! Somehow these authors succeeded in making fencing super interesting!

Runner ups: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, Check Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Best Novella or Short Book (Best Short Film):

Winner: Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Reason: Unique storytelling that demonstrates women’s ability to find solace, humour, and healing in one another.

Runner ups: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, Songs of a Sourdough by Robert W. Service

Best Historical Fiction (Best Documentary):

Winner: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Reason: The writing, the setting, the characters, and the story are all so captivating and richly developed.

Runner ups: Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Best Standalone (Best Picture):

Winner: Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper

Reason: The writing is magical and transporting. I loved this mix of historical fiction and magical realism.

Runner ups: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker, Women Talking by Miriam Toews

My Favourite Audiobooks

I started listening to audiobooks about a year and a half ago, so I’m still pretty new to them, but I’ve read around 30 audiobooks and wanted to take some time to highlight some of my favourites. I think audiobooks face additional challenges in being well liked and rated because not only does the writing have to hold up to being read aloud (sometimes writing styles just do not sound as good aloud as they do written) and it has to have a good narrator. Narrator is so important and you’ll notice that the narrator played a key role in my enjoyment of some of my favourite audiobooks.

Before I dive into my list, I just want to say that I believe that reading an Audiobook is no different than reading a paperback book or an e-book. I consider both of them to be reading. There’s some reading purists out there who don’t think audiobooks count as reading, to which I say, that is very privileged of you. Audiobooks open up the world of reading to so many more people who may struggle with reading physical books for various reasons, and I can only see that as a good thing. Anyways, without further ado, here is my list (in no particular order):

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed (read by Rebekkah Ross)

The perfect example of a good story paired with a good narrator. The Nowhere Girls features 3 main characters, all with very different perspectives and life experiences. Grace, Erin, and Rosina are all high school students in the same school where their former classmate was basically driven out of town when she accused one of the school’s football team of raping her at a party. When the girls find out that other women have had similar experiences, they band together to seek justice. It’s very diverse and I highly recommend to young adults.

Not That Bad by Roxane Gay (read by various writers)

Not That Bad is an anthology of essays written by various writers about rape culture. The essays were collected and edited by Roxane Gay and represent an extremely diverse mix of stories and perspectives. The premise of this book is that we need to talk more about rape culture and that sometimes we suppress our stories out of a feeling that they’re not as bad as what happened to someone else or not bad enough to warrant making a fuss about. This collection re-iterates the idea that it is all that bad and that all stories deserve to be told and heard.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (read by Joanne Froggatt)

If you regularly read my blog, you’ll know that I became totally obsessed with Wuthering Heights and Joanne Froggatt this year. I didn’t expect to like this classic, but Joanne Froggatt does such a FANTASTIC job narrating this that I became totally enthralled with the audiobook. Froggatt’s narration is an Audible exclusive, so you will have to go to Audible if you want to listen to this version. But it is worth it because she does such an excellent job at bringing this classic to life. Audible is also a really good service, despite being a little expensive.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez (read by Kyla Garcia)

A lot a people have mixed feelings about this book. The main character is pretty unlikable, which hampers some people’s enjoyment, but I’ve come to the conclusion over the last year or two that I tend to like books with unlikable characters. Julia is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who is grieving the death of her older sister, Olga. Her grief makes her very confrontational and she pushes back against her friends, teachers, and parents. I understand why people don’t like it, but I thought it was such an accurate portrayal of a teenager suffering from grief and the expectations of her parents. I’m also obsessed with Kyla Garcia’s reading of this book. I thought she did such a wonderful job capturing Julia’s character and tone and it made this book so much more enjoyable.

Everything’s Trash, But it’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson (read by Phoebe Robinson)

I love books that are actually read by the author. This is Phoebe’s second book and I thought it she really stepped in up in this one. It’s a series of essays about America, Phoebe’s life, and what it means to be a black women in America. Phoebe is famous for her podcast with Jessica Williams, Two Dope Queens, so she’s a pro at being recorded and it shows. She is extremely funny and woke and really, who better to narrate your audiobook than you. This book is worth reading for her essay on White Feminism alone. A funny and thoughtful collection.

What Happened by Hillary Clinton (read by Hillary Clinton)

This audiobook is perhaps a little dated now (crazy considering it only came out a year and a half ago), but I still recommend it because it made me cry and stoked my righteous anger. I’m sure everyone knows this is Hillary’s perspective of what happened in the 2016 election, which at this point seems a little bit like, who cares anymore. But I think it is so important for us to try and understand what did happen in that controversial election and the gender and societal prejudices that worked against Hillary so that we can aim not to repeat those mistakes in the next election. 5 women have already announced they will be running for president in the primaries and we need to make sure that we support, critique, and hold them accountable in fair and equitable ways. Though Hillary didn’t win, she inched the door open that much further for the women coming behind her.

One Day We’ll All be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Saachi Koul (read by Saachi Koul)

A lesser known essay book written and read by Buzzfeed writer and Indian-Canadian immigrant, Saachi Koul. I didn’t really know anything about Saachi, but I ended up really liking her collection of essays on what it means to be the daughter of Indian immigrants and the struggle of reconciling that with also being a Canadian millennial who grew up with a different set of values and interests. I always appreciate a good book by a Canadian author and I thought this collection had a really good balance of funny, but thoughtful, essays.

The Feather Thief by Kirk W. Johnson (read by MacLeod Andrews)

This is the oddest book selection for me. It’s about an avid fly-tier (someone who makes “fly-ties” for fly fishing to attract fish) who broke into the British Museum and made off with 300 rare bird specimens so that he could use and sell their feathers for fly-tying. It’s an odd topic and one of the weirder heists I’ve heard about, but the book was absolutely fascinating! It’s not a long book and I listened to the entire thing in a single weekend because I was so entranced in the world of fly-tiers and naturalists. The author seeks to understand what happened to the stolen feathers and gives us lots of background on fly-tying and the scientific value of the stolen birds so that the reader can better understand both worlds. The narrator was terribly bad at accents, but otherwise did a great job.

 

Special Mentions:

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (read by Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber)

I’ve listened to a bunch of historical fiction audiobooks and most of them have not translated well into audiobooks. Before We Were Yours is the best one I’ve read and had a strong narrator and a really interesting, but dark, story.

 

 

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (read by Meera Syal)

I didn’t love the ending of this book because I felt it tried to tackle too much in one short book. But the narrator for the audiobook is fantastic and with the exception of the ending, the story is really funny and interesting.