AudioFile’s Finest Audiobooks of February ‹ Literary Hub

Every month, in your literary listening pleasure, our associates at AudioFile Journal convey us the cream of the audiobook crop.

This month’s trove of aural treasures consists of Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob (learn by Gilli Messer & Allen Lewis Rickman), Langston Hughes’ The Weary Blues (learn by Dion Graham), Ben Raines’ The Final Slave Ship (learn by Kevin R. Free), and Imani Perry’s South to America (learn by the writer).



The Books of Jacob

The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk, Jennifer Croft [Trans.] | Learn by Gilli Messer, Allen Lewis Rickman

[Penguin Audio | 35.5 hrs.]
AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrated with readability and poise by Gilli Messer and Allen Rickman, this audiobook takes greater than 35 hours however is price it. Messer masterfully portrays the characters, delivers Hebrew authentically, and makes use of accents—Yiddish, Polish, and German—elegantly. Written by Polish Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk, this sprawling historic novel set within the eighteenth century tells the extraordinary story of Jacob Frank, a messianic determine who led a riot known as the anti-Talmudists and was variously thought of a holy man, sensualist, and charlatan. Lengthy however excellent and compelling.

The Weary Blues

The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes | Learn by Dion Graham

AudioFile Earphones Award
[Brilliance Audio | 48 mins.]

Dion Graham’s deep, melodious voice and pure sense of story give this basic guide of Hughes’s early poems a revelatory energy. His sense of timing, clear timbre, and syncopated cadence elevate this remarkably numerous assortment. These stirring poems present the younger Hughes taking over the mantle of his individuals’s plight (ongoing racism), celebrating their enduring items (music and the humanities), espousing their hopes for a greater nation (“I too rejoice America.”). Written in an usually intimate tone, learn with measured energy and empathy, the audiobook ends too quickly.

The High House

The Excessive Home by Jessie Greengrass | Learn by Camilla Rockley, Sam Newton, Mariam Abu-Hejleh

AudioFile Earphones Award
[Simon & Schuster Audio | 6.5 hrs.]

Narrators Camilla Rockley, Sam Newton, and Mariam Abu-Hejleh work collectively to create a lush listening expertise about 4 individuals struggling to outlive throughout the seeming finish of the world. Half-siblings Caro and Pauly race out of London, straight to Excessive Home, one of many few remaining secure havens as worldwide tides rise precipitously, they usually and the home’s caretakers huddle collectively within the midst of a local weather catastrophe. The narrators create a wealthy vocal palette, and their mixed vitality paired with an unpredictable story makes it laborious to cease listening.

Black Cloud Rising

Black Cloud Rising by David Wright Faladé | Learn by James Shippy

AudioFile Earphones Award
[Recorded Books | 9.25 hrs.]

James Shippy impeccably narrates this little recognized occasion in Civil Battle historical past. One-armed abolitionist Normal Edward Wild led the African Brigade to rout Accomplice irregulars and bushwhackers to free Virginians and North Carolinians who had been nonetheless enslaved. Listeners meet Wild’s contingent of previously enslaved individuals, together with the extremely educated Sergeant Richard Etheridge, the Black son of a white slaveholder. The motion surges when Etheridge leaves the plantation to hitch Wild. Shippy flawlessly conveys numerous accents, personalities, and conversations very important to the account. Audio enriches this chic have a look at African-People in American historical past.

The Family Chao

The Household Chao by Lan Samantha Chang | Learn by Brian Nishii

[Recorded Books | 11 hrs.]

Narrator Brian Nishii showcases his versatility with a energetic and entertaining efficiency of this modern retelling of THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. For 35 years, the Chao household has efficiently run an Americanized Chinese language restaurant in Haven, Wisconsin. Nonetheless, they’re nonetheless seen as outsiders and subjected to racism. Nishii offers the abrasive household patriarch, Leo Chao, a gruff timbre and a sneering tone. After Leo is discovered useless, his three sons are placed on trial for homicide. Nishii gives distinct voices and personalities for the sons and expertly captures the story’s sardonic humor. Listeners will discover this slow-burning novel enhanced by Nishii’s expert narration.



The Last Slave Ship

The Final Slave Ship: The True Story of How Clotilda Was Discovered, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning by Ben Raines | Learn by Kevin R. Free

AudioFile Earphones Award
[Simon & Schuster Audio | 8.5 hrs.]

This audiobook recounts the voyage of the Clotilda, the final ship to convey enslaved individuals from Africa to the U.S., and Kevin Free does a first-rate job of narrating this work. The lives of a number of of the Africans on board earlier than and after the ocean journey are the first focus, and Free presents the story in an easy-to-follow tone, made even simpler by the writer’s journalistic model of writing. Free’s facility with overseas names and areas additionally makes listening simpler. In all, it’s a compelling story informed nicely.

The Fifties

The Fifties: An Underground Historical past by James R. Gaines | Learn by James Fouhey

AudioFile Earphones Award
[Simon & Schuster Audio | 8.25 hrs.]

Blessed with a high quality and resonant voice, James Fouhey eloquently performs this nearer have a look at the Fifties. His clear tone and considerate tempo enrich the portraits of unsung activists and pioneering thinkers. Cultural historian Gaines upends the tasteless decade of the fifties by revealing the “underground historical past” that spawned the homosexual and Civil Rights actions and the roots of feminism and ecology by wealthy profiles of key figures, together with Harry Hay, Robert F. Williams, and Fanny Lou Hamer.


Emotional: How Emotions Form Our Considering by Leonard Mlodinow | Learn by Dan John Miller

AudioFile Earphones Award
[Random House Audio | 8 hrs.]

Narrator Dan John Miller’s great voice and lyrical phrasing make this audiobook sing with heat and readability. He’s additionally believably engaged with these fascinating views from a theoretical physicist who has a present for storytelling and explaining neuroscience. Mlodinow says that we’re within the midst of a revolution in the way in which we perceive the position of emotion within the human mind. He reveals how every kind of affective indicators could be helpful instruments of rational thought and the way we will harness their energy in on a regular basis life. Miller’s wonderful supply extracts each little bit of appeal and sensible worth from this writing.

Let's Get Physical

Let’s Get Bodily: How Girls Found Train and Reshaped the World by Danielle Friedman | Learn by Danielle Friedman

AudioFile Earphones Award
[Penguin Audio | 9 hrs.]

It was frowned upon for girls to train, sweat, or construct muscle—it was thought unbecoming and even harmful. Danielle Friedman introduces us to a parade of fascinating trailblazers who championed girls’s operating and bodybuilding, created Jazzercise and Barre, and invented the sports activities bra and leotards. Her writing is exuberant and humorous, and her narration is joyful and interesting, too. With a beautiful voice and glowing wit, Friedman is vastly entertaining but additionally empathetic and relatable. Pay attention and find out about these girls who helped us discover our freedom to maneuver.

South to America

South to America: A Journey Under the Mason-Dixon to Perceive the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry | Learn by Imani Perry

[Harper Audio | 16.5 hrs.]

On this intricate, insightful, and deeply shifting work of nonfiction, writer/narrator Imani Perry explores the South and the essential position it has performed in American historical past and mythology. Her musical narration is as fantastically assured as her prose, stuffed with the rhythm and cadences of her native Alabama. Although a lot of the audiobook is a reckoning with racism and white supremacy, additionally it is a stunning, sophisticated love letter—love you possibly can hear in each sentence Perry speaks. Overflowing with pressing tales and narrated with a lot ardour and style, it is a must-listen.


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