05 December 2019

AudioFile Magazine's Best 2019 Audiobooks in Memoir

feature of AudioFile magazine's best 2019 audiobooks in memoirAs you know, I'm a huge audiobook fan and have been since the last century (doesn't that make me sound old?). You probably also know that I freelance for AudioFile magazine, writing reviews and blog posts. Thus I'm doubly thrilled to have the chance to feature one of the categories in AudioFile's best audiobooks of 2019.

I was tapped to highlight the Best 2019 Audiobooks in Memoir. The magazine's editors picked the following audiobooks because of the strength of the voices of the authors who generously shared their stories both to educate and inspire us. The audiobooks on this list were also picked because of exceptional performances of the narrators.

Memoir can be tricky to read because the narrator is tasked with conveying the author's emotions and personality while drawing a curtain around their own reactions. The other side of the coin is the author-narrator who, of course, brings authenticity and and intimacy to the performance but is not a professional voice artist.

The narrators of the six audiobooks on AudioFile's list of Best in Memoir for 2019 brilliantly met all the challenges of reading these personal true stories. The links lead to AudioFile's reviews. For all the Best Audiobooks 2019, visit the AudioFile website.

review of Moment of Lift written and read by Melinda GatesThe Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World written and read by Melinda Gates: Gates has long been known as a philanthropist along with her husband, Bill Gates. You often hear the name Gates associated with various arts programs and events. But as Gates's memoir reveals, her interests in helping others has a special focus on women around the world. She talks about the need to improve women's health care, to increase women's opportunities, and to level the playing field when it comes to salaries. She advocates for women in rural communities in underdeveloped countries and for women in the high-rises of big city corporations. Gates, an experienced public speaker, reads her own story with confidence and good expression.

review of Trailblazer by Dorothy Butler Gilliam read by January LaVoyTrailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist's Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America by Dorothy Butler Gilliam, read by January LaVoy. I was the magazine's reviewer for this excellent memoir that is so much more than Gilliam's transformation from preacher's daughter with a narrow future to first black woman reporter and, later, columnist for The Washington Post. Her life and career spans both the feminist and the civil rights movements and allowed her a front-row seat at some of American's most significant turning points. If you're a woman or a person of color (especially if you were born in the mid-20th century), her story will resonate on a personal level, depending on your age and situation. For anyone still facing socially sanctioned restrictions (in other words if you're not white, male, and Christian), you'll find so much of Gilliam's story to relate to. LaVoy's performance hits all the right tones--in emotions, pacing, and personality.

review of The Aye-Aye and I by Gerald Durrell, read by Rupert DegasThe Aye-Aye and I by Gerald Durrell, read by Rupert Degas. This memoir of Durrell's expedition to Madagascar to save an endangered primate, the aye-aye, from extinction will appeal to animal lovers and Durrell lovers alike. Durrell vividly coveys his obvious passion for animal conservation, describing exotic and rare sharks, snakes, and tortoises and also describes the problems of deforestation. Listeners will be charmed by Durrell's humor and may get a little twitchy at the descriptions of dangerous animals, horrible weather, and man-eating mosquitoes. Degas captures the essence of a multitude of characters, believably renders a variety of accents, and brings this memoir to life.

review ofMama's Boy written and read by Dustin Lance BlackMama's Boy: A Story from Our Americas written and read by Dustin Lance Black. This memoir by an Academy Award winner is as much a tribute to the author's mother as it is a testament to how opposites can find common ground despite their differences. Black, a screenwriter and LGBTQ activist was raised in Texas by a politically and socially conservative mother who had more than her fair share of personal struggles. As we enter the holiday season, with its potentially tense gatherings of loved ones from a variety of political and personal beliefs, Black's memoir teaches us that bridges can be built. Black's narration underscores the full range of emotions of this inspiring story.

review of Forever and Ever, Amen by Randy Travis, read by Rory FeekForever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life by Randy Travis with Ken Abraham, read by Rory Feek. For many of us, the name Randy Travis evokes the essence of country music and the Nashville scene. But many of us, like me, may not know why Travis has stopped recording. In his memoir, Travis himself talks about the stroke that took away his singing voice but also tells listeners about how winning a talent contest took him to Nashville, a marriage, and fame. He also frankly talks about the downhill side: splitting up with his wife and issues with alcohol. Still, in the end, he hasn't lost either his love of music or his love for his god. Feek, a singer himself, reads this inspirational memoir with charm and empathy.

review of From Scratch written and read by Tembi LockeFrom Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home written and read by Tembi Locke. In her memoir, Locke shares the joys of falling in love with an Italian chef, marrying, and then adopting a baby girl. Although she and Saro were head-over-heels happy and were warmly embraced by her Texan family, his Sicilian family did not hesitate to express their disapproval that he married not only an American, but a black American. After Saro lost his life to cancer, however, Locke was surprised and grateful to find solace at her in-laws' home, where she was nourished both emotionally and physically by their love as well as by the lifestyle and food of Sicily. Locke's performance is heartfelt and engaging.

To learn even more about the don’t-miss audiobooks of the year, be sure to follow AudioFile magazine on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and subscribe to their podcast.


Vicki 12/5/19, 3:30 PM  

I have the audio of Forever and Ever Amen and From Scratch on my phone and plan on listening to them soon.

I didn't even realize Forever was read by Rory Feek!

bermudaonion 12/5/19, 6:42 PM  

I love memoirs so I need to look for these.

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