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3 “Better Than the Book” Audiobook Recommendations

June is also Audiobook Appreciation Month, and since most of my reading is done via audiobooks, here are 3 “better than reading the book” audibooks that I highly recommend you listen to – whether it’s in June or any other time.

Daisy Jones and the Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Narrated by: A Full Cast including Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer, Pablo Schreiber

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. She’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things. Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

The book is written in “interview transcript style” which turned out to be perfectly translated to an audio book format with multiple narrators representing each of the persons interviewed about this famous (but fictitious) band. Daisy Jones and the Six felt like a real memoir of a real group. The narrator Jennifer Beals portrayal of Daisy Jones was simply fantastic! She had that raspy, rock-n-roll, bad-girl voice down pat! The rest of the cast were similarly great at portraying the members of the band, The Six, and various other people who interacted with them. This is truly a memorable story, made even better by listening to it read by a fabulous cast.

On the Come Up, Angie Thomas

Narrated by: Bahni Turpin

on the come up

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

Do yourself a favor listen to the audiobook! The narration by Bahni Turpin will bring out the story like the book can’t … the rap battles and how Bri expresses herself through her rap lyrics. The narrator captured the essence of the characters and the lyrical nature of this novel. On the Come Up is the story of a young girl coming into her own, in a family that has nothing except love for each other and the will to do battle with the harshness of life. Bri, her brother, mom, grandparents and really, every single character, is written so that you come to know them – what they’ll do – how they’ll react.

Island Beneath the Sea, Isabel Allende

Narrator: S. Epatha Merkerson

Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue, Zarité known as Tété, is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. Twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770 with powdered wigs in his baggage and dreams of financial success in his mind. Spanning four decades, Island Beneath the Sea is the moving story of the intertwined lives of Tété and Valmorain, and of one woman’s determination to find love amid loss, to offer humanity though her own has been battered, and to forge her own identity in the cruellest of circumstances.

It can be hard for me to read books about slavery because it’s heart-wrenching to see the story of people living through a REAL dystopian society. Island Beneath the Sea is incredibly well written, with vivid details of life in Haiti, the relationship between Valmorain and Tete, and a well detailed history of Haiti interwoven throughout, including the revolts and revolution which led to Haiti being the first country to abolish slavery. There was so much thrown into this book, but Allende is so adept at crafting the story so that in never felt like too much.

The audiobook was superbly narrated, and the French names and Haitian accent helped dropped me right into the story. Reading the physical book would have been a pleasure as well, but I would have not had as much of an immersive, emotional experience.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Have you read any of the above? What would you recommend as a “better than the book” audiobook?

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