March 25, 2020 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Got 150 hours? Here are some great audiobooks to listen to [The Guardian] “There are only so many podcasts released each week, and streaming TV shows and films for 18 hours straight is no more practical than reading books all day, if one has to be moving around cooking, exercising, or preventing small children from maiming themselves with unexpected household objects. From Ian McKellan reading Homer to Bill Bryson on the body, these audiobooks can expand your horizons.”

• 11 Engaging Audiobooks to Keep You Company [The Cut]
“We all have a lot of time at home on our hands right now. And while getting a lot “done” during this uncertain period sounds like a great idea in theory, in reality, it’s a lot more difficult to enact — I can’t read a physical book for more than ten minutes without checking my phone for more news. I am certainly not writing King Lear. What I can do (besides play video games) is listen. Podcasts are one option, but I’m finding audiobooks especially comforting right now. It’s nice just to hear one person talk for a while; plus, it’s a relatively passive, escapist downtime activity you can do while cooking or cleaning. Here are some top audiobook picks from Cut staff and friends.”
• You Can Listen to Some Audible Audiobooks For Free Right Now [Lifehacker]
“Audible is offering some of its collection for free. Unlike some other free offerings, where you’re required to sign up for a trial, or at least provide your email address, these offerings are all available to stream with no login and no payment information exchanging hands. Books can be streamed on your desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet. The collection includes books for young readers such as Winnie-the-Pooh and the Timeless Tales of Beatrix Potter as well as books for teens and literary classics such as Jane Eyre, The Call of the Wild, and Roots.”
• 17 Best Audiobooks To Listen To When You Want To Zone Out In 2020 [Elle]
“While nothing will ever replace the satisfaction of thumbing through a new paperback, audiobooks are the perfect alternative for the times when you’re on the go and don’t want to lug a book around in your handbag. With both classics and newer titles being reinvented as audiobooks, you can now be well read without ever casting an eye over a page - there really is no longer any excuse for not getting into a good book. So, if you’ve had your fill of podcasts and are looking for something new to satisfy your audio needs then sit back, relax and prepare to settle in for hours of bliss with our pick of the best audiobooks of 2020.”
• 14 of the best audiobooks in 2020, fiction and non-fiction [Wired]
“If you're growing tired of podcasts and fancy something a bit weightier, audiobooks could be the perfect solution. Driving to work, or crammed into a train carriage too tightly to move your arms? Don't worry – our selection of our favourite audiobooks will keep you entertained. With A-list actors providing the narration, and a host of new productions of old favourites, there's never been a better time to start listening.”
• 35 Best Audiobooks Ever [Oprah Mag]
“There's nothing quite like the pleasure of being read to. Maybe you enjoy non-fiction, or perhaps you prefer poetry or a juicy beach read. Whatever the genre, even if you consider yourself a loyal physical book lover, sometimes it's nice to rest your eyes and listen—especially when you're on a long road trip or just want to retreat to a corner of your home and tune out. The best audiobooks can lift protagonists and plots to another dimension with narration. Reading aloud can be an act of artistry: the whisper of a fraught sentence, the yearning in a question, a deliberate moment of silence between lines of dialogue. It's almost like company.”
• The 19 Best Audiobooks of 2019 [Paste Mag]
“Looking back at the titles we’ve loved in 2019, it’s obvious that audiobooks are only increasing in popularity. Across the board, audiobooks are continuing to be more creatively cast and produced each year, offering an abundance of must-listens. We’ve rounded up 19 of this year’s best audiobooks (listed in order by run time), spanning a diverse range of genres and listening experiences. The titles below offer hours of entertainment to enjoy throughout the holiday season and into the new year.”
posted by Fizz (12 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Fans of the Criminal podcast might enjoy Phoebe Reads a Mystery! One chapter of The Mysterious Affair at Styles a day.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:08 AM on March 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

is no more practical than reading books all day

I take issue with this statement.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:23 AM on March 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

I wish I could buy these in some downloadable format, like .mp3 or .ogg, rather than having to subscribe to - and use - Audible. I'm happy that LibriVox and OpenCulture are still around.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 8:54 AM on March 25, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'll drop in a plug for my favorite audiobook, which I've listened to countless times: Will Patton reads Train Dreams and Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson. Both books for one credit!
posted by dobbs at 9:49 AM on March 25, 2020

This is great! Almost all my podcasts now are like "VIRUS VIRUS VIRUS VIRUS", and it's like... as great as the virus is, sometimes you need a little break from the virus, you know? Podcasts are usually where I go to get away from the boredom and pain of everyday life.

And so I switched to audiobooks, for the time being. This is exactly what I need right now.

Also, for anyone who's interested in escaping to an era where the US Government worked slightly better than it does today, all four volumes of Robert Caro's magnum opus LBJ biography is available on Audible. Expensive, but worth it.
posted by panama joe at 10:21 AM on March 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

None of these beat Patrick O’Brien’s The Aubrey/Maturin series narrated be Patrick Tull. That’s 18 books. Hopefully the pandemic won’t last longer that that.

ONLY get the ones narrated by Patrick Tull. I cannot emphasize that enough. Nobody else. You will not regret it.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 11:03 AM on March 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

I have trouble engaging with a lot of audiobooks but I've discovered that audiobooks read by the author (especially books of essays/creative nonfiction stuff) have a different quality to them that makes them a lot more engaging.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:38 PM on March 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would recommend any book by Bill Bryson.

At one point Bryson, who throughout assumes a rather portly audience, exhorts you to “get up and move around a little”. This is rather difficult if one is reading

This is why I listen to audiobooks when I'm on the treadmill.
posted by eye of newt at 12:50 PM on March 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

I wish I could buy these in some downloadable format...

You can use AaxAudioConverter to convert the Audible format to mp3. I have found it to be a joy to use.
posted by polecat at 1:38 PM on March 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

I'll add that I think AaxAudioConverter only works on books that you've purchased. I checked out those free offerings from Audible yesterday or so, and I didn't see a way to convert them.
posted by polecat at 1:40 PM on March 25, 2020

There are, apparently, a lot of ways to convert aax on a Mac. This page has at least 4. Good luck and stay safe out there!
posted by evilDoug at 6:17 PM on March 25, 2020

megami: Two of the best books read by the author are Neil Gaiman reading Norse Mythology and Stephen Fry reading Mythos.

I also thought Neil Gaiman reading The Graveyard Book was really great, & better than any of his other readings, even if I liked the Norse Mythology one.

My favourite readings of anything are Lenny Henry reading Gaiman's Anansi Boys, and Frank Muller reading Moby Dick. Seriously, if you've never read Moby Dick, give it a try!
posted by sneebler at 10:57 AM on March 27, 2020

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