This list of short audiobooks is sponsored by Penguin Random House Audio.
If you’re falling short on resolution ideas for 2019, I’ve created this handy monthly syllabus of ultra-short audiobooks paired with New Year’s resolutions. And even if you already have all your resolutions mapped out, these short audiobooks can help you reach that reading goal you have. And I’m pretty sure that one of the best feelings in the world is finishing a book in a day, am I right? I mean, at least in the top ten of best feelings lists?
Resolution: Live Healthy
The Gifts of Imperfection By Brené Brown, Read by the Author
Time: 4 hours, 42 minutes
Part of living healthy is practicing self-love. That’s difficult for many of us (including myself). Every morning I wake up and get excited about all the possible things I can do that day. And then my baby wakes up early, or the internet isn’t working, etc., etc. And by the end of the day I feel like I’m a bad person because I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be that day. But of course that’s not true. That’s what this book is about. If you’ve read this one before, Braving the Wilderness is also under 6 hours.
The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, Translated by Mobi Ho, Read By John Lee
Time: 3 hours, 18 minutes
Disclaimer: I am really terrible at mindfulness. I’m always thinking ahead to the tasks I want to complete. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more present in the moment, which is why this is on my TBR pile for 2019. While mindfulness has kinda become a buzzword for the last few years, The Miracle of Mindfulness was published in 1975. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. I’ve been wanting to read something by him since doing a brief, independent study of Buddhism a few year ago.
Hunger by Roxane Gay, Read by the Author
Time: 5 hours, 57 minutes
This book is a tough listen (or read). While I’d already read about her early experience with sexual abuse, reading it again still cut me open. Gay opens up in a way I’d never seen her do before. While yes, this is a memoir about being overweight, about surviving sexual violence, it’s also a memoir about how we inhabit our bodies, and how those bodies live in this world. I recommend this book not because I want you to be inspired to lose weight, but because it will make you think about the physicality of your body. And as always, Gay is an excellent reader.
Resolution: Get Involved
On The Other Side of Freedom: The Case For Hope by Deray Mckesson, Read by The Author
Time: 3 hours, 44 minutes
Part memoir and part call to action, McKesson’s writing is powerful and passionate. He interweaves his experience as a #blacklivesmatter protester at Ferguson with research about police brutality, his life as a gay black man, and his decision to join politics. His research and arguments are concrete, and his call to action had me thinking about ways I could daily make my voice heard to protest the numerous and constant injustices. He’s also an excellent reader.
Freedom Is A Constant Struggle By Angela Y. Davis, Read By The Author
Time: 5 hours, 47 minutes
I only knew a little about Angela Y. Davis before listening to this, and wow! What an amazing, erudite woman! This book collects some of Davis’s interviews and speeches. She discusses the connections between Palestine and Ferguson, collective movements vs. heroes, police brutality, prisons, capitalism. This really expanded my thinking on collective movements. Davis does a great job reading, though I wish there had been a different narrator to ask the interview questions during those sections. But it’s otherwise listenable.
Hope In The Dark By Rebecca Solnit, Read By Tanya Eby
Time: 5 hours, 36 minutes
Hope is activism, and while these essays were originally written in 2004, that proclamation is even more relevant now, when political and social life seem about as dark as they can get. Like some of Solnit’s other work, I find these essays most memorable taken one at a time vs looking at the book in its entirety. That’s not a criticism but rather an observation, though each essay is connected by the theme that action can take place daily, that activism can (and should) become a way of life.
Resolution: Get More Woke
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown, Read by the Author
Time: 3 hours, 54 minutes
From her childhood discovery of blackness to her work in social justice nonprofits, Brown’s memoir examines how organizations with diverse mission statements still exclude and utilize racist practices. While it focuses primarily on evangelical people and organizations, the gist is the same regardless of focus. Brown’s clear and concise storytelling voice makes the narrative all the more powerful, and she does an excellent job reading it.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, Read by Jesse L. Martin
Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Those of you who’ve read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (which is also under 6 hours in case you haven’t) will see some similarities between these two. Coates took his title and inspiration from Baldwin’s classic civil rights memoir and call-to-action The Fire Next Time. This also begins as a letter to Baldwin’s nephew. It’s unfortunately as relevant today as it was in the ’60s.
When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir By Patrisse Khan-Cullors And asha bandele, Read By Patrisse Khan-Cullors
Time: 6 hours, 29 minutes
Okay, so I’m cheating here, and this is over 6 hours. But it’s SOOO good. I just finished it. Khan-Cullors is one of the founders of the #blacklivesmatter movement. This memoir is so difficult to listen to, not because the narration is bad, but because the material is gut-wrenching. I openly sobbed a couple times. I say this not to dissuade you from reading it, but to warn you that you may need to take it slow. But I see the world clearer after listening to this audiobook. The narration is excellent and moving.
Resolution: Be A Feminist Powerhouse
Headscarves And Hymens: Why The Middle East Needs A Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy, Read by the Author
Time: 5 hours, 38 minutes
This is the first book by a Middle Eastern woman and about Middle Eastern feminism I’ve ever read. It’s definitely a weak point in my reading, and something I need to work on. If you’re like me, then you should definitely listen to this. I don’t know that Eltahawy always convinces me of her arguments, but her arguments do make me think deeper about topics I’d only ever given cursory thought to. Eltahawy has a strong reading voice.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, Read by the Author
Time: 4 hours, 48 minutes
You may have trouble listening to this cerebral, circular piece at first. It entwines Nelson’s memoir of gender and sexuality with academic research on those topics, and constantly circles in on a story, weaving anecdotes that seem unconnected until the pieces start coming together. On top of that, Nelson’s reading voice is strangely flat, but that makes it all the more engaging in the end. While it may take you a bit to get into it, it’s definitely worth the trouble, and at less than 5 hours, you don’t have anything to lose by giving it a listen.
Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, Read by an All Female Cast that Includes Alicia Keys, Ashley Judd, Esperanza Spalding, And More
Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
These micro-biographies of badass women throughout history will have you pumping your fist and shouting, “Girl power!”. Seriously though, women are awesome. Favilli and Cavallo do a nice job of mixing biographies of well known women with lesser known. And it’s young adult, so you could totally listen to this with your kids (but it’s still an awesome listen whether you have kids or not)! The celebrity readers add an extra dimension of fun to the listen. It’s a perfect book to end the year on. And Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls 2 is 3 hours, 38 minutes.
What audiobooks are you planning to listen to for your 2019 resolutions?