As a chronically ill person, I often find myself stuck on the couch for days, waiting out my latest ailment or flare-up of my condition. Video games have always been my constant companions, providing entertainment and escape as my body rests and tries to recover. Of course, being the audiobook-obsessed person I am, I love combining my two hobbies and frequently listen to books as I play whatever game I’m into at the moment.
Like the rest of the Nintendo-loving world, right now, I’m playing Animal Crossing, relishing in the new update and expansion pack. In update 2.0, you can travel to new islands, make new furniture, and visit the new coffee shop, where I finally got to catch up with my first-ever Animal Crossing friend, Rover.
The expansion Happy Home Designer: Island Paradise takes the cake for me. There’s a slew of new villagers to meet, who are each looking for you to design their new vacation homes. So far, I’ve designed a home with “rocks only please” decor and a home for a fruit-obsessed squirrel.
During particularly bad stints with my health like I’ve had this past month, I listen to audiobooks set in my favorite fantasy world or reach for a romance novel destined to give me that HEA (happily ever after) that I desperately need. First up, I listened to Tercial and Elinor by Garth Nix, the prequel to Sabriel, one of my favorite fantasy novels of all time. This is the novel I’ve been waiting to read for almost 20 years.
Garth Nix’s latest novel follows Sabriel’s parents as they meet and fall in love. We learn more about the mysterious Abhorsen who we met in Sabriel’s story, and discover her father had a full and complete life before Sabriel even entered the picture. Tercial inherits the office of Abhorsen, a position that is tasked with helping the kingdom defend itself from necromancers, which means the Abhorsen often find themselves fighting slews of different kinds of zombie-like creatures. Billie Fulford-Brown performs Terciel and Elinor, creating the perfect sinister feel to a book filled with the undead.
Being the super nerd I am, I actually found that another player in Animal Crossing designed entire outfits, walkways, and diamonds of protection used in the Old Kingdom that you can use to decorate your island. Naturally, I spent the next several days in a robe like Tercial and Sabriel, running from villager to villager and completing various quests. I am happy to report no undead walked the shores of my island or attacked Tom Nook during my patrol.
Next, I listened to You Had Me at Hola and A Lot Like Adiós by Alexis Daria. Each of these first two books in Daria’s Primas of Power series focus on Latinx characters meeting, or reconnecting, and falling in love.
You Had Me at Hola focuses on Jasmine, a soap opera star who’s finally been given her big break and cast as the lead in a new TV series. When she meets Ashton, her new co-star, he ends up accidentally pouring coffee all over her white, apparently very see-through-when-wet blouse. You can see where this is going from here.
A Lot Like Adiós follows Jasmine’s cousin Michelle, who’s reconnecting with her childhood best friend Gabe, who she had been very much in love with. But their friendship had ended terribly, making her doubt her ability to work things out with him. They end up working together, and, once again, they radiate chemistry. Seraphine Valentine performs both audiobooks, perfectly capturing the drama and romance that fills each of the stories.
While Animal Crossing contains zero romance (unless you count two llamas that are so in love, they make you take their wedding photos again every June), I still felt inspired to assess my friendships on my island. A large part of Animal Crossing gameplay involves choosing and inviting animals to live on your island with you. But after that, you need to get to know them, and you don’t always get along. So I made the hard decision and asked a bear named Stitches to please leave. He took it well, but he still sadly packed up his belongings, cleaned his house, and wished the island goodbye.
I adore the new Animal Crossing update, and couldn’t have been happier listening to these fun, escapist sort of stories while I played. Now I have a brand new garden and some new villagers. I’m ready for whatever this wild game and my ever-exciting audiobook life has in store for me next.