From sexy to scorching, from metaphysical to unabashedly depraved, from horror to high camp, these recent audiobooks across genres are hard to put down.
By Viola Davis. Read by the author.
There are many moments in this sobering memoir that are painful to hear, such as when an 11-year-old Davis tries to physically stop her father from hitting her mother, or when the family’s apartment in Rhode Island is flooded, leaving a very litter of their dog puppies. “She tried to swim and swim, whimpering to save them,” Davis says of Cocoa, in the clear speech of an actor who absolutely does not act. “Every time we tried to grab her, she growled, bit and jumped back into the flooded basement in search of her babies.”
The determination of maternal love runs through the life of a woman who has turned the shame and roughness of her upbringing into an Oscar, two Tonys and an Emmy. Born on a South Carolina plantation where her mother’s parents were tenant farmers, Davis grew up in abject poverty (often on food stamps, and without electricity, heating, or running water), bullied by her white classmates. Hearing Davis’ voice “MaMama,” Mae Alice Davis, with her South Carolina accent, warms the soul in ways the written word can’t: her habit of sprinkling “and things like that in tha” through her sentences. , the way she calls mimosas “memeesas” as she sat outside the adult “Vahla” home in Los Angeles, telling stories of a racist doctor who wanted to break Davis’ legs when she was 2. “I saw the way he looked at me,” Mae Alice says through her daughter’s lore. ‘I’m not stupid. He saw that I was poor and black. I got you out of that hospital. That doctor kept saying, “Mrs. Davis, you’re making a big mistake!’ But I told him he wouldn’t experiment on my baby.’ This audiobook feels like your most intelligent and inspiring friend is sharing her heart with you.
HarperAudio, 9 hours, 15 minutes
Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance
By John Waters. Read by the author.
The hero of the veteran filmmaker’s raunchy fiction debut is actually more of an anti-hero. Marsha “Liarmouth” Sprinkle, mother of trampoline star Poppy and daughter of plastic surgeon Adora, lives for a good scam, but they’re starting to catch up with her. The author and multiple Grammy-nominated narrator whips through this upside-down, utterly humiliated, truly hilarious tale at its iconic, approachable cadence.
Macmillan Audio, 6 hours, 54 minutes
His Name is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice
By Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa. Read by the authors and Dion Graham.
George Floyd always wanted to be a famous athlete, not a symbol of racial justice. In this biography, two Washington Post reporters recount the many facets of the man who became a movement: a father, son, brother, friend; a phenomenon of high school football and a drug addict and a descendant of enslaved laborers on the tobacco plantations of North Carolina – giving a fuller picture of a life known only after his death.
“The foundations of his story began centuries before his birth,” says Olorunnipa in the introduction. In the authors’ stories—usually read in the measured tone of actor and pro-audiobook narrator Dion Graham—the public perception of Floyd is so focused on his murder by a white police officer that we’ve missed the countless other conspiracies in this country. against him while he was still alive.
Penguin Audio, 13 hours, 32 minutes
By Alma Katsu. Read by Traci Kato-Kiriyama and Louis Ozawa.
Kato-Kiriyama’s foreboding episode reflects the historical setting of this supernatural horror novel set in a 1944 Japanese internment camp in Idaho. Mieko and her daughter, Aiko, seized from their Seattle home for their Japanese heritage, join forces with a American journalist to investigate a strange disease that takes the lives of their fellow inmates. The references to Japanese folklore (in the form of human apparitions and tiny, blood-curdling spiders and more) wrap this sharp social commentary in a sample of pure storytelling.
Penguin Audio, 10 hours, 13 minutes
The ceiling outside: the science and experience of the disturbed mind
By Noga Arikha. Read by Fenella Fudge.
This is social science, science, autobiography, and philosophical inquiry, all told through the lens of a single neuropsychiatry unit at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris. While Arikha attends weekly clinical meetings there—allowed by the supposedly impersonal nature of the doctors’ mind and consciousness discussions in the absence of their patients—her own mother, diagnosed with dementia, becomes one of the cases under discussion. . Fudge’s British inflection, fittingly professorial yet vulnerable, makes this moving account of the self and its unraveling both relevant and accessible to all of us.
Basic books, 8 hours, 17 minutes
The mountain and the sea
By Kwame Dawes. Read by Paula-Anne Jones.
In this seductive and heartfelt 2020 production – written especially for the audio format by the Ghanaian poet and told in the melodious melody of the Jamaican broadcaster – a widowed painter named Esther encounters a naked man on a mountain road who has absolutely no idea how to get there, or who he is. Esther can’t help it – she takes him in, calls him “Monty” and accepts his flirtation while helping him regain his own past. The melodic melody of Jamaican broadcaster Jones is hypnotic.
Audible Originals, 3 hours, 17 minutes
Lauren Christensen is an editor at the Book Review.