The Best Audiobooks of 2020


Recommended by Robin Whitten

I wouldn’t say The Sandman is a comfort read! The Sandman is an audio adaption of Neil Gaiman’s comic book series. The graphic novels are not new—they’ve been ongoing for many years—but the series has been adapted by Dirk Maggs and performed with this incredible cast that’s led by James McAvoy. Neil is in it—who is of course a wonderful storyteller himself—Michael Sheen, Taron Egerton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis. It’s a great cast and the adaption that Dirk Maggs did is brilliant. If you’re not familiar with him, he was a collaborator with Douglas Adams on all The Hitchhiker’s Guides. So he has done many different adaptions and productions of audio drama and this is quite something. It’s dark, it’s very mysterious, but it’s very engrossing as a listening experience. It was too scary for me, but I loved the audio experience of it.

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Sophie Roell — Five Books

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Audible’s assault on leisure time


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“My writing time needs to surround itself with empty stretches,” the poet Maxine Kumin once wrote in an essay about how caring for her horses made her work possible, providing “the mindless suspension of doing simple, repetitive tasks—mucking out, refilling water buckets, raking sawdust—that allows those free-associative leaps out of which a poem may occasionally come.” The “empty stretches” are enforced by busyness but uncompressed by the pursuit of efficiency; farm work has “no beginning and no apparent end,” and within it the poet’s “contentment in isolation” can expand. I don’t have a barn full of horses, but I’m attempting to take more dog-walks in silence. Instead of doing chores, I’ve been listening to audiobooks while lying in bed—which takes far longer than silent reading, especially when my thoughts wander and I have to rewind. Right now, that torpor is what I like most. I think it’s good for me to waste some time.

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Nora Caplan-Bricker — The Baffler

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