Spring is officially in the air, and my reading life feels wonderfully on point. I constantly switch up genres to keep up with my ever-changing mood, and it’s the #1 reason I hardly ever get bored with my books. Today I am sharing two books that could not possibly be more different from one another, yet both were captivating in their unique way. A memoir about healing from trauma while climbing Mount Everest and a work of spectacular fiction that involves dead bodies and over-the-top rich people is what I am talking about today, so listen up.
In the Shadow of the Mountain: A Memoir of Courage by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado was phenomenal. I had the pleasure of listening to this book on audio read by the author. Vasquez-Lavado leads a group of sexual assault survivors on a trek to Mount Everest basecamp as part of their healing process. Her journey was far from over after reaching base camp, though. She then joined up with another climbing group and took a shot at summitting the highest mountain on Earth. Vasquez-Lavado shares her story alternating between her traumatic past and her epic climb. I was moved to tears by the intimate details of the sexual abuse she experienced as a child and the fallout from these horrific events. On the flip side, my heart was pounding out of my chest as she climbed for weeks and weeks in unfathomable conditions. Charged with brutal honesty, rich in unique culture, and filled with hope, Vasquez-Lavado’s memoir is a must-read/listen.
After immersing myself in Vasquez-Lavado’s profound journey, it was refreshing to switch it up with an over-the-top read about bored rich people who lie, scheme, and kill for entertainment. Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier is dripping in cash AND blood and I loved every second of it. Lyla and Graham are incredibly wealthy and enjoy playing games with people. I’m not talking monopoly or a spicy pickleball competition, mind you. Nooooo, I am talking about recruiting innocent self-made successful people to live in the guest house that they can destroy financially and maybe even kill if the spirit moves them. How fun is that??? Brazier’s story is a fast-paced, mannerless tale that had me wildly entertained. Her writing is striking and razor-sharp. Her cast of characters is a spectacular melody of stunning and loopy all in the same breath and I had no problem gobbling up this juicy delight. I listened to Good Rich People on audio, and I must shout out the fabulous narrators who brought this wicked fun story to life. Karissa Vacker and Sophie Amoss crushed the narration 100%!!!!
Well, my friend…I hope you enjoy experiencing these two incredible books one way or the other.
I need to say something and I really hope you and everyone else hear this correctly. AUDIOBOOKS COUNT AS READING! I can’t believe that there are actual people in the world that believe this to be untrue. I am setting the record straight today. Listening to your books vs. reading a physical book comes down to modality. One uses visual, while the other uses auditory. That is it. Still reading!
Now that I have cleared that up, I’ll let you in on a little secret. My personal reading life drastically changed once I added audiobooks into the mix. I pretty much doubled the number of books I was consuming and felt way more up to date with my TBR list. Let’s face it, the act of reading a physical book is pretty much incompatible with most activities (except for maybe working out on a treadmill or exercise bike). However, listening to a book pairs quite perfectly with so many everyday activities (driving, exercising, household chores). With that said, listening to books wasn’t exactly a slam dunk for me. It took many failed attempts to find the right fit. The key to finding a great book on audio boils down to the narrator. While a poor audio narration can destroy the experience of a five-star read, the right performance will elevate your listening adventure beyond the stars. In fact, you will feel so fantastically entertained that you will wear your earbuds 24/7. And that my friends, is a sign that you are on your way to becoming an audiobook junkie. Welcome to the club!
Today I am sharing with you a few audiobooks that worked for me. Between the stories and the talented narrators, these audiobooks brought joy to me during the most dreadful activities…laundry, cleaning, endless driving. You get my drift. While so many of these daily undertakings are unavoidable, we can at least get some reading done while doing them. But don’t just associate your listening with unpleasant activities. Long walks, gardening, and everyday life work well with good storytelling. Make reading more a part of your day. Start listening!
“One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them are a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured veteran returning from Afghanistan, a business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. Halfway across the country, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor. Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a part of himself has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery—one that will lead him to the answers to some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do you find the strength to put one foot in front of the other? How do you learn to feel safe again? How do you find meaning in your life?”
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ In the wake of an unimaginable tragedy, Napolitano’s story tells of one boy’s survival and how he went on to not only survive but truly really live. My emotions were everywhere in this book. I hesitated to listen to this story because I didn’t want to feel sad. While a few parts of this book completely gutted me, the majority of this story was uplifting and heartfelt. Casandra Campbell’s narration comforted me during this emotionally charged story. Edward will forever be in my heart! This book is 100% worth the 11 hours 36 minutes of listening hours in your day.
Synopsis from the Publisher (Penguin Random House Audio): “In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling. Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit–and her sister–before it’s too late.”
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Liz Moore’s story brings awareness to the opioid crisis that plagues our nation. She shines a light on how this calamity impacts not only society but the ones we love most. Allyson Ryan’s narration transports you to the streets of Philadelphia while bringing to life this mystery and family drama in the most satisfying way. It is definitely worth your 13 hours 19 minutes of listening time.
Synopsis from the Publisher (Penguin Random House Audio): “Cyril Avery is not a real Avery — or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he? Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.”
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I am not going to lie. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is one of my favorite books of all time. Boyne’s story is rich. It’s full. It absolutely requires 21 hours 10 minutes to tell. Do not let these long hours deter you from experiencing this coming of age saga. Stephen Hogan’s performance will keep your earbuds permanently in place with his luscious Irish accent. Cyril Avery is one to root for. He will stay in your soul forever. This my friends…..is worth every second of your listening time (76,200 seconds to be precise).
Well, Mr. H., I must get back to my listening! Cheers everyone!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. If you are looking for a way to listen to your books while supporting your local bookstore, check out Libro.FM. Feel free you use my referral link to get your first month free. I am NOT affiliated with Libro.FM. I personally support this listening option on my own. Any member can share their referral code.