Books and Audiobooks: My Story and Favorites!

A few unrelated things before I dive into this post:

1.) Chantal, the talented illustrator behind Pony Chops Shop (I have a set of her gorgeous hand-painted Matryoshka dolls), is kindly hosting a Kelsea Echo giveaway! Head over to her blog for a chance to win $40 of my jewelry! :)

2.) I'm flying out of town tomorrow for a last minute visit to see one of my best friends, so I'll be MIA for the rest of this week. Will be back with lots more content next week!

Soulless Box Set: Gail Carriger | "LOVE" mini statue: The LouvrePanda Speaker: gift from Tal
Cheshire Cat Figurine: Magic Bean Buyer via Shana Logic | Teacup Jewelry Holder: Urban Outfitters
Vinyl Balloon Unicorn Figurine: Kidrobot | Too Too Perfume: Betsey Johnson

When we were growing up, my brother, Corbin (who just turned 25 on Sunday - happy birthday!) devoured books like they were ice cream cake. When it comes to reading, we have similar tastes, preferring fantasy or sci-fi and series over standalone novels.

My love affair with reading continued through high school, when I would pretend to sleep at my bedtime and then get up a little later so I could read all night. I loved reading so much that an essay I wrote for English class, on why reading was important, made it into a book my English teacher ended up publishing years later. My love of the written word seeped out of every sentence I wrote for that essay.

Unfortunately, my dedication to reading didn't really make it to college. There were too many things to do, places to see, and people to meet. Let's be real - I was also playing a lot of World of Warcraft, which sucked up my time. :) Without any conscious decision, reading slipped out of my life and into the nostalgic past.

Two years ago, riding the aftermath of a difficult break-up, I rediscovered books. At Corbin's recommendation, I started the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. It was more than enough to catapult me back into the wonderful world of books.

Since then, I've consciously made time for reading. This was made easier by Tal's supportive decision to buy me a Kindle Paperwhite. :) I'd read for an hour or two before bed or during a sick day from work. Sometimes just because it felt right. But, my appetite for books couldn't be satisfied completely by these little nooks of time.

It was Tal who first suggested audiobooks to me. He exclusively listens to books and I would always hear bits and pieces of his audiobooks as I walked around our house. For some reason, I was very resistant to the idea at first, but eventually, I decided to try it out.

I'm so glad I did! I used to listen to music or re-watch my favorite TV shows while making jewelry. It worked, but I would usually get bored of both after a while. Now, I just listen to new audiobooks (borrowed from the library via Overdrive) or listen again to some of my all-time favorites (purchased from Audible). It doesn't require any visual attention, unlike TV shows, so I can listen to new books. As such, I never get bored. I listen to books while editing photos or running on the treadmill. It's wonderful!

I know this is an incredibly wordy post, but I really wanted to share the story behind this. And, of course, share some of my own favorite books and audiobooks, as well as others I've been listening to lately. It's always better when you have portable panda speakers too! ;) I just plug in my iPhone (which has the Overdrive and Audible apps installed) and listen, anywhere in the house.

Narrator included below only on books I have listened to (rather than or in addition to reading). I don't like summarizing plots, so I'm including Goodreads links (which will provide a plot synopsis) in case you want to learn more about these books.

THE HERO AND THE CROWN | Author: Robin McKinley | Narrator: Roslyn Alexander
This is my all-time favorite book. I got a battered old copy in an elementary school book exchange. It has been my absolute favorite book since. I read it until the cover fell off, then used construction paper and massive amounts of tape to repair my precious book. I've read this more times than any other books and more times than I can recall. Because of this, I was actually a bit nervous about listening, because I already had the story down in my head. What if the narrator told it in a different way? But it was just as I imagined. This is one I will be listening to over and over again.

NEVERWHERE | Author and Narrator: Neil Gaiman
This is a new favorite. In addition to being a fantastic author, Neil Gaiman is an excellent narrator. I only discovered Neverwhere recently, but I've already read and listened to it.
My Goodreads review.

MISTBORN | Author: Brandon Sanderson
First in a trilogy. Sanderson is definitely my favorite author (and Corbin's as well). I can't even describe the Mistborn series effectively. Just read it!

THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE | Author: Brandon Sanderson
First of a planned ten book series. This is a chunky book. The first two books have been released so far. This series has so much potential... seriously cannot wait for the next book to come out!
My Goodreads review.

RECKONERS | Author: Brandon Sanderson
This is one of Sanderson's young adult series, but it didn't read too much differently to me than his non-YA series. I'd say it's the somewhat toned-down version of Mistborn. I pre-ordered the second book in the series, which comes out in January!

LIGHTBRINGER | Author: Brent Weeks
Another series in progress. The magic system is based on colors, which I, of course, love. :) Lots of interesting characters and good/evil ambiguity. I'm excited to read the rest of the series when it comes out!

PARASOL PROTECTORATE | Author: Gail Carriger
Another new favorite! Soulless is the first in a series of five novels. Super fun and perfect for a few hours of lighthearted giggles. Preferably over tea and pastries.

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE | Author: Laini Taylor | Narrator: Khristine Hvam
First of a trilogy - I thought this book was the best of the three, but I'd still recommend finishing up the series. Blue haired heroine with a small but feisty best friend? <3

GENTLEMAN BASTARD | Author: Scott Lynch
Series currently in progress. The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first book, which I liked better than the subsequent books. I'm still planning to read the rest of the series, though!

THE VORKOSIGAN SAGA | Author: Lois McMaster Bujold | Narrator: Grover Gardner
Since Corbin suggested it, I've been having a blast listening to this series (in chronological order)! It's also a hefty series and I've been able to find every book, thus far, on Overdrive. Currently listening to Memory.

THE LUNAR CHRONICLES | Author: Marissa Meyers | Narrator: Rebecca Soler
This suggestion was from Maivy (via her Instagram photo), and I've been having fun listening to Cinder's adventures!

FAIRYLAND | Author and Narrator: Catherine Valente
This was a fun, dreamy book to listen to. Valente's Fairyland isn't all rainbows and sunshine, which is how I prefer it. I thought this book would have been better off with a professional narrator and I plan to read (rather than listen to) the next book in the series.

I'd love to know: what's your favorite book?

Fellow book (esp fantasy/sci-fi) lovers: feel free to add me on Goodreads! We can trade suggestions. :) You may have noticed I update my "currently reading" list regularly, which feeds to the right sidebar of my blog. It's beefed up right now to include everything I borrowed in anticipation of my trip this week.

You can also view more of my reviews, favorites, and book ratings here:
Reviews (be warned: I'm very honest!)
Books I've Read (in the past two years + a few more)


  1. I am a HUGE fan of audiobooks too! I listen to about three a month from Audible. I've read a number of the books you've named, but the only one I've listed to is the Lunar Chronicles, which I thought were excellent. I highly, highly recommend you check out My Life as a White Trash Zombie. The audio is great and it sounds like it'll be way up your alley. I also listened to the Agent of Hel series, which I deeply enjoyed. Since you like Neil Gaiman, check out Ocean at the End of the Lane, too. He does the reading himself!

    Enjoy your vacation this week!


    1. Yes!! Audible is awesome. :) I'll look into the book you recommended - sounds awesome from the title alone!

    2. Oh and I actually bought the kindle version of Ocean at the end of the lane but haven't listened to it. I imagine it would be even spookier! I did also get Coraline on audible and that was pretty good!

  2. I actually listened to my first audiobook the other day! I was really opposed to it at first like you said but I can see it merits. I was really tired, was getting sick and my eyes were hurting but still had to read tons of book for uni, so I thought I'd put on a audiobook and just lay back and it actually worked!
    I do still prefer paper though.

    I WOULD add all your recs on Goodreads but lets face it I'm not going to get around to them anytime soon haha. But I have added you as a friend :D

    NEVERWHERE THOUGH. it was so awesome. it was so weird but so awesome. completely in love with Gaiman's works since then!

    sigh, too many books, too little time!

    1. Totally! I also prefer he written word in most cases, but the convenience factor is too tempting to pass up! Heh added you back! <3

  3. My fave books are the Harry Potter books... I'm not a big reader, those are the only books I've really fallen in love with. I need to listen to audio books more... while i draw listening to an audio book would probably be perfect!!

    Hope you are having a fun time with your friends!


    1. Ooh I bet the Harry potter series would be good in audiobook! I totally want to borrow it now. I actually find that I prefer reading it written the first time around and listening after that. Otherwise it easy to tune about and miss things!

  4. I wish I had the attention span to read or listen to books. Haha. My mind always wanders by the time I'm halfway down the page and I have to read it all over again.. either that or I fall asleep immediately! My husband loves to read though! He reads one book after another. It seems like he may have similar taste as you (fantasy, sci-fi) so I'm definitely going to tell him about those books! :)

    1. Yay! Glad to hear it! Hopefully your husband finds a new book/series to read. :)

      Haha I do find that with audiobooks, sometimes I have to listen to whole chunks again because I've tuned out for so long. Oops!

  5. I've resisted audiobooks too but after reading this, I'm very tempted to give them a go!


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