STARRED REVIEW

September 27, 2021

6 amazing audiobooks under 6 hours

Want a quick listen, perfect for a weekend road trip to visit your folks a few states over? Check out these six audiobooks, each clocking in under six hours.

Share this Article:
Review by

If you think minimalism is a one-size-fits-all lifestyle and aesthetic, you clearly haven’t encountered Christine Platt, known on social media as the Afrominimalist. In her clearly written, approachable guide, The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living With Less (5.5 hours), Platt traces her journey—including plenty of initial resistance and more than a few missteps—toward deliberately choosing to live with fewer objects. The author’s calm, careful narration is both relatable and ressuring, and it’s punctuated by real-life, sometimes humorous anecdotes delivered by a cast of additional narrators. 

Platt’s guidance is enriched by sections titled “For the Culture,” in which she acknowledges how the history of racial oppression and systemic racism has, in many ways, made Black and other historically marginalized people of color more vulnerable to overconsumption and conspicuous consumption. She also notes that the Scandinavian aesthetic that permeates most mainstream minimalist guidebooks doesn’t come close to representing everybody. Platt’s friendly, flexible approach urges listeners to embrace a minimalism that celebrates cultural heritage and comes in all colors.

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our starred review of print edition of The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living With Less.

Afrominimalist Christine Platt’s calm, careful narration of her journey toward living with less is both relatable and reassuring.

​​You know those motivational posters that hang in your place of work? The ones with the simple messages about teamwork, friendship, success and excellence? Carry On (2.5 hours), the new audiobook from late, great civil rights icon Representative John Lewis, is like that—only better, because his aphorisms are punchy yet never cliched, and you can take his inspirational words with you and play them anytime you need a lift.

Actor Don Cheadle narrates each of Lewis’ 43 short essays with clarity and passion, knowing just where to put the right amount of emphasis. While Lewis was unable to record the audiobook himself, Cheadle more than succeeds in embodying the congressman’s message of hope.

Ruminating on topics that range from justice and conscience to hobbies and humor, Lewis has blessed us with a timeless collection of wisdom and knowledge from a lifetime of “good trouble” in his nonviolent quest for equality. “A good day,” Lewis tells us, “is waking up and being alive.”

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our review of the print edition of Carry On.

While John Lewis was unable to record his essays himself, Don Cheadle more than succeeds in embodying the congressman’s message of hope.

Helen Ellis, author of American Housewife and Southern Lady Code, once again unleashes her irreverent outlook on life in a warm and funny collection of essays. In Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light (3 hours), 40-something Ellis’ exuberant narration is cheeky and comedic, powered by a Southern drawl that adds charm to even her most unabashed discussions of sex and toilet habits, as well as her observations on meds, marriage and menopause.

Packed into these 12 essays on living, aging, food and fashion is a lifetime’s worth of lessons on resilience and gratitude. While Ellis' reflections are often outrageous and punchy, they also have a down-to-earth quality that is relatable and touching, especially when describing her longtime, tightknit friendships with women who have unreservedly shouldered each other’s weighty, deeply private experiences, including cancer treatment. 

Ellis’ embracing, uplifting and energetic performance delivers a perfect listening experience for readers who enjoyed How Y’all Doing? by Leslie Jordan and Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.

Helen Ellis’ energetic narration offers a perfect listening experience for readers who have enjoyed the audiobooks of Leslie Jordan and Mindy Kaling.
Review by

Emmy Award winner Leslie Jordan is making the most of his sudden internet superstardom with his new book, How Y’all Doing? Misadventures and Mischief From a Life Well Lived (4 hours). After decades as an underappreciated character actor on a long list of sitcoms, Jordan is coming to terms with his newfound celebrity status and the opportunities it has presented, including achieving his lifelong dream of recording a duet with Dolly Parton.

In the early days of the COVID-19 quarantine, Jordan began posting very funny videos to his Instagram account, gossiping into the camera, coining memorable catchphrases, telling stories about his Mama and gaining millions of new fans. His knack for storytelling transfers beautifully to this new audiobook. He discusses growing up as a gay child on a Southern horse farm and shares juicy Hollywood gossip, from his experience of working with Lady Gaga to how actor Debbie Reynolds convinced his Mama not to worry so much about what he gets up to in California. 

Jordan’s twangy Tennessee drawl adds so much personality to the audiobook; you can really hear the laughter and joy in his voice as he reads some of his funnier stories.

You can hear the laughter and joy in Leslie Jordan’s voice as he reads the funniest stories in his new audiobook.
Review by

From the veteran author of such uplifting books as Help, Thanks, Wow and Hallelujah Anyway comes Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage (4 hours), a collection of essays addressing hope in a time of unrest. Touching on topics that range from climate change and political divisiveness to the COVID-19 pandemic and her own recent marriage, Anne Lamott concerns herself less with offering solutions than with pointing to the earth’s dependable rhythms for signs of hope.

Lamott narrates the audiobook, and her gently warbling voice pairs well with the vibrant words she uses, such as sag, plop and love, to create a comforting aural atmosphere. She describes reaching out to friends during times of trouble, and her voice is like that of a friend, warm and supportive and slightly melancholic. Her essays are humorous, with metaphors of Life Saver candies and junk food, as well as profound, as when she reaches into biblical narratives and her own experiences to cull ageless wisdom and provide sage encouragement for future generations. This audiobook is the soundtrack for feeling better in the midst of a troubled landscape.

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Anne Lamott shares some ideas for how to get by when the world seems especially dark.

Anne Lamott’s narration of Dusk, Night, Dawn is the soundtrack for feeling better in the midst of a troubled landscape.
Review by

A magician never reveals their tricks, but fortunately for us, Derek DelGaudio doesn’t consider himself a magician. A sleight-of-hand master whose hit one-man Broadway show, In & of Itself, is now a movie (streaming on Hulu), DelGaudio offers a memoir like no other in AMORALMAN: A True Story and Other Lies (5.5 hours), because no one has lived a life quite like his.

DelGaudio traces his interest in deception back to childhood, when he concealed his true self to avoid being bullied at school. As a teenager he wowed legendary magicians, winning their trust and gleaning what he could from their knowledge. DelGaudio eventually mastered card moves that even his mentor couldn’t pull off, and he began using his extraordinary skills to control a weekly high-stakes poker game.

As both author and narrator, DelGaudio is a captivating storyteller who brings the weight of his experiences to every moment as he grapples with morality and makes questionable decisions amid the dubious world of con artists. 

A magician never reveals their tricks, but fortunately for us, Derek DelGaudio doesn’t consider himself a magician.

Sign Up

Get the latest ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.

Recent Features

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!