The Best Audiobooks of 2017 (a subjective list)

The editors of AudioFile Magazine have released their selections for Best Audiobooks of 2017. AudioFile is a publication that reviews and recommends audiobooks, taking into account all the things that make an audiobook enjoyable: a great story, of course, but also the skillful pacing, structure, and narration that make them worth listening to.  (Full disclosure: I am a reviewer for AudioFile, mainly for romance books, and I have received free audiobooks from them to provide honest reviews). I have perused the dozens of audiobooks selected as “best”, and winnowed them down to three favorites in six categories, click on the titles to read more about each one. Consider this a jumping off point, audiophiles!


  • Beartown by Frederik Backman, read by Marin Ireland.
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, read by Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Rutina Wesley, Chris Chalk.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, read by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris and George Saunders, with a full cast that includes Carrie Brownstein, Don Cheadle, Kat Dennings, Lena Dunham, Bill Hader, Miranda July, Mary Karr, Keegan-Michael Key, Julianne Moore, Megan Mullally, Mike O’Brien, Susan Sarandon, Ben Stiller, Jeffrey Tambor, Jeff Tweedy, Bradley Whitford, Patrick Wilson, and Rainn Wilson.






Library Journal Reviewers List Their Top 10 Books of 2013

Librarians rely on a lot of resources when deciding which books to purchase for their libraries. At the top of the list is Library Journal’s Book Review, which provides prepublication reviews for hundreds of books each month. When you read books for a living, so many will blur together, but every year there are standouts. Here are LJ’s picks for the best books of 2013:

Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat (fiction). Claire Limyè Lanmè (“Claire of the Sea Light”) goes missing on her seventh birthday, soon after her destitute fisherman father makes the wrenching decision to give her away so that she can have a better life. As townsfolk search for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed among the community.

The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan (fiction). Anais Hendricks, 15, is in the back of a police car. She is headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can’t remember what’s happened, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and Anais’s school uniform is covered in blood.  Raised in foster care from birth, Anais has been let down by just about every adult she has ever met. Now a counter-culture outlaw, she knows that she can only rely on herself. And yet despite the parade of horrors visited upon her early life, she greets the world with the witty, fierce insight of a survivor.

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink (non-fiction). Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina — and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice.

The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend by Glenn Frankel (non-fiction). Explores the true-story-become-legend underpinning John Ford’s film, and the making of the film itself.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (fiction). Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing–and terrifying–playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.” Now Vic McQueen, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never forgot. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (fiction). In a rural village in December 2004 Chechnya, a failed doctor Akhmed harbors the traumatized 8-year-old daughter of a father abducted by Russian forces and treats a series of wounded rebels and refugees while exploring the shared past that binds him to the child.

How To Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore (non-fiction). Go back before the Regency and the romances it still inspires. Enter the Enlightenment, but don’t assume its adherents were all enlightened as we’d understand the term. Meet Thomas Day, an 18th-century aristocrat free to study and practice Enlightenment philosophies. Watch him go to an orphanage and adopt a girl for long-term training to be his wife. Twice.

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan (non-fiction). Pollan’s latest details his adventures exploring the four elements of food preparation: fire, water, air, and earth. In the course of his journey, he discovers that the cook occupies a special place in the world, standing squarely between nature and culture.

Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon (fiction). New York City, 2001. Fraud investigator Maxine Tarnow starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO and discovers there’s no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what’s left of the tech bubble.

The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis (fiction). When the humanitarian lawyer Tom Harrington travels to Haiti to investigate the murder of a beautiful, seductive photojournalist, he is confronted with a dangerous landscape of poverty, corruption, and voodoo.

For the Kings, writing is all in the family

The New York Times recently published an article about Stephen King and his rather literary family. King, of course, is the best-selling author of over 50 novels and dozens of short stories. His wife Tabitha is also an author with 8 published novels to her name.  Perhaps it was inevitable, with writers for parents, that 2 out of the 3 King children would also pursue a career in fiction.

Eldest son Joseph Hillstrom King, writing under the pen name Joe Hill, published an anthology of his short stories in 2005, and his first novel Heart-Shaped Box in 2007. His second novel Horns is being make into a feature film starring Daniel Radcliffe. Younger son Owen King (whose wife, Kelly Braffet, is also a writer) joined the family business this year with his debut novel Double Feature. No one can doubt that talent runs in the King family!

Next time you’re in the library, check out some of the books by the prolific Kings:

Stephen King:

Dr. Sleep (coming Sept. 24)

Under the Dome (2009)

Joyland (2013)

Tabitha King:

The Book of Reuben (1995)

Survivor (1998)

Candles Burning (2006)

Joe Hill:

Heart-Shaped Box (2007)

NOS4A2 (2013)

Horns (2010)

Owen King:

Double Feature (2013)